From Plumbing Apprentice Padawan to Master
Every plumbing apprentice is required to complete four years of schooling through a technical college. These classes are designed to explain and enhance the things you’re learning on the job. Don’t worry, it could be worse! If you were a newly selected Apprentice from a Jedi Knight or Master you could be in one-on-one training for up to 10 years before you could take on the Trials!
Within those required classroom hours you must also complete up to 2,000 actual field hours. Most plumbing companies will pay, or “sponsor” their new apprentice to take these four years of schooling during their time with the company, so you can work and learn at the same time! Apprentice plumbers typically make between $31k and $45k a year. In the field, you will learn the things necessary to pass the Journeyman exam and be “ready for the trials” like every up and coming Jedi Knight.
At the end of the four years of schooling and training the plumbing apprentice must pass a test that allows them to pass onto the Journeyman level.
Here are a few things you can expect on that test:
- Reading Comprehension & Communication – this is to test your aptitude for communication and basic reading. Plumbers are required to read a lot of contracts and job descriptions.
- General Mathematics – you will need to be able to understand the following basic math principles in order to create and read blueprints, determine measurements, and more.
- Basic Plumbing Practices – this section is to test things like simple plumbing repairs, measuring or cutting piping and other equipment, and identifying plumbing parts.
Succeeding in Your Apprenticeship
While you are studying and working as an apprentice, you will be expected to work with a team of experienced plumbers. You will accompany other plumbers on their jobs and learn from them. Any work you do will be supervised by a Journeyman or Master Plumber. Once you pass the trials—err exam—you’ll be ready to cut that apprentice braid and strike out on your own!
The Journeyman Years
A Journeyman plumber is someone who has passed the state exam and now holds a Journeyman license. That means that they are now licensed to work without a supervisor, and can run their own truck.
The plumbing company that you’ve been working with for the last four years will assist you with this step. Each apprentice plumber has to complete a certain number of hours on the job and the state requires proof that they have been done. Your plumbing company will send your logged hours in and then they will let you know that you’ve both passed your exam and completed your hours.
Succeeding as a Journeyman
As a Journeyman Plumber, you will be required on occasion to supervise an apprentice, just as a Journeyman supervised you during your apprenticeship.
Prepare for this by learning from your fellow Journeymen, and following these tips when training:
- Be patient.
- Be informative, but not overwhelming.
- Allow an apprentice to learn, so don’t take over.
- Reward your apprentice but don’t coddle them.
- Don’t teach anything your manager doesn’t want you to.
Many Journeyman plumbers choose to stay at this level because they are typically making between $56k and $72k a year, and enjoy the amount of work and experience they have in their field. As a Journeyman Plumber, you will still have all the benefits of a Master without additional schooling. Those who choose to become business owners often deal with more stress and long hours.
Becoming a Master
Master plumbers are the highest tier in the plumbing journey. They are the men and women who are most likely to be interested in owning and operating their own team of plumbing contractors. The salary of a Master plumber is largely dependent on how successful they are as a plumber personally and how well their business is doing.
If you want to become a Master plumber, you will need to take extra schooling. In addition to the schooling you took as an apprentice—and your now eight years of on-the-job experience, you will want to take several business classes through a technical college.
These will again be sponsored by the plumbing company you work for. These are designed to teach you how to manage a company and a team. You must pass another test as well before moving onto the Master level.
At Shamrock plumbing, we know how to help you advance in your career, from very little experience:
to an old wizened learner:
If you are interested in becoming a plumber at any level through Shamrock Plumbing, check out our careers page!