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Education and Training

The plumber profession is a career that requires extensive training to obtain the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful. Atlanta Plumbers use various tools and equipment to install, repair, and maintain multiple plumbing systems in commercial, industrial, and residential settings. They must be able to understand the principles and working concepts of these systems, as well as read blueprints and commercial drawings to work effectively.


The training required for becoming a plumber is typically done through a union or trade organization apprenticeship, a college degree program focused on the field of plumbing, or through on-the-job experience as an apprentice or journeyman under a master plumber for a specific number of years.

Many people are interested in becoming a plumber, but are not sure how to begin. First, they should understand that plumbing is a trade, which means it is not a traditional four- or five-year bachelor’s degree program. The majority of plumbers learn through apprenticeship programs run by their local union or trade organization. These programs typically last four or five years and combine classroom instruction with hands-on training.

After completing their education and apprenticeship, plumbers must then take a state or local trade exam to become licensed. Depending on the location, this process may require several years to complete, and it can vary by region, which has its own licensing requirements that are different from the rest of the state.

The main job duties of a plumber include installing and repairing pipes, fixtures, and appliances, as well as maintaining and inspecting plumbing systems and equipment. They also must be able to handle hazardous materials, such as waste, chemicals, and gases. Plumbers can specialize in a few areas, such as residential plumbing (installing and repairing pipes, fixtures, and appliances in homes), commercial plumbing (building and maintaining plumbing systems in offices, retail stores, hospitals, and more), or medical gas piping (installing and repairing piping that delivers nitrous oxide and oxygen to patients in operating rooms). These specializations allow plumbers to focus on their area of expertise, which makes them more valuable to employers.

Job Duties

Whether they work on residential or commercial properties, plumbers perform a wide range of tasks related to water supply lines and drainage systems. They may install or repair toilets, sinks, showers, bathtubs and other fixtures; inspect and test plumbing equipment; assemble, fit and connect pipes; and make sure all work complies with applicable codes and regulations. Plumbers also use hand and power tools to work in tight spaces and around objects.

After completing trade school or an apprenticeship program, plumbers should have the technical skills and knowledge to do their jobs well. This includes being familiar with a variety of pipe materials and fittings, as well as how to read and interpret blueprints. They must be able to troubleshoot problems and come up with effective solutions. Plumbers often interact directly with customers, so they must be polite and professional and be able to explain complex issues in simple terms.

Some plumbers specialize in specific types of fixtures, such as gas or water heaters. Others focus on maintaining and repairing existing pipes and systems. Some may even design and build plumbing fixtures. These positions typically require more experience and skills than other plumbing roles.

In addition to their technical know-how, plumbers should be able to read and interpret blueprints, have excellent customer service skills and be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. They should be proficient with a variety of tools, including wrenches, drain snakes, electric drills, hammers and saws. Plumbers should also be comfortable working with chemicals and solvents that are used in the course of their work, as well as following detailed safety procedures.

Providing a clear and concise job description can help attract qualified candidates for a given position. When posting a plumber job description, employers should include the required education and training and any other relevant qualifications, such as previous experience or certifications. They should also state the desired salary or hourly rate for the position and describe any non-financial benefits, such as health insurance or paid vacation. Adding a call to action at the end of a job posting can also increase the number of applicants. For example, it may direct them to email their resumes to a designated person within the company or to apply online.

Requirements for Licensing

Most jurisdictions require plumbers to be licensed by their local government or state before they can begin work. Licensing requirements vary by location, but generally include completing a trade apprenticeship and earning a specific number of on-the-job experience hours before taking a licensing exam. In addition, most states require plumbers to carry a certain amount of liability insurance and may require them to obtain a bond before they can start working.

For example, in Alabama, a plumber must complete an approved apprentice training program and receive 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience before being eligible to take a licensing exam. In contrast, New Mexico requires 4,000 hours of work experience for someone seeking a journeyman license. Some locations also set minimum educational requirements for plumbers and require that all applicants pass a background check before becoming licensed.

After passing a licensing exam, a plumber can pursue advanced certifications to increase their marketability to employers or clients. These certifications may include National Inspection Testing and Certification (NITC), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (ASSE) or a master plumber’s certification. These credentials add value to a plumber’s resume and make them more competitive in the job market.

Some states require that all licensed plumbers carry general liability and workers’ compensation insurance, while others only require that they register as a contractor. In either case, these types of insurance and bonds help protect customers from damage to their property by ensuring that plumbers will remedy any problems with their work.

New York State does not require that plumbers be licensed at the state level, but city and county governments often do. In Ithaca, for instance, a master plumber must be registered in order to work in the city.

The registration process includes completing an application, paying a fee and providing proof of insurance coverage. In addition, Ithaca requires that plumbers attend continuing education classes to keep their licenses current. This helps ensure that plumbers stay up-to-date on the latest changes to state and city plumbing codes. This type of training is essential for plumbers because code updates are frequently made, and the failure to comply with these changes could result in a fine or a suspension of the plumber’s license.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for plumbers is a strong one. The demand for skilled trade workers is expected to increase, particularly as existing plumbing systems need repairs due to age and wear and tear. In addition, new construction and building renovations will create jobs in the field. Demand is also expected to grow as homeowners and businesses install more energy-efficient fixtures and septic systems. Government regulations that require more efficient toilets and showerheads may generate additional work as well.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment growth for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters is projected to exceed the national workforce average of 8% between 2024 and 2028. You can find projections for specific occupations and locations on the BLS website.

While the career outlook for plumbers is promising, you should consider carefully the responsibilities and pay expectations of the profession before making a commitment. The pay scale for a plumber can vary widely, depending on the level of experience and training. Apprentices and entry-level plumbers can expect to earn less than journey-level and master plumbers. In addition, completing a formal apprenticeship can cost thousands of dollars in tuition and lost wages.

In addition to performing installation and repair duties, plumbers may need to consult blueprints and technical specifications to ensure that their work meets building codes and complies with governmental regulations. On large projects, experienced plumbers may be involved in designing the layout of a system’s pipes and fixtures. Their input is essential to ensuring that the pipes will meet space and budget constraints while remaining functional and working well with other features, such as electric wires.

Whether you work on a large commercial construction project or are a residential plumber, your schedule will likely be set according to the needs of your employer or client. While some plumbers work a standard five-day workweek and have weekends off, others maintain flexible hours, especially those who own their own business. Many of these independent contractors are able to control their hours and choose which projects they take on, which provides the opportunity to earn overtime when desired.