Plumbing Apprenticeship Programs: Union and Non-Union for Plumbers

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are among some of the highest-paid and all-around best trade jobs. They earn around $54,000 annually or about $26 per hour. The field has an excellent job outlook, with the BLS predicting a 14 percent increase in plumbing by the year 2028. If you are looking for ways to enter the plumbing industry, then this blog post is for you!

What Is a Plumbing Apprenticeship?

Plumber apprenticeships are defined as paid “learn-while-you-earn” programs. They allow those with no training to earn a living while building knowledge in a very specialized skilled trade. Plumbers typically receive hands-on training at job sites, as well as some technical instruction. At the end of their apprenticeships, apprentices must pass a licensing exam to become journey-level plumber. Some plumbers also take on another year of apprenticeship to earn master status, which is required in some states to obtain a plumbing contractor’s license.

Every plumber needs to start somewhere; There are two types of plumbing apprenticeships: union or non-union; whether you pick one or another, these programs provide valuable knowledge and experience that will help shape your future career as an experienced professional.

What qualifications do you need for a plumbing apprenticeship?

The qualifications for plumbing apprenticeships vary depending on the Union or non-union organization you are training with.

Union Apprenticeships vs. Non-Union

Union apprenticeship programs are a good option for people who want to work in plumbing. Union apprenticeship programs can guarantee you higher wages and benefits, job security, unlimited training opportunities, and more reliable employment.

Non-union plumbing apprenticeships offer similar advantages as unionized agreements but without the same guarantees of protection or pay rates.

If you’re interested in working for a union, you typically need to have passed high school algebra and read at an eighth-grade level.

Non-union apprenticeships may require a high school diploma or GED, but this varies depending on the company you’re with. Most of these organizations will provide training and then connect workers to a plumbing job once they’ve acquired enough skills in the field.

Apprenticeship Programs

whether you’re looking to become a union or non-union plumber, apprenticeships offer many advantages.

For one thing, you’ll earn good money while gaining the necessary skills for success in your chosen career field!

Some of these programs also have flexible schedules, allowing workers to continue their education on nights and weekends. The more training they’ve got under their belts, the better.

Union apprenticeships have a set wage and benefits regardless of your work experience or education level. Non-union apprenticeship programs are more flexible in this regard and may offer higher wages for people who’ve never completed an apprenticeship before or those with professional experience.

The pay is good either way, but you have to decide what you need to get out of the program before deciding which one is right for you. Pick the best option base on what you are looking for and not on which one can offer the most money.

The length of time for an apprenticeship program varies from six months to five years and depends on your level of experience or education and union versus non-union status.

Union programs are usually more expensive because they offer a set wage with benefits that last throughout the course of their training.

Non-Union programs are usually less expensive because students pay for tuition and books on an individual basis instead of paying all at once upfront. They also have the option of finishing early or taking time off without jeopardizing future employment prospects.

What kind of work does union vs. non-union performance?

Union plumbers often do projects for more involved, longer-lasting jobs (building large-scale plumbing systems), while nonunion employees focus on smaller, less complicated construction projects. For that reason picking a union or non-union apprenticeship program will depend on what you want to accomplish.

How much do 1st-year apprentice plumbers earn?

The salary for first-year plumbers is not fixed and it varies depending on the type of apprenticeship program and the state you are in. Apprentices can earn between $24,000 to $45,000 annually with a union plumbing apprenticeship contract while non-union apprentice programs usually offer an hourly wage range between $12-$25.

In conclusion, if you’re looking to build a long-term career in plumbing, then the trade union may be the best option. If you’re not sure how far along your future plans are or if you want the freedom and flexibility of non-union training programs, it’s worth considering and weighing both options.

The job outlook for both options is great as the demand for qualified plumbers is high. So as you consider your future, think about how the plumbing apprenticeship programs can help get you to where you want to be.

How to Become a Plumber?

Starting a career in the plumbing industry can be an exciting and rewarding experience. The following post will provide information on how to become a plumber, what skills are needed, what the job entails, what to expect, and much more!

In today’s market, it is hard to find someone who is not familiar with plumbing. From repairing pipes around your home to installing large-scale systems at construction sites, plumbers are often skilled professionals that you need for any number of projects.

become a plumber

Is a plumber a good career?

In the United States, there is no doubt that plumbing jobs are in demand. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for plumbers will grow 11% from 2014-2024 which is faster than average.

It is a career that is always in need of plumbers and you don’t need to get a college degree to do it. If you are looking for a job that doesn’t require one, plumbing is a perfect choice! You can work under a supervision of a licensed plumber and start making money while you study and prepare for the exams to get your license.

Do Plumbers make good money?

You can make quite a bit of money as a plumber and it varies based on the location you are working in. It is estimated that an average salary for plumbing jobs can range between $50,000 to over $80,000 per year depending on your experience level and where you work.

The average hourly rate for a plumber is around $60 per hour. Plumbing work can be done on an hourly or flat-rate basis and plumbing contractors charge different rates depending on the size of the plumbing job they are scheduling.

If you are serious about this and looking for an affordable career with plenty of opportunities to move up quickly and make a good amount of money, plumbing might be the right choice for you.

Is plumbing hard to get into?

No, there is no specific degree that you need to become a plumber. Instead of focusing on an educational path, it may be more useful for people looking into the trade to focus on skills and experience instead. The most important thing to have when starting out in this field is patience and determination. You will spend some time at plumbing school learning the trade, but this is a supplement to your experience and skills.

What Kinds of plumber jobs are there?

There are 3 main category jobs you can do or specialize in.

Residential plumbing jobs: work on residential properties like homes, condos, and mobile homes. Often times you’ll be doing more of the maintenance type repairs or replacements rather than new installations because it is a cheaper option for homeowners.

Commercial plumbing jobs: are typically larger projects that involve installing fixtures in stores, restaurants, hotels, and office buildings.

Industrial plumbing jobs: are more hands-on, require a lot of experience and typically have higher salaries. Examples might be in manufacturing plants or the petrochemical industry.

*Contractors also work on commercial properties like restaurants, hotels, office buildings, etc., but they may specialize to some extent with their own niche projects rather than plumbing jobs in general.

*Plumbers may work for other contractors or they may be self-employed; their rates will vary depending upon what company they’re working with or whether it’s a contract job.

Many plumbers work in a number of different positions at one time, and many also begin their careers with one type (such as residential new construction) before adopting another type (maintenance and repairs).

How do I get started as a plumber?

To get started you will need to have some basic skills. You will need to be able to do simple math, read blueprints and understand plumbing codes before you can start working in the field. From there, you’ll want to get a job as an apprentice with a licensed plumber or spend time at plumbing school learning more about the trade.

plumber student

Get a plumbing apprenticeship

There are three levels of plumber.

1) Apprentice (pipeline technician or assistant level)

2) Journeyman Plumber

3) Master Plumber

The job levels in the plumbing industry make it clear how much training and experience someone has as well as what license they hold. They also signify the level of control that the plumber has over their work, which is important to note. Let’s start with the lowest of them.

Apprentice Plumber: The majority of new plumbers start with a plumbing apprenticeship program because it’s the most affordable and quickest way to learn to plumb.

-Apprenticeship programs are available for both experienced plumbers or those with no experience in plumbing.

-In apprenticeships, an apprentice learns all aspects of running a business from managing accounts receivable/payable to how to operate machinery like jackhammers, saws, and vacuum pumps.

-Apprenticeship programs also teach plumbing theory and give insight on how to do jobs like installing valves, faucets, pipes, or other fixtures.

-The length of apprenticeships can be as short as six months for inexperienced plumbers and up to five years for those with experience in the trade.

The minimum requirements to enter an apprenticeship program is that you are at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED.

Once you finish your education, take the plumbing license exam in your state, and pass the exam, you will be ready to enter the workforce as a qualified, licensed journeyman plumber.

Journeyman Plumber: This is the middle level of experience and responsibility in the plumbing trade. Journeyman plumbers work for contractors or are self-employed, often leading their own crews of apprentices or helpers.

To become a journeyman you must first have a completed the apprentice program, have a license, and work for at least four years as an apprentice, before applying to take your Journeyman examination.

Because a Journeyman carries more responsibility you will be rewarded with a higher salary and benefits, even though you have more autonomy you still required to work under the supervision of a master plumber which will be going to discuss next.

Master Plumber: to become a master plumber which is the highest level of plumbing you must have a journeyman license and have been in the trade for several years required by the state you are in.

Master Plumbers are rarely self-employed, they work under a master contractor or supervise other plumbers while on job sites.

A master plumber is responsible for overseeing all aspects of plumbing projects from start to finish including estimating jobs, hiring workers, doing quality control, and overseeing the installation of new plumbing systems.

A master plumber can make upwards of $100,000 a year.

plumber apprenticeship

Differences between Plumber, Pipefitter, and Steamfitter:

Plumber:  A plumber designs, installs, and repairs residential and commercial installations of lower pressure pipes and fixtures for freshwater, fluids for heating and cooling systems, and fire sprinkler systems.

Pipefitter:  A pipefitter is an individual who installs, assembles or repairs piping systems made of metal sheeting that carry larger volumes and higher pressures.

Steamfitter:  A steamfitter builds and repairs heating, air-conditioning, or refrigeration systems that use steam. This includes boiler plants for generating the steam, piping distribution networks through which it flows to heat buildings or cools them down, as well as valves and other fittings necessary to direct the flow of steam into structures.

How long does it take to train as a plumber?

it can take you anywhere from one year to four years depending on what plumbing course you choose.

The most crucial years are the first two, where you will learn about plumbing in-depth and understand the theory behind it.

In the first year, you will learn how to identify plumbing materials, tools, and equipment. You will also learn about the function of the different components in a plumbing system.

In the second year, you get practical experience with hands-on work like installing fixtures or doing repairs under supervision from an experienced plumber.

in the third and four years, you will learn about plumbing codes and regulations. You’ll also get a chance to become certified, which involves passing an exam that is administered by the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICE).

How much does it cost to study plumbing?

it can cost anywhere from $500 to more than $5000 depending on the plumbing school.

It’s important to know that there are a couple of different types of training available: apprenticeship programs and certifications. Apprenticeships take between three months and two years, while some certifications can be completed in as little as ten days.

Can you do a plumbing course online?

Yes! Online courses are available for different levels of plumbing study and training. There are online classes that will help you get your feet wet without taking on a full-time apprenticeship program.