Find a Plumbing School Near You | Training & Career Info

Attending a plumbing school can set you up for a career in one of the most attractive sectors of the skilled trades industry. Trade schools offer streamlined training that is convenient and relatively quick. Plus, vocational training often counts toward the length of your apprenticeship. Plumbers generally benefit from good pay, varied work, and potential for advancement.

Education & Training

The primary route into this vocation involves an apprenticeship. However, a plumber school program can help people like you gain essential skills that provide a competitive edge when applying for apprentice positions.

Length of Training

It generally takes between four and 24 months to complete a pre-apprenticeship plumbing program at a vocational school. Plumbing apprenticeships typically last for four or five years in total.* In some cases, credits earned from previous trade school programs can be applied toward an apprenticeship, which shortens it.

Most Common Length of School*
(range in months)

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Program Options

You can take a plumbing program at a trade school or vocational college, complete an apprenticeship, or pursue a combination of those two options. How long it takes to get certified in plumbing depends on the program you choose.

Certificate or diploma programs: These typically take no more than a year to complete.* They are designed to help students learn basic plumbing concepts and skills.

Associate degree programs: These can last up to two years.* They tend to include the same kinds of courses as certificate or diploma programs and also incorporate more general education courses like math and science.

Plumbing apprenticeship programs: Most plumbers learn the trade this way, typically taking four or five years.* Some go straight into a program while others complete a certificate, diploma, or degree first. Apprentices undergo classroom lessons as well as on-the-job training, for which they receive a wage.

Most apprenticeships are managed by unions or other industry associations, such as:

  • The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)
  • The United Association (UA)

You can also search for registered apprenticeships through the U.S. Department of Labor.

Find a Plumbing School Near You

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Typical Courses

Plumbing schools tend to provide training in areas like:

  • Blueprint reading
  • Pipe system design
  • Water supply systems
  • Gas piping systems
  • Drainage systems
  • Installing and repairing pipes, fittings, and valves
  • Brazing and soldering techniques
  • Backflow principles
  • Plumbing codes
  • Safety protocols

Skills You Can Learn at a Plumber School

 At a plumbing trade school, you could begin learning how to:

  • Interpret blueprints
  • Calculate plumbing measurements
  • Design and install piping systems in different settings
  • Install, troubleshoot, and service various plumbing fixtures and appliances
  • Use tools like plungers, pliers, pipe wrenches, and soldering torches
  • Perform work according to relevant codes
  • Follow established safety practices
  • Estimate plumbing jobs

Licensing & Certification

In most states, you must obtain a license before you can officially work as a professional plumber or, in some instances, even before you can formally start an apprenticeship. In some cases, licensing is done at the city or county level. So it’s important to find out what regulations apply in your area.

There tend to be different licenses, such as apprentice/trainee, journeyman, and master.

Licensing requirements vary by locality and level. However, you will typically have to:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Have a clean criminal record (no felony convictions)
  • Apply and pay a fee
  • Pass an exam

Some states require special licenses or certifications, depending on the type of work you hope to perform. For instance, you may need to get a medical gas piping license or endorsement to work on the systems that carry gases like oxygen and nitrous oxide in healthcare facilities. And many states have special requirements for plumbers who work with propane or natural gas systems.

Use CareerOneStop’s license finder to check the requirements in your state.

Education & Training FAQs

Do plumbers need to know a lot of math?

 Plumbers typically deal with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. They must also be comfortable converting decimals to fractions.

They may need to calculate things like the volume of a water tank, the water pressure at different depths, or larger pipes’ capacity versus smaller pipes. But in most cases, that means plugging numbers into a formula. Once you do that a few times, it becomes relatively automatic.

If I become a licensed plumber in one state, will my credentials be recognized in another state?

Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow licensed plumbers from certain other jurisdictions to practice the trade in that area without obtaining a new license. You can check for such agreements through the National Center for Construction Education & Research.

Is plumbing hard to learn?

Plumbing can be straighforward to learn if you focus on keeping up with your coursework and have decent memorization skills. It’s important to remember, though, that much of the trade is learned and practiced during your apprenticeship. Plumber trade school provides the groundwork of knowledge to help you succeed as an apprentice (plus your program credits may count toward your apprenticeship). And an apprenticeship provides the skills needed to succeed as a journeyman and, eventually, a master plumber.