Becoming a licensed plumber is a step by step process.
Not necessary, but suggested is a “Pre-Apprenticeship” program which can be found at community colleges and trade schools.
Find a plumbing company willing to take you on as an apprentice. (many companies look for completion of the pre-apprenticeship program).
Have your new employer register all the proper apprenticeship paperwork ( you will receive a copy).
If you change employers during your apprenticeship, make sure your indentureship is also changed to reflect your new situation.
Your employer will keep track of your hours worked, and at certain milestones (normally 1 year each), you will be sent to school for a period ranging from 4 – 6 weeks per year.
Upon completing a school session ( and assuming you have received a passing grade!) you will be considered a 2nd, 3rd or 4th year apprentice (dependent upon your status entering).
Upon completing your 4th year of trade school, you will write a final exam, which if passed, allows you to call yourself and be recognized as a “Journeyman”.
During your apprenticeship, you will be earning an above average salary, which will increase every year until you reach journeyman status, at which point you may expect to be earning anywhere between 18 and 35 dollars per hour. There is normally a increase for project management duties on larger jobs (foreman) and this can be significant. Starting wage for a first year apprentice is usually set as a percentage of the current journeyman rate. It seems to be quite common in practice for employers to set rates in accordance to the following scheme:
First year apprentice – 50% of journeyman rate.
Second year apprentice – 60% of journeyman rate
Third year apprentice – 70% of journeyman rate..
Fourth year apprentice – 80% of journeyman rate.
Upon completing trade school and passing of final examination – Journeyman rate.
Check out current journeyman wage rates for your area HERE
Skills that you will master during your apprenticeship will include (but not be limited to)
Reading and interpreting codes and regulation.
Planning and executing plumbing projects in concert with other trades.
Material joining skills ( soldering, brazing, mechanical joints).
Proper use and maintenance of tools and equipment.
Safety on the job.
Mathematics (minimal required).
Vocabulary required to communicate needs.
I would suggest (if possible), to work for the smallest company, and one which does not have a specific niche ( such as service work only, residential construction only), as you may end up spending much of your time in repetitive tasks and find yourself a journeyman with a narrow skill set. This can and does happen, as it is possible to complete your schooling without having the same range of experience as your classmates.
There are not many careers open that allow you to earn above average salaries while you learn, as well as allowing you to collect employment insurance while you attend schooling. Of course, much of the above information will apply to other trades as well, and if being a plumber doesn’t interest you, there are many other trades to consider, most of which will follow a similar path to completion.