How to Become a Plumber (With Skills Guide)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 27 October 2022

Published 25 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you find joy in interacting with people and helping mend essential systems at home or in the offices, becoming a plumber might perfectly suit you. Plumbing is a career with a variety of opportunities and potentially great rewards. Learning more about this career path could help determine whether it's right for you. In this article, we discuss how to become a plumber, provide the common salary expectations and list the skills you may use in this career.

How to become a plumber

This guide shows how to become a plumber:

1. Get your high school diploma

If you already have or are currently working towards obtaining your high school diploma, you could qualify for a plumbing career. People without a diploma may earn a General Educational Diploma (GED). In addition to these, plumbers need a strong foundation in computer, math, science and technology subjects. Also, consider taking drafting classes to increase your skills and knowledge.

You may also consider taking a local community college or library course to develop your administrative, computer and other related skills. Some courses provide instruction in software programs. Some courses teach specialised IT principles, which could help you develop technical skills for your career.

2. Complete vocational training for plumbing

You may complete highly specified vocational training. To achieve this training, consider enrolling in an accredited technical institution that teaches plumbing vocational classes. This training may enable you to become certified in drainage systems, water and piping equipment.

3. Complete a plumbing apprenticeship

After completing vocational training, you may complete a plumbing apprenticeship. In most apprenticeships, you may complete a given number of classroom hours before gaining acceptance. The required number of hours varies depending on the nature of the apprenticeship. A plumbing apprenticeship offers you on-the-job training on plumbing codes, plumbing procedures and related specialised skills.

As an apprentice you get exposed to an environment that helps you learn, gain in-depth training and work under an experienced plumber's supervision. It offers a chance for you to gain field exposure to the plumbing profession.

Related: What is an Apprenticeship?

4. Get licenced

Most organisations require every plumber to have a licence. Depending on your place of residence, you may complete a given number of classroom hours, gain physical experience and complete an apprenticeship before proceeding to take an exam to obtain a licence. This exam helps determine the plumber's expertise and knowledge of plumbing codes and procedures. To qualify, you may have several years of experience, at least a high school diploma or a combination of both. You can then take an exam to demonstrate your skills.

5. Gain experience

With your plumbing licence, you may look for work to start gaining experience as a professional plumber. In this process, you may look for internships to help you advance more in this career, acquire new skills and develop the already existing ones. With time, you may also advance and acquire the role of a master plumber, which may mean increased benefits and salary.

What does a plumber do?

Plumbers' roles include installing, maintaining and fixing broken water or gas pipes, heating units, sanitation systems and other related areas in residential and commercial settings. They could also design and monitor plumbing systems to confirm their adherence to all codes and regulations. They primarily work alone and may travel long or short distances regularly to make required repairs. Plumbers also install toilets, sinks, bathtubs and other related appliances.

The duties of a plumber are as follows:

  • Moving from one home to another or business to assess and repair any plumbing problems

  • Offering estimates of the cost of repairs

  • Regulating issues and offering advice on the best and long-run fixes

  • Reading and clarifying blueprints to plan new installations

  • Installing pipes, mending broken ones and other related fixtures

  • Operating special test equipment to detect issues

  • Installing and restoring broken plumbing-related devices

  • Cutting, collecting and welding pipes, tubes, fittings and other related fixtures

  • Certifying that all work complies with all regulations and codes

Read more: What Do Plumbers Do? A Complete Guide of Duties and Skills

Skills needed to become a plumber

If you're wondering how to become a plumber, it can help to be aware of the necessary skills for the job. Plumbers require hard and soft skills to succeed in their work. Some of examples may include:

Communication

These skills enable them to communicate effectively by applying active listening and speaking skills. Plumbers may use these skills to help them clearly understand their clients' desires and expectations. They may also offer recommendations clearly and give customers clear price estimates. When writing reports, plumbers require basic knowledge of writing and grammar.

Computer skills

Besides hands-on skills, plumbers need administrative skills that may help them handle basic computer programs, such as word processing or spreadsheet programs. They may also use software applied in a company, for instance, project and budgeting programs to maintain their business. You might also strive to gain knowledge and skills in computer programs that are commonly used in your industry.

Related: Computer Skills: Definition and Examples

Critical thinking and problem-solving

These skills help break a challenge down into its parts, find its cause and offer advice on the best solution. Plumbers may use these skills when repairing plumbing issues to help them scrutinise information, find the cause and offer applicable solutions. You may gain this skill by working with experienced plumbers to guide you.

Technical skills

Plumbers require industry-specific skills such as reading blueprints, installing, repairing pipes and acknowledging industry-specific codes and regulations to help them succeed in their role. They may also familiarise themselves with plumbers' tools and materials required to complete their work effectively. This can reduce the time they take to examine a challenge and resolve it using the available tools.

Related: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Time management

These skills help you balance and prioritise projects, helping you complete your work on time. It may also enable you to maintain a work-life balance. Since experienced plumbers primarily work unsupervised, they may use time management skills to work effectively and deliver their services on time.

Read: Using the Pomodoro Technique to Master Time Management

Physical strength and stamina

Plumbing requires strong physical capacity since it involves standing, sitting, bending and lying down while working extensively in small-sized spaces on pipes and fixtures. Therefore, plumbers may gain physical strength and balance to meet their job's demands. Plumbers may have the following physical skills:

  • Flexibility: Plumbers may go to different extensive areas, which might be underground, above the ceiling, under the sinks and other tight places.

  • Good vision: Plumbers may work in poorly lit places with tiny tools, such as gauges. This typically requires good visual skills.

  • Physical strength: Physical strength is crucial when carrying huge pipes. Plumbers may also hold equipment for long and tighten fittings.

  • Fine motor skills: Plumbers often use small tools and equipment, which involves using advanced fine motor skills.

Typical work environment for plumbers

Plumbers may work in both outdoor and indoor environments. Some plumbers work in residential and others offer their services in commercial and industrial buildings. Others work in both of these areas. Plumbing is physical work that involves long periods of standing, bending and kneeling. In addition, the working environment of a plumber might expose them to uncomfortable positions and harsh weather conditions. These professionals' work schedule is unpredictable and they may be available on-call for emergencies. Unlike most other careers, this one requires them to work during weekends, evenings and overtime hours since these are common timings for job opportunities.

Average salary of a plumber

Plumbers work either on a full-time or part-time basis. Their pay differs depending on their education levels, experience levels, company size and location. The average salary for a plumber is $70,311 per year. Plumbers might also get additional remuneration in form of overtime. Some belong to labour unions that fight for salary rights on their part and they are therefore required to pay membership fees as members of these unions.

Plumber job description example

Here's an example job description to help you better understand this role:

Our construction company is seeking a licenced and experienced plumber to join our rapidly growing team. In this position, the plumber would be responsible for all aspects of installing, maintaining, inspecting and repairing the plumbing systems in new and rehab residential and commercial properties. The ideal candidate would have five or more years of experience as a plumber. The successful candidate would have a thorough understanding of local and state codes, regulations and safety practices and would be an excellent communicator who is deadline-oriented. We offer competitive pay, a comprehensive benefits package and consistent, long-term work.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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