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How Long Is Plumbing School? Answers You Need to Know

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Plumbing is an essential trade that involves installing, repairing, and maintaining systems that carry water, sewage, and gas in buildings. Becoming a plumber requires a combination of education and on-the-job training. But how long is plumbing school? What training options are available, and what do you need to know before starting this path? This article will answer these questions and more to help you understand what's involved in plumbing training.

How Long Is Plumbing School?

The length of plumbing school depends on the type of education you pursue. A pre-apprenticeship plumbing program at a vocational school can take four to 24 months to complete.

Plumbing apprenticeships typically last for four or five years. Some credits earned from previous trade school programs can be applied toward an apprenticeship to shorten it. The exact time length for gaining licensure varies depending on where you live.

Training Options for Plumbers

Various training options are available for aspiring plumbers, each with advantages and disadvantages. How long plumbing school takes will depend on the route you take. Here are some of the most common options:

Vocational Schools

Vocational schools offer certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs in plumbing that prepare students for entry-level positions and apprenticeships. These programs typically cover the basics of plumbing theory, tools, techniques, safety, and building codes. Pre-apprenticeship plumbing programs at vocational schools can take four to 24 months to complete, depending on the program's length and intensity (for example, fast-track programs).

Formal training can often work as a credit to lessen the number of apprenticeship hours required for licensure. It's important to check with your apprenticeship program of interest to see how schooling might affect how long your apprenticeship lasts.


Apprenticeships are the most common training option for plumbers. These programs combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training, allowing students to earn a salary while learning the trade. Apprenticeships typically last for four or five years, and the curriculum covers various topics, including plumbing codes, blueprint reading, and pipe fitting. Most states require anywhere from 2 to 6 years of apprenticeship before applying for a license.

Trade Unions

Trade unions are an excellent resource for individuals seeking experience and knowledge in plumbing and other skilled trades. With their time-tested apprenticeship programs, unions provide structured training that includes classroom instruction and hands-on learning experiences. By enrolling in these programs, apprentices gain access to a wealth of industry knowledge and expertise, as well as the opportunity to network with experienced professionals in the field.

In addition to training, trade unions often provide mentorship and job placement assistance to program graduates. These resources can help apprentices secure employment opportunities and advance their careers in the skilled trades. Plus, many trade unions are committed to promoting diversity in their programs and offer special apprenticeship readiness programs for women, people of color, and transitioning veterans.

Factors Affecting the Duration of Plumbing School

So, we've covered how long schooling and apprenticeships take, but how long does it take to become a plumber with journeyperson status? There are several factors to keep in mind:

Time Commitment

As we have seen, the length of plumbing school can vary depending on the type of education you pursue. For example, vocational school programs can take four to 24 months, while apprenticeships typically last for four or five years. Therefore, considering your time commitments and financial obligations before choosing a program is important.


The cost of plumbing school can also vary depending on the type of education you pursue. For example, vocational school programs can cost several thousand dollars, while apprenticeships are often paid positions that do not require upfront tuition fees. However, formal training could shave time off of your apprenticeship and get you a desirable position faster. It is important to research the cost of each option before making a decision.

Licensing Requirements

In most states, plumbers are required to be licensed. The requirements for licensure can vary depending on where you live, but generally involve:

  • Completing an apprenticeship
  • Passing a written exam
  • Meeting other qualifications such as background checks and insurance coverage

Personal factors

Individual dedication, learning pace, and previous experience can all affect the duration of plumbing education. Those with prior experience in construction or a related field may have a head start, while those new to the trade may need more time to learn the necessary skills.

Location and availability

The availability of plumbing education programs and apprenticeships can vary depending on location. Some areas may have more opportunities, while others may have limited options. Additionally, the competition for available apprenticeship positions can impact the time it takes to secure a spot in a program.


Can I work as a plumber while attending trade school?
Yes. Some students may work part-time or as apprentices while attending trade school to gain hands-on experience and earn money. However, it's essential to ensure that the workload does not interfere with your studies and ability to complete the program successfully.
Do I need to be licensed to work as a plumber?
Licensing requirements for plumbers vary by state. In most states, plumbers need to be licensed to perform work legally. Therefore, it's essential to research the specific licensing requirements for your state.
Can I become a plumber without attending trade school?
Yes, it's possible to become a plumber without attending trade school by completing an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training and classroom instruction, allowing you to learn the trade while earning a wage.
Is there a demand for plumbers?
Yes, there is a consistent demand for plumbers due to the need for maintenance, repair, and installation of plumbing systems in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 2% growth in employment for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters from 2021 to 2031.
It's also worth considering the security of learning a trade that cannot be easily replaced or automated as we move into a future increasingly reliant on tech.