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How to Become a Plumber

Plumbers are responsible for the installation and repair of pipes that carry water, air or other gases or liquids to, in and out of businesses, factories and homes. There are different specialties within plumbing. Pipefitting and steam fitting are two examples of plumbing specialties.

Plumbers install and repair all water lines, for example; water supply to businesses or buildings. Smaller lines, ones that supply water to refrigerators in residence are also done by plumbers. Plumbers are also responsible for the installation of plumbing fixtures – that includes bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets. Appliances such as dishwashers, garbage disposals, and water heaters are also installed by plumbers. Clogged or damage pipes will also need a plumbers handy work. Septic systems are also plumbing systems that plumbers have to work with. It is common in more rural areas that do not have large municipal sewage systems.

Typical Plumbing Duties:

Plumbers typically do the following:

  • Installation of pipes and fixtures
  • Reading of blueprints while following state and local building codes
  • Determination of the amount of material and equipment is needed for job
  • Inspection and testing of installed pipe systems and pipelines
  • Troubleshooting and repairing of systems that are not functioning properly
  • Replace all worn plumbing parts


Pipefitters are responsible for the installation and maintenance of all pipes that carry any chemicals, acids or gases. These piping systems are usually used in manufacturing, commercial, and industrial settings. They are also responsible for installing and repairing any pipe systems in power plants, as well as the heating and cooling systems in most large office buildings. Other pipefitting specialties are:


Gasfitters provide piping that provides clean oxygen to patients in hospitals.


Sprinklerfitters installs and repairs all fire sprinkler systems in businesses, factories, and homes.


Steamfitters install high-pressure steam pipe systems. Steamfitters commonly work at natural gas power plants where electricity and high heat is generated. Others will work in factories that commonly use high-temperature high-pressure steam pipe systems.

How to Become a Plumber

Most plumbers learn the trade in 4 or 5 year apprenticeship programs. In each year of the program, plumbing apprentices must continue to have at least 1,700 hours of paid on-the-job training and a minimum of 246 hours of related technical education. Aspiring plumbers will study math, applied physics, and chemistry. Apprentices will also learn local plumbing codes, safety and regulations, and blueprint reading. They will eventually become familiar with all types of piping systems and plumbing duties. Upon completion of an apprenticeship program, plumbers are considered to be journeymen, which will qualify the plumber to perform duties on their own accord.

Plumbing apprenticeship programs are most often offered by trade unions and businesses. It is also common for workers to enter apprenticeships directly, starting out as helpers. To be eligible to enter a plumbing apprenticeship program, one must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Have a H.S. diploma or equivalent
  • Pass a basic math skills test
  • Pass a drug screen
  • Know the basics on how to use computers

Plumbing Salary and Job Outlook

According to, in 2010, the median annual wage of plumbing in California was $57,350. Nationally it was $46,660. The employment of electricians is projected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2020.

Plumbing Schools and Training Programs in California

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