Lay Pipes for Money: How to Become a Plumbing Contractor

Written by
Rebecca Smith

Published
May 14, 2019

May 14, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Did you know the average wage for a plumber is $52,590?

If that's more than what you're earning at your current job, you may want to make a change and become a plumber.

But if you don't know much about plumbing, you may not know how to make the switch. Do you need to take any special courses? Will you need to apply for a license?

Read on to learn more about how you can become a plumbing contractor. If you want to change your fate, these tips will show you what it takes to become a well-paid plumber.

Let's begin!

Undertake a Plumbing Apprenticeship

Perhaps the best way to become a plumber is by undertaking an apprenticeship.

This is where you go through a combination of classroom learning, alongside practical work experience.

Generally, an apprenticeship will last around four years. This might sound like a lot of time, but it's important to note you'll be paid during your time as an apprentice.

Now, the pay might not amount to what you'd earn as a full-time plumber. But, once the apprenticeship is over, you'll be able to take on jobs that pay you very well.

Your local plumber's union/association will help you become a plumbing apprentice. Usually, all you have to do is call them, and they'll tell you how to get the ball rolling.

Before you can undertake an apprenticeship, you'll have to take a special entrance exam, as well as a background check. Depending on where you live, you may also need to do a drug test.

Once you go through this process, you can then become a plumbing apprentice. Most of the time, the body that guided you through this initial stage will help you find an apprenticeship opportunity.

But in some cases, you might not receive any help, and you may need to call up some local plumbing contractors on your own.

Don't let this intimidate you since plenty of existing plumbers had to go through this exact process. Because of this, many of them will be happy to give you an opportunity.

Obtain Your License

If you want to become a full-time plumber, you're going to need a license.

To get a license, you'll need to have spent a certain amount of time as a plumbing apprentice.

The required amount of time will vary depending on the location you live in. Some places will be happy with two years worth of work experience, and others will need as much as four years.

To obtain your license, you'll need to sit for an exam.

This exam can be difficult, but there are plenty of resources that'll help you prepare for it.

For instance, you'll find that people offer 'study guides' that teach you how to pass the exam. You may need to pay for these study guides, but the cost is worth it when you consider that passing the exam will allow you to work as a plumber.

This exam comes in two parts, as one section is dedicated to theoretical knowledge while the other focuses on practical ability.

The theoretical side of the exam will test your knowledge of specific rules and regulations related to the plumbing industry. It's important to note that each region will have different rules and regulations. This is something to keep in mind when reviewing revision material.

The practical side of the exam will test your ability to solve problems and to use tools. This might mean you need to cut a pipe or apply a certain bolt. But it could also mean you need to figure out how to deal with a certain plumbing issue.

Getting Work as a Plumber

Once you pass your exam, you then need to think about how you're going to get work.

One option is to work for an existing plumbing company.

This can be a good option because it allows you to earn a steady wage.

You're also able to join a team, and this can be good if you like to work with other people. Depending on the kind of company you join, you may also be able to increase your salary, as you gain experience.

However, if you don't like the idea of working for someone else, there's the option of starting your own plumbing business.

This is an excellent way to gain some independence, but it's not without its challenges.

For instance, if you're going to be an independent plumber, you'll need to put aside a large amount of startup capital.

Some of this money will go towards equipment, but you'll also need a truck that's big enough to store your equipment. You'll also need to pay for insurance so that you're covered in case anything happens while you're working a project.

You'll also need to grind it out for a while before you build a solid brand. During this period, you may not earn much money, compared to what you'd make as a salaried plumber.

Now, if your goal is to become a self-employed plumber, you don't have to let the above intimidate you, and you just need to take a long term view on things.

This might mean you work for a plumbing company while you build your own business on the side. Then once your own business is doing well, and money is coming in, you can leave your employer and work for yourself.

Ready to Become a Plumbing Contractor?

If you want to become a plumbing contractor, the tips in this post should help you understand how you can achieve your goal.

It'll take several years before you can become a qualified plumber. This can be frustrating, but unfortunately, there's no way around this.

That said, if you want to be a plumber for the rest of your working life, then a few years of training isn't a huge inconvenience. After all, if you can get through this initial rough patch, you'll have a secure position in an industry that's set to last for many, many years.

If you master online marketing, you'll find it easier to attract clients for your plumbing business. Check out this post to learn about some of the marketing skills you need to study.