Plumbing Apprenticeship Basics | 3 Steps to Start Your Plumbing Career

Every licensed plumber is required to finish a plumbing apprenticeship and related coursework prior to getting their first, full paid job.  And every plumber had to have some experience before being able to do the work properly. 

If you’re looking to get your foot into the door of the plumbing trades, we’re here to show you how to get a plumbing apprenticeship.

How Do You Get A Plumbing Apprenticeship?

There are few different ways to do this, considering the plumbing industry is huge.  Most people think that sinks and toilets is pretty much all plumbing consists of. But there are many different paths you can choose to take with plumbing and a lot of people make a good living with it.

As you may already know, obtaining an apprenticeship in plumbing is the fastest way to become a plumber.

Local Plumber’s Union Apprenticeships 

The most common way to get into a plumbing apprenticeship program is through your local plumber’s union.  Unions run their own programs, in-house and normally pair you up with a licensed journeyman or master plumber.  This is a great way to get into the industry and requires little effort when it comes to having to find your own plumber that’s willing to take you on as an apprentice.

Even better, is that most of these programs run the classroom component in-house as well.  This means that may not have to travel to a community college to complete your coursework as the classes are held at the local union hall.

Below is a list of the most common requirements you’ll have to meet prior to, and after applying for admission…

  • 18 Years of Age (some programs start earlier)
  • High School Graduate or GED Equivalent Certification
  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Social Security Card
  • Provide Reliable Transportation
  • Take an Aptitutde Test (includes Algebra, Geometry, Physics, English Reading/Writing)
  • Physically Able To Perform Daily Plumbing Tasks
  • Take and Pass a Drug Test
  • Personal Interview

Again, these are just general requirements.  Your apprenticeship program or union may have you do more or less depending on their specific requirements.

Also worth noting is that union plumbing apprenticeships are very popular and often get hundreds of applicants.  They may or may not be hiring at the time you are applying, but getting your application on file is essential if you want a shot at an opening once it comes available.

Now that you’ve got your application on file with the local plumber’s union, it’s time to look elsewhere…

How to Get an Apprenticeship With A Licensed Plumber

Next on the list is finding a private plumbing company that is willing to take you on as an apprentice.  This is a “round about” way of getting into an apprenticeship, but may give you a better shot than having your resume sit in a pile of hundreds at the union.

What you need to do is to make a resume and print a dozen copies or so. Visit every plumbing company in your area and hand them your resume. They may not be hiring an apprentice, but you can still tell them to keep your resume on file, as they may be hiring soon.

Now, many people will simply email their resume because it’s easier and requires little to no work on your part.  Don’t do that!

If you want to truly understand how to get a plumbing apprenticeship, you need to understand this: Making an effort is what matters. If you get up at the crack of dawn andPlumbing apprenticeship is the first step to become a plumber get to a plumbing shop early, someone will notice that.  And, that “someone” just may be the person in charge, which would be HUGE points for you!

Your resume needs to have everything included, meaning that any plumbing knowledge you have should be mentioned. You really shouldn’t make anything up here because your knowledge may be put to the test first, and no one wants to hire a liar. A plumbing company would rather work with an apprentice that doesn’t know much than with an apprentice that lies and cuts corners.

You need to find a plumbing company that will consider hiring you and give you an apprenticeship. This may not be the easy road, but it’s one that not as many people take and could give you the best opportunity to get hired.

To find plumbing apprentice job openings in your area, use our Plumber Job Search

Don’t Just Sit Around – Get Plumbing Experience!

If you don’t have any success with private companies or your local plumbing union, try a trade school.  Here’s the deal, plumber’s apprenticeships require two components to become licensed: On-The-Job Training and Classroom Training.  If you can get a head start on your coursework, it will do two things…

  1. Cut down the total classroom hours you’ll need to take while in your apprenticeship
  2. Impress the Union or Plumbing Company that you’re trying to get hired by

You will notice that most schools offer one to two years of courses. The programs these schools have are offering full introduction to plumbing, as well as the more advanced plumbing techniques. You will not only gain some knowledge on plumbing, you will also knock off a couple of hours you will need to get the apprenticeship.

You can get your foot in the door by going to a trade school. This will increase your chances of a plumbing company to notice you. The trade school or community college itself can’t make you a plumber, but sometimes they can assist you with finding an apprenticeship for your on-the-training.  

Now that we’ve show your how to get a plumbing apprenticeship, it’s up to you to get out there and do it.  The key is to not just submit an application and sit around waiting for something to happen.  Make sure you are always doing something to help your chances of getting hired as an apprentice.


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