What qualifications do you need to become a plumber?

Updated April 17, 2017

Years ago, becoming a plumber meant having an established reputation in your neighbourhood or city for doing good work, learnt primarily through apprenticeships and hands-on experience. Today, becoming a plumber involves gaining a formal education through a certified programme in addition to firsthand experience gleaned though apprenticeships in the various types of plumbing.

Certification and Degrees

Depending on where you live, you may need to earn licensure to practice plumbing in your area. Before licensing happens, you'll need to attain a high school diploma or GED. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics article "Plumbers, Pipelayers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters," plumbers should begin formal training in an apprenticeship along with enrolling in a community college or vocational school that offers certification or degrees in plumbing. Licensing comes from prior experience or the completion of a degree programme.


Perhaps the most time-honoured and helpful training method that plumbers have access to is the apprenticeship system, in which skilled and experienced plumbers take novice plumbers under their wing to show them the tricks of the trade. According to the article "Apprenticeship," the United Association of Plumbers, Fitters, Welders, and HVAC Services Techs states that a completed apprenticeship takes around five years, is paid, and allows the entrance into the union.

Personality and Physical Traits

In addition to the education and hands-on experience, if you're interested in becoming a plumber you should also be willing and able to get dirty, work in bad weather conditions, work in potentially hazardous conditions and spend long hours in cramped spaces. Plumbers who work for contractors who handle city or town maitenance, or work in large industrial complexes, should be aware that more often than not, they can be exposed to hazardous chemicals and other dangerous materials. However, not all plumbing environments are so unpleasant, but it is a reality you should be prepared for.

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About the Author

Ashley 'Ash' Brooks is a writer living in the Midwest. She has worked in the writing industry for over five years as a writer, editor and teacher. Brooks enjoys writing about animals (preferably cats), mental health, spirituality and computers. She has been published on Brooks has a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and a Master' of Arts in composition and rhetoric,