To become a plumber, obtain a high school diploma or GED, and then find an apprenticeship program and participate in the program for up to five years, advises the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Plumbers are required to obtain licensure through most states and localities, as of March 2015.
On-the-job training is the most common route for would-be plumbers to break into the field, notes the BLS. Apprenticeships allow plumbers to learn hands-on skills while working under a licensed plumber. Apprentices are generally required to take anywhere from 1,700 to 2,000 hours of training and a minimum of 246 hours of technical school education, although this requirement may differ by location.
Apprentices learn the basics of plumbing under a master plumber. This includes learning local codes and regulations for plumbing, reading blueprints and working safely. Once the apprentice has finished the program, he is classified as a journey worker and can begin to do plumbing work without supervision. After working for several years, plumbers have the ability to attain master plumber status. Many states require the master plumber to also obtain a plumbing contractor’s license, although this requirement also varies.
When technical courses are taken or required, they usually revolve around tool use, safety and design of pipe systems. Some courses may also offer training in welding or other plumbing-related tasks.