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Choosing a Career in the Plumbing Trade

For those who love working with their hands and seeing their ideas come to life, the time has never been better to join the trade and become a commercial plumber.

Check out this video on why the plumbing trade might be the right choice for you.

Skilled Trade Jobs Are in Demand 

Right now, the skilled trade industry is experiencing a labor shortage, leaving many companies without qualified workers. Now's the perfect time to consider exploring plumbing as your next career move. Unlike career paths outside of the trade, a commercial plumbing career gives you an opportunity to graduate from a skilled trade program with job security and little to no student debt.

Why Commercial Plumbing?

There are so many career paths within the commercial plumbing trade. Once you have a journeyman’s license, you can be a commercial plumbing contractor, superintendent, inspector, plumbing engineer, mechanical contractor — you can even own your own company. It’s all up to you.

You may be perfectly suited for a commercial plumbing career if you:

  • Like to work carefully and thoughtfully. Your reputation in plumbing relies on your attention to detail, especially when it comes to safety and craftsmanship.
  • Want to see tangible results from your work. In some cases, commercial plumbing professionals can walk down the street and point to buildings they’ve helped design and engineer plumbing systems for. They take pride in the fact that they are a part of something bigger than themselves — their work affects nearly everyone’s lives.
  • See yourself as a leader — or become one. Once you become a journey-level contractor, you can begin supervising a team as a foreman or project manager. After becoming a master plumber, you can explore options for starting your own business.
  • Aren’t afraid of multitasking. On a job site, you’ll be responsible for creating safe, reliable plumbing systems, which involves managing many projects at once. Though stressful at times, your job will never be dull.
  • Constantly look for ways to level up. Continuing education is a must for success in the plumbing industry. You need to stay up to date on things such as plumbing techniques, industry trends and building codes and standards. Join professional trade organizations, attend trade shows and seek out plumbing certifications to help distinguish yourself from others in your field.

The Path to a Commercial Plumbing Career 

One of the best things about entering the commercial plumbing trade is that you can earn as you learn. This means, unlike traditional educational programs, you’re likely to graduate with virtually no student debt. In fact, you’ll move through training programs with cash in your pocket, as most plumbing internships and apprenticeships are paid.

A typical path to a commercial plumbing career involves:

1. Learning the Basics
After high school or earning your GED, you can work for a local plumbing company as a laborer or attend a trade school to learn the basics of plumbing.

2. Joining an Apprenticeship
Next, join a four- or five-year commercial plumbing apprenticeship program to build on-the-job skills — and get paid doing it.

3. Becoming a Journeyman
Depending on where you’re located, you may need to take a licensing exam to become a journeyman so that you can work independently and supervise your own apprentices.

4. Moving Up in the Field
To grow in your career and specialize, you can obtain additional licenses and certifications based on your interests. Then, become a project manager, inspector, master plumber or business owner. 

Dig Deeper

In Their Own Words

Read how plumbers got their start and their advice to newcomers.

Read More

More Career Resources 

MCAA prepares students for mechanical construction and service careers.

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Trade Schools Near You 

Find out if there's a plumbing trade school program in your area.

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