13 Tips for How to Become a Licensed Plumber

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Sep 28, 2018

Sep 28, 2018 • by Rebecca Smith

Are you thinking about becoming a plumber?

We've got some good news for you. There are almost 500,000 plumbers in the U.S. today. And due to the expected demand for plumbers, that number is likely going to rise by more than 75,000 over the next decade.

That means you shouldn't have any trouble finding work as a plumber once you're licensed.

But before you begin the process of launching a new career, you should learn how to become a licensed plumber. By doing this, you'll ensure that you're ready to take the next step in your life.

Here are 13 tips that will allow you to become a licensed plumber in just a few years.

1. Earn Your High School Diploma or GED

One of the great things about becoming a licensed plumber is that you don't have to go to college in order to do it.

But you do need some education to work as a plumber. In general, you'll need to have either a high school diploma or a GED. You'll also need to use a lot of the things that you should have learned in your high school math and science classes.

A good plumber will need to use some of the lessons taught in:

  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • And more

If you didn't enjoy these classes or if you never want to have to think about math or science again, plumbing probably isn't for you. Keep that in mind before you learn any more about how to become a licensed plumber.

2. Keep Your Driving and Criminal Records Clean

As a licensed plumber, you're going to spend a lot of time driving to different jobs throughout the course of a day. You're also going to be in and out of people's homes and businesses on a regular basis.

This means you need to be trustworthy and responsible. It also means you need to have a clean driving record and a clean criminal record as you prepare to become a plumber.

You're likely going to have a tough time finding a job if you have any of these things on your record:

  • DWI or DUI charges
  • Excessive number of driving violations
  • Misdemeanor charges for certain types of offenses
  • Any kind of felony charges

Plumbers also usually need to be able to pass a drug test in order to obtain employment. If you're a regular drug user now and don't think you would be able to pass a drug test for a potential employer, you should seek help before you get too far down the line.

3. Speak With Plumbers in Your Area About Their Jobs

From the outside looking in, working as a plumber might appear to be great to you. Plumbers typically make good money. They also get to travel around on a daily basis and do all kinds of different jobs.

But if you're really interested in becoming a plumber, you should get an inside perspective first. Call or email a few plumbers in your area and ask them if they would mind you interviewing them about the work they do.

They'll be able to give you a much better idea of what you can expect when you start working as a plumber. Their insight could prove to be invaluable once you start studying to become a plumber.

4. Check the Demand for Plumbers in Your Community

The final thing you should do before you fully commit to becoming a plumber is check to see what the demand for plumbers is like in your area.

Are there more plumbers in your town than plumbing jobs? Or are there way too many plumbing companies at the moment?

While the demand for plumbers is there on a national level, your specific town could be different. Make sure you're not jumping into a field that's already too crowded in your community.

5. Take Technical Plumbing Courses

If you've decided that becoming a licensed plumber is definitely what you want to do, enroll yourself in technical plumbing courses.

You can find these courses through:

  • A local community college
  • A local plumbing union
  • A trade institution
  • A professional plumbing association

In these courses, you'll learn a little bit of everything about plumbing. Some of the topics you'll go over will include pipe cutting, draining, venting, and more. You'll also touch on the plumbing codes in your city and state in most cases.

6. Make Sure You're Interested in the Technical Courses You Take

Do you find yourself dozing off during your technical plumbing courses, or are you bored beyond belief with the topics your teacher touches on?

This could be another indication that plumbing isn't the right field for you. Your technical courses should appeal to you and prove to be interesting.

If you're not getting anything out of your courses, consider going in a different direction. Once you move on to the next step, you're really going to have to commit to becoming a licensed plumber.

7. Find a Plumbing Company That Will Allow You to Serve an Apprenticeship

After you're done taking technical plumbing courses, it'll be time for you to get some real-world plumbing experience. You'll do this by becoming an apprentice to a licensed plumber.

Plumbing companies will often hire apprentices to work for them. These apprenticeships are usually paid, though that's not always the case.

Find a company willing to take a chance on you. Be prepared to explain why the company should pick you to be their apprentice.

8. Serve as an Apprentice to a Licensed Plumber for a Few Years

Plumbing apprenticeships last for different amounts of time. It all depends on the plumbing company and how quickly the apprentice picks up on certain things on the job.

You will usually have to serve as a plumbing apprentice for somewhere between 2 and 5 years. During this time, you'll be expected to commit to your craft and spend long hours learning plumbing techniques.

9. Learn Everything You Can by Working on the Job

As you serve your time as an apprentice, do not be afraid to ask lots of questions and learn as much as you can. If you want to know how to install a backwater valve properly, see if someone can show you how to do it.

The plumbing company that brought you on board should be fully aware of the fact that you don't know everything there is to know about plumbing. They should take the time to make sure you learn things you don't know while working alongside plumbers with more experience.

10. Study to Take the Test Required to Become a Licensed Plumber

At the end of your apprenticeship, you'll be so close to being a licensed plumber. The only left to do will be to take the test administered in your state to obtain your license.

Different states have different testing requirements when it comes to obtaining a plumbing license. Check to see what you need to do to get a license in your specific state.

Once you know, study hard so that you're able to pass your test. Most tests will require you to show what you learned in the classroom in your technical courses as well as what you learned during your apprenticeship.

11. Obtain Your Plumbing License

As long as everything goes according to plan, you should pass your state's plumbing test with flying colors and earn the right to obtain your plumbing license.

You'll usually need to submit an application to get your license and pay a small fee before your state sends it to you. Once you've done this, you should have your hands on your license in no time.

12. Become a Part of Your Local Plumbing Union

Plumbers have the option of joining a local plumbing union if they want. You can actually join one before becoming a licensed plumber if you so choose. About 30 percent of plumbers decide to do it.

If you haven't done it already prior to becoming a licensed plumber, you should consider doing it now. Joining a plumbing union can help you land your first job and provide you with the resources you need to get your career off on the right foot.

13. Start Working as a Licensed Plumber

Whether you choose to be a part of a plumbing union or not, you'll be able to start working as a plumber once you have your license.

But you'll never stop learning while you're on the job. One of the things that will keep your plumbing career so exciting is that you'll always be learning new things about the world of plumbing.

Find Out More About How to Become a Licensed Plumber Today

Now that you know how to become a licensed plumber, it's time for you to get out there and make something of yourself.

If plumbing is something that interests you, you should have no problem staying engaged in your technical courses. You should also be excited once it comes time to start working as an apprentice and learning everything you'll need to know to become a licensed plumber one day.

Check out our blog for more information about some of the other careers that you can launch. Plumbing, as it turns out, isn't the only high-paying trade school job that's available today.