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Plumbing School Requirements: What You Need to Get Started

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Plumbing is an essential and growing trade that offers many career opportunities. Plumbers are responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing various plumbing systems in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. Access to clean, running water and proper waste disposal will continue to be high priorities for Americans, so the demand for trained plumbing professionals will continue in tandem. So, it's a smart time to get practical training in a trade that is not easily replaced by automation. This article will guide you through the requirements and steps you need to take to enroll in a plumbing school and kickstart your career.

Types of Plumbing Programs

There are three main types of plumbing programs that you can choose from, depending on your educational background and career goals:

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs are short-term courses typically taking 6-12 months to complete. These programs are designed to provide you with basic plumbing skills and knowledge, preparing you for entry-level positions or apprenticeships in the field.

Diploma Programs

Diploma programs are more in-depth than certificate programs and usually take 1-2 years to complete. They cover a broader range of topics and offer more hands-on training, preparing you for a wider variety of plumbing roles.

Associate Degree Programs

Associate degree programs are the most comprehensive plumbing programs, typically taking two years to complete. They combine general education courses with specialized plumbing training, giving you a well-rounded education and a strong foundation for a successful career in the industry.

Key Admission Requirements for Plumbing Schools

Before enrolling in a formal plumbing program, you must meet certain admission requirements. These can vary depending on the school and program you choose, but the most common conditions include the following:


Most plumbing schools require a high school diploma or GED as a minimum education requirement. Some schools may also require you to have completed certain courses in high school, such as mathematics, physics, or shop classes.


You'll typically need to be at least 18 to enroll in a postsecondary plumbing program. However, some schools may have slightly different age requirements, so make a point to check with the specific school you're interested in attending.

Physical Fitness

Plumbing is a physically demanding profession, so many schools require you to be in good physical condition. You may need to pass a physical fitness test or provide a doctor's note confirming your ability to perform the tasks required in the plumbing profession.

Background Check

Some plumbing schools may require a criminal background check as part of the admission process. This is to ensure the safety of students and faculty and comply with industry regulations.

Required Skills for Success in Plumbing School

To excel in your plumbing training and future career, having a certain set of skills and traits is helpful. These include:

Mechanical Aptitude

Plumbers work with various tools, materials, and equipment daily. A strong mechanical aptitude will help you understand how these components work and interact with one another.

Problem-Solving Skills

Plumbing often involves troubleshooting and diagnosing complex issues. Developing strong problem-solving skills will allow you to identify and resolve problems in the field efficiently.

Communication Skills

Good communication skills are essential for plumbers, as you'll need to communicate effectively with clients, coworkers, and other professionals. This includes listening, speaking, and writing clearly and concisely.

Core Curriculum of Plumbing Schools

While the specific curriculum may vary between schools and programs, most plumbing schools cover the following core topics:

Introduction to Plumbing Tools and Materials

This course provides an overview of the common tools, materials, and equipment used in the plumbing trade. Students learn to use and maintain these items properly to ensure safe and effective work practices.

Plumbing Codes and Regulations

Plumbers must adhere to local, state, and federal plumbing codes and regulations to ensure the safety and functionality of plumbing systems. This course area covers the essential codes and regulations that govern the trade.

Pipe Installation and Repair

One of the primary tasks of a plumber is installing and repairing pipes. This course teaches students various techniques for working with different types of pipes and materials, as well as proper installation and repair methods.

Plumbing Fixtures and Appliances

This course teaches students how to install, maintain, and repair common plumbing fixtures and appliances, such as faucets, toilets, and water heaters. They also learn about various fixtures and appliances and their appropriate uses.

Practical Training and Apprenticeships

In addition to classroom instruction, most plumbing programs include hands-on training in workshops or labs. This practical training allows students to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world situations.

Many plumbing programs also require or encourage students to complete an apprenticeship after graduation. Plumber apprenticeships provide valuable on-the-job training and experience under the supervision of a licensed plumber, helping you further develop your skills and prepare for a successful career.

Obtaining a Plumbing License

Once you've completed your plumbing education and apprenticeship, most states require you to obtain licensure to start working as a journeyperson. Licensing requirements vary by state but generally include passing a written exam and demonstrating a certain amount of work experience. Some states may also require continuing education to maintain your license.

Advancement Opportunities in the Plumbing Industry

With experience and additional training, plumbers can advance their careers past the journeyperson level and become licensed as master plumbers, specializing in an area of the industry like pipefitting, pipelaying, steamfitting, sprinkler fitting, or extending their knowledge and specialization in general plumbing. Other areas for professional expansion include project management and entrepreneurship, both of which can be a smart choice for someone with good leadership skills and motivation. Some plumbers also specialize in a specific trade area, such as new construction, remodeling, or commercial plumbing.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take to become a licensed plumber?
The time it takes to become a licensed plumber varies depending on the type of program you choose and the apprenticeship duration. Generally, you can expect to spend 1-2 years in a plumbing program, followed by an apprenticeship that can last 2-5 years. After completing these requirements, you must pass a licensing exam to become a licensed plumber.
2. Is a college degree necessary to become a plumber?
A college degree is not necessary to become a plumber. Most plumbing programs require a high school diploma or GED, and then you can pursue a certificate, diploma, or associate degree in plumbing. The level of education you choose depends on your career goals and the specific program offerings of the school you select.
3. What is the average salary for a plumber?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2022, the median annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $60,090. However, how much a plumber gets paid can vary based on factors such as location, experience, and level of expertise.
4. Are there online plumbing programs available?
While some aspects of plumbing education, such as coursework on codes and regulations, can be completed online, most programs require hands-on training and practical experience. So, attending a program that includes in-person training is crucial to ensure you gain the necessary skills for success in the field.
5. What job opportunities are available after completing plumbing school?
After completing plumbing school and an apprenticeship, you can pursue a variety of job opportunities within the plumbing industry. Some common roles include residential plumber, commercial plumber, pipefitter, and service technician. With experience and further training, you can advance to positions such as master plumber, project manager, or even start your own plumbing business.

Choosing the Right Plumbing School

When selecting a plumbing school, it's important to consider factors such as its reputation, program offerings, cost, and job placement assistance. Research several schools and compare their offerings to find the best fit for your goals and needs.

Becoming a plumber is a rewarding career choice with ample opportunities for growth and success. By understanding the requirements for enrolling in a plumbing school and completing the necessary education and training, you'll be well on your way to a fulfilling career in this essential trade.