How To Become A Journeyman Plumber | 5 Steps To A Journeyman’s Certification

Like any career path, there are a number of steps you’ll have to take to get to the top of the ladder. In the plumbing trades, you start off with a plumbing apprenticeship then eventually make your way up the ranks to a certified master plumber.  And before that though, you’ll need to know how to become a Journeyman Plumber.

The three main levels of the plumbing trade are apprentices, journeymen, and master plumbers.  In this article, we’ll cover 5 important steps in the 2nd phase of your plumbing career: becoming a certified Journeyman plumber.

5 Steps In How to Become A Journeyman Plumber

If you are completely new to the plumbing trades, we highly recommend you visit our Plumbing Apprenticeships By State page first.  There, you’ll find state-specific apprenticeship information and requirements that you’ll need to meet in order to apply.

Step 1: Get Your High School Diploma or GED Equivalent

The very first and most elementary step in how to become a journeyman plumber is getting your education.  High school graduates have the best chance of landing a plumbing apprenticeship because of the english, math and applied physics skills, which will help when taking the apprentice plumbing aptitude test.If you do not have a high school diploma, a GED certificate will work in the vast majority of apprenticeship programs.

Step 2: Join a Plumbing Apprenticeship Program

Joining a plumbing apprenticeship program is the next step in your plumbing career.  Once you locate a local union in your area, or other apprenticeship programs, you’ll first need to make sure you meet the initial requirements.As stated in the first step, you’ll need to have a high school diploma or GED certificate in order to be eligible for an apprenticeship position in most states.

Other requirements include a minimum age of 18, valid driver’s license, reliable transportation and a possible drug screening for admission into the program.Once you’ve been accepted as an apprentice by a union or private practice plumber, you’ll work under a journeyman or master plumber for a set number of years.  Usually this is between 4 and 5 years and includes a combination of on-the-job training and plumbing courses.

Step 3: Complete the Required Number of Classroom and On-the-Job Training Hours

Each plumbing apprenticeship will have it’s own minimum number of work and classroom hours that How to become a journeyman plumber in 5 stepsyou’ll need to complete in order to become eligible for the Journeyman’s Plumbing exam.  These vary from state to state so make sure you check your state’s requirements.Generally speaking, you should expect to complete at least 2000 hours of work experience per year, and then another 250 or so classroom hours/year. These numbers are not set in stone, but rather a rough average of what many states will expect.

You are probably thinking, “Wow, that’s a long time to be in training”.  This is true, but the good thing is that plumber apprentice wages are pretty good.  You’ll earn roughly half of what a Journeyman’s salary is.  The going rate for a Journeyman plumber these days is in the mid to upper $30’s per hour.  Knowing this, you should expect to make anywhere from $16 to $20/hour as an apprentices.  These numbers will vary depending on your state and where you live.

Step 4: Take the Journeyman’s Plumbing Exam

The next step in how to become a journeyman plumber has to do with passing your test.  Once your formal education is complete you should be eligible to take your state’s journeyman’s plumbing exam. Inquire within your local union or your states department of labor to see when and where you can sit in on the exam.  If you completed your plumbing apprenticeship through a private plumbing company, you will need to obtain an affidavit that confirms that you’ve met the state’s requirements and are eligible.

If you have not completed your apprenticeship classroom and on the job training hours, you cannot take the journeyman’s exam.

The exam is mostly made up of multiple choice questions that will include state, federal and local plumbing codes, maintenance and repair questions, as well as your general knowledge of plumbing systems.  There may also be a practical, hands on portion where you’ll have to demonstrate your skills using tools and certain plumbing fixtures.  However, once your finished with your apprenticeship you should be very well prepared for the exam.

For a better idea of what’s on the written Journeyman’s Exam, see this practice test.

Step 5: Get Your State Journeyman Plumber’s License

On successfully passing the examination, you will be granted a state license related to plumbing as well as a journeyman plumber certification.  This license will have a fee associated with it, and will also have to be renewed yearly.  The fee is nominal, but make sure you keep your certification current.

What Is A Journeyman Plumber Salary?

Once you’ve reached your goal of becoming a journeyman plumber, you will have an increase in salary, which is never a bad thing.  Salaries for Journeyman and Master plumbers are different in every state and region.  It really depends on where you live, as the most populated areas will generally pay more than rural areas.

Journeyman plumbers generally make between $25 and $35 per hour, depending on experience and region.  Also, some Journeyman are compensated for overtime hours (over 40/week) and also emergency calls.  These pay rates vary, but are generally around time and a half, which could push the hourly rate to over $50/hour!  Not bad, but remember that emergency calls could come on holidays or in the middle of the night, which is never convenient.

Hopefully you have a better knowledge of how to become a journeyman plumber.  As stated before, journeyman status is the 2nd phase in your career as a plumber.  Once you are a journeyman, you should be working towards becoming a certified master plumber.


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