Becoming a Plumber: A Step-by-Step Guide

Perhaps it is the great starting salary, the stability, or the choice of location that makes plumbing a great career choice. Even in an uncertain economy, plumbers generally can always find work. If this is the career path you want to pursue, then now is the perfect time to learn about becoming a plumber.

Requirements of becoming a plumber

Each state has some requirements that are specific to that state. You may see differences in how many hours of apprenticeship they want or what kind of courses you take so you will want to become familiar with these before you start. These steps will serve as a guide to the most common requirements you need to meet before starting out.

Vocational Courses

College is not a good fit for everyone and that is okay. To be a plumber you do not need a Ph.D. or any other degree, but vocational training is highly recommended. Some of these courses can be taken in high school while others require you to be a graduate. Some colleges let high school students take a few credit hours while they are still in school. Ask your guidance counselor if any of these programs are available. While you are at it, make it a point to take courses that will help you learn the skills you will need. Any applied math courses, metal working, and even interviewing and resume-building classes. Learn as much as you can from school while the classes are still free.


Every plumbing contractor starts off as an apprentice. A few decades ago there was less competition and it was easier to find an apprenticeship. Now, competition has led to more selectivity from employers. A GED is fine for most jobs, but most plumbing apprentice jobs now require a high school diploma. If you are going to be a successful plumber you need to have math skills. Not just basic math but metric systems and geometry as well. When you apply for an apprenticeship do not be surprised if they ask for a copy of your SAT/ACT scores to check your math competency. Good scores put you at the forefront of the selection process.

The great thing about apprenticeships is that you are working under the guidance of someone who knows what they are doing. While vocational programs give you a good basis and general idea of what to do, working with a master plumber exposes you to the day ins-and-outs you can’t learn from a textbook. The average apprenticeship is available only to high school graduates and typically lasts for 4-5 years, not including the minimum number of hours you need in order to be certified or the 144 hours of classroom training. You may also be required to have a valid driver’s license, a clean criminal history, a clean driving record, and pass a drug test.

The Journeyman Plumber’s Exam

If you are going to be a plumber in your own right, you will need to pass the Plumber’s exam. You become eligible to take this test after you have completed all of the requirements of your apprenticeship period. The master plumber you trained under will sign an affidavit with the hours you have completed and his/her certification number. Assuming you have completed your classroom hours, you will sign up to take the exam. You will be given the date, time, and location of your testing. Use this time to study.

The test is not an easy “A.” You will need to know your stuff. After you pass the test, you are a certified plumber. Some people will stop at this level. If you want to be the best of the best, however, consider completing the requirements needed to become a master plumber. Not only will you make the big bucks, but you will be able to pass your knowledge on to the next generation of plumbers.