An apprenticeship is the most common pathway to becoming a plumber. Many unions and businesses mandate that an apprentice receive a minimum of 246 hours of technical education, which could include instruction in math, applied physics and chemistry, and up to 2,000 hours of paid, practical training working with an experienced plumber. Safety training is also an important component of the process, since injuries are common in this line of work. "We have many hours worth of [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] training before we go on to a job site," says Patrick Kellett, the administrative assistant to the general president for the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia. "We're very conscious of the dangers that come with working in construction."
Apprentice plumber: Apprenticeship programs generally provide the most comprehensive training for novice plumbers. Either union locals and their affiliated companies or nonunion contractor organizations can administer this training. Apprenticeships typically consist of at least three to four years of paid, on-the-job training and some hours of related classroom instruction.
General employment within the construction sector is sensitive to changes in the economy. But job growth for plumbers is projected to be faster than the average for all jobs. New buildings and residences are being built to comply with stricter water efficiency standards and companies housed in older structures are hoping to retrofit to use more energy-efficient systems, so opportunities are in abundance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there should be a hiring spurt of 16 percent for plumbers by the year 2026, which translates to about 75,800 new jobs.