Few things are so necessary as water, something most people take completely for granted. From the clean water that flows from the tap to the waste-water from homes and businesses that is transformed to be used for irrigation, water means life on a very elemental level.
For the majority of people in countries with a modern infrastructure, until something goes wrong they don’t really give the water that comes into and out of their homes much thought. When something does go wrong the first person called is most likely a plumber. These highly trained professionals understand the “how”, as in how the plumbing works in a home or business, as well as the “what” of in “what happened?”
Plumbers know the answers to these questions and more because of their extensive training and education in their field. From the largest of industrial businesses to the smallest of residential homes, plumbers install (and repair) water and gas piles, waste and drainage disposal systems, appliances that use water (such as water heaters and dishwashers) and sinks, showers and bathtubs, including the pipes to and from each of these.
Being a plumber is not the easiest of jobs. They work in cramped, hard to access places a lot of the time and need to bring – and further develop – their problem-solving and mathematics skills. They also frequently put in a longer than normal work day, or even come out at odd hours of night, to handle water-related problems that need immediate attention.
Plumbers enter into their profession in one of several ways, although each way generally starts with a high school diploma or its equivalent. For someone starting out in this field, joining a plumber’s union and getting into an apprenticeship that is sponsored by that local union. This method has the advantage of on the job training while the student is also taking plumbing courses. The down side is that there are not a lot of these union apprenticeships available.
Aspiring plumbers can also find a local business run by a master plumber or one who is an independent master plumber and undertake an apprenticeship under his or her guidance. This type of hands on experience is usually combined with formal trade education in the form of classes, either at a trade school or through online education.
Because of the breadth of knowledge required to become a master plumber, those wishing to enter this field generally find that attending classes through a trade school really gives them the most comprehensive education. Being a plumber involves so much more than just replacing a washer in a dripping faucet or changing out some pipes to stop a leak and the skills offered through formal classes accelerate and enhance job experience.
Plumbing is one of many trades where working on the job is an absolute requirement. First are the hours required as an apprentice to a plumber, about 2,000 hours per year for a period of four to five years. This is along with approximately 200 hours of classroom instruction during each year of the apprenticeship. Once the student has completed the necessary classroom hours and the years of on the job training, the first of two tests is taken. Understanding and utilizing the National Standard Plumbing Code is part of the testing requirement. When the apprentice plumber passes the test, he or she is now considered a journeyman plumber.
The second phase of the training begins then as the journeyman plumber gets another three to five years of job experience to enable them to pass the test to become a master plumber. Local and state licensing will also be required along the way, depending on where the plumber intends to work. Master plumbers have gained enough experience through work to advance beyond the standard repair arena and into design and planning for small and large industrial, commercial and residential applications dependent upon their past apprenticeship.
With the growing need to conserve, forward thinking plumbers are seeking out further training and certification in technologies that emphasis green energy efficiency. Such expertise provides these professionals with additional areas within their field to expand. As green technologies advance to more common every day applications, saving and efficiently reclaiming water will become a vital and common part of this industry.
From the basics of plumbing and pipe fitting to designing a system, plumbers are taught the complexities of water as it is brought into and out of homes and businesses. Their education and training is extensive and their skills translate into safer homes and businesses.