Construction of homes and businesses, both commercial and industrial, is a big job. Most people don’t build their own structures because it requires specialized knowledge in a variety of diverse, though interrelated, fields. What they do is bring in professionals. Those already in possession of homes and business buildings also need the same professionals for installation and, more commonly, for repair and replacement. The training these pros receive enables them to analyze, evaluate, and correct both common and uncommon problems.

Three of the more well-known trade professionals are the plumber, the electrician, and the HVAC technician. Each plays a vital role in not only installing the machines and appliances used every day, but the electricity that powers them. Each of these three areas overlap in some ways and the professionals who practice their specific area of expertise are familiar with what the other technicians do. This may be due to the similarities in their training and education.

While all three begin their formal training with a high school diploma or its equivalent, how long they attend classes and participate in on the job training does vary.

PLUMBER

Individuals entering the field of plumbing can expect to spend between four and five years attending school and working as an apprentice. Their on the job training consists of 2,000 hours per year and 200 hours of class time each year before they are considered qualified to take the testing required to move onto the level of journeyman plumber. Each journeyman plumber gains an additional three to five years of work experience before they can again be tested to move onto the level of master plumber.

Apprenticeships are not only common, but required. Students work under the guidance of a master plumber either through a union apprenticeship or by an individual or business owner master.

Requirements:

* High school diploma / GED
* 4-5 years classroom and on the job training
* Pass Journeyman testing
* 3-5 years additional experience
* Pass Master Plumber testing
* Obtain necessary city and state licensing

Wages:

* Average yearly wage:  $46,660
* Average hourly wage:  $22.43

Outlook:

* Job Growth Through 2020:  Projected addition of 107,600 jobs, with field experiencing 26% growth.

ELECTRICIAN

For those who want to enter the electrical field, classroom training and on the job experience are also a part of the path to master electrician. Those who begin in this field will undertake approximately 200 hours of classroom instruction each year, along with 2,000 hours of actual in field experience. Like those on the path to becoming a master plumber, master electricians have extensive responsibilities involving potentially dangerous equipment and their education and experience reflects their competency in their respective areas.

Again, apprenticeships are required. Master electricians, union or individual, involve the students in every phase of what their jobs will and can encompass.

Requirements:

* High school diploma / GED
* 4-5 years classroom and on the job training
* Pass Journeyman testing
* 3-5 years additional experience
* Pass Master Electrician testing
* Obtain necessary city and state licensing

Wages:

* Average yearly wage:  $48,250
* Average hourly wage:  $23.20

Outlook:

* Job Growth Through 2020:  Projected addition of 133,700 jobs, with field experiencing 23% growth.

HVAC TECHNICIAN

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians install, repair, and maintain the heating and cooling systems in homes and businesses. They are more commonly known as HVAC/R technicians, with the “R” standing for refrigeration, as this also falls under the scope of their training and work. As with the other two trades noted above, classroom education and work experience is how an individual interested in this field becomes licensed. Students participate in approximately 18 months of classroom instruction, along with two to five years of apprenticeship (2,000 hours per year).

Students normally apprentice under licensed HVAC technicians or through companies in this particular business. They can also perform under the auspices of a general contractor and trained personnel employed by that company.

Requirements:

* High school diploma / GED
* Minimum 18 months classroom training
* Concurrent 2-5 years on the job training
* Pass EPA Certification Test
* Obtain necessary city and state licensing

Wages:

* Average yearly wage:  $42,530
* Average hourly wage:  $20.45

Outlook:

* Job Growth Through 2020:  Projected addition of 90,300 jobs, with field experiencing 34% growth.

All three fields rely heavily on good math skills, with some of the union apprenticeship programs requiring applicants to pass a math test and have one year of algebra prior to applying. Each trade offers specialization as the student moves through the training, both on the job and in the classroom. Electricians, in particular, can move into the residential, commercial, industrial, or outside lineman specialty. Plumbers often choose between residential and commercial applications, as do HVAC technicians.

Many of the individuals who enter into these trades will start their own companies or work as a private contractor. As such, they can expect several incidents of long hours and for those who offer emergency repair services, calls at all times of the day and night. They can also generally expect a secure employment future as their skills are needed during good, and bad, economic times.

Those attain the most success will continue to hone their craft through education in their field as changes to environmental codes and new energy regulations bring the implementation of new technology into homes, businesses, and industries world-wide.

Click here to learn more about plumbers.

Start here to learn more about the electrician field.

If you are interested about exploring the responsibilities of an HVAC Tech, click here.