Get a Plumbing Apprenticeship in Rhode Island Today!

March 26, 2022

Plumbers are highly valued tradespeople. They inspect, fix, and design pipe systems and install appliances. Most individuals begin their career with a plumbing apprenticeship and work their way up to master plumber status. Plumbers are also some of the highest-paid professionals in trade jobs, earning a median wage of $56,330 per year or $27.08 an hour.

Considered one of the top cities for the trade, Rhode Island employs around 1300 plumbing professionals each year, offering an annual mean wage of $60,520. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are about 51,000 openings each year for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters expected over the next decade.

In this blog, we’ll discuss plumbing apprenticeship requirements in Rhode Island, how to secure a license and things to consider before starting your own business.

The Trade School Advantage

Courses at plumbing trade schools prepare you for a specific job. Though not required, completing educational programs or a college degree can increase your odds of landing an apprenticeship.

Along with extra fieldwork, trade school programs provide students with classroom and electronic learning opportunities to develop broad skill sets. Before you begin the application process, be sure to learn the difference between a pipefitter and a plumber.

Trade school programs are also shorter, allowing you to earn a certificate or an associate’s degree in just two years. You will walk away prepared for entry-level positions as well as higher education opportunities.

If you complete an associate’s degree program, you will meet the hourly licensing completion requirements, meaning you’ll be eligible to begin work in the field. After completing trade school, students can start working as apprentices under the supervision of master plumbers to gain experience and earn money.


Earn your degree in Plumbing & Heating from NEIT and begin your new career path today!


Why Is a Plumbing Apprenticeship Important?

Apprenticeships take you a step further towards becoming a professional plumber. After completing your education, most students apply for an apprenticeship under a professional plumber. Some companies run apprentice programs that provide training specific to the company’s project requirements.

During this program, the students gain knowledge and hands-on skills with a master plumber, leading to better growth prospects, better pay, and licensure.

Difference Between Journeyman Plumber and Master Plumber

Journeyman Plumber and Master Plumber

A journeyman is someone who has completed four to five years as a plumbing apprentice. This is the minimum requirement to be able to work alone. A journeyman cannot train apprentices, but a master plumber can. These individuals have between two and 10 years of experience.

Career Progression of an Apprentice Plumber

Plumbing Career Progression of an Apprentice Plumber

Here is the most common career path for apprentices:

  • Apprenticeship – After completing a trade school education, students can pursue apprenticeships. There, they will spend four to five years acquiring the necessary hands-on training from an instructor before becoming eligible for the journeyman license test.
  • License – The license requirements vary as per the state. Once you pass the examination, you will have the license to work independently as a journeyman plumber.
  • Work experience and further education (if required) – Different states have their requirements for license renewal. Some states require additional education, and others consider your experience. In Rhode Island, you are eligible to take the master plumber exam only if you are a trained professional and have held a journeyman license for more than five years.
  • Master plumber – As a master plumber, you can take on projects that require greater responsibility. This includes supervisory roles and planning and design of plumbing systems. You need to have a minimum of two years job experience as a journeyman plumber followed by an exam for a master plumber license.

The graph below shows the growth in salary for a plumbing apprentice:

Salary progression

Plumbing Education Programs and Benefits

A year-long certificate program can help you learn how to install and fix plumbing systems. In contrast, an associate’s degree will put you on the path to work in closely related fields, teaching you pipefitting, electrical theory, basic heating, pump system planning, and design.

The added coursework will enable you to reach advanced careers in pipefitting and plumbing in the allied fields of heating and gas technology.

  • An online plumbing training program can cost anywhere between $800 to $1,000.
  • A certificate course in plumbing costs approximately $1,250 to $3,000.
  • An associate’s degree in plumbing technology amounts to about $3,000 to $23,000.
  • Apprenticeship programs in plumbing last 4-5 years and cost $0 to $1,000.

If you choose to get a certificate through the American Society of Plumbing Engineers, you’ll need to pay anywhere from $300 to $625, depending on membership and prior training. Additional costs apply to books, uniforms, tools, and living costs.

How to Get a Plumbing Apprenticeship in Rhode Island

Master plumber teaching an apprentice

To become an apprentice in Rhode Island, interested individuals must apply directly to the sponsor or company they want to work for. You should create a strong resume and explore apprenticeship listings. Other options include:

  • Personal recommendation – As a student in a trade school, you can establish strong relationships with industry professionals and get a direct recommendation based on your performance. You may get an apprenticeship with a master plumber you already know.
  • Plumbing Unions – Unions remain a popular source for apprenticeships. To join, you may need to undergo an aptitude test and follow the full schedule of a journeyman.
  • Plumbing companies – Visit established plumbing companies that hire and run their programs. This space is highly competitive, but you can stand out if you have a trade school degree and a letter of recommendation.

The Department of Labor and Training of Rhode Island offers complete information on registering for and becoming an apprentice. This includes many professions, including plumbing and associated trades.

Apprenticeship Rhode Island, a part of the American Apprenticeship Initiative, connects potential employers to apprenticeship seekers.

What Do You Need to Start as a Plumbing Apprentice?

The basic requirement is to have a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED). Having a trade school degree increases your chances of getting into an apprenticeship program.

You need to be at least 18-years old, have a social security card, and a valid driver’s license with a good driving record. You also need to prove your physical ability to perform plumbing tasks. Applicants undergo a drug test and a background check. An equal opportunity employer will welcome regardless of race, color, or national origin.

Other non-technical skills required are:

  • Good communication
  • Ability to take the initiative
  • Eye for detail
  • Team worker
  • Customer service skills

How to Get a Plumbing License

Getting a plumbing license

Students can get the Rhode island plumbing license in three categories:

  • Apprentice plumbing license
  • Journeyman plumbing license
  • Master plumbing license
To get these licenses, you need to approach the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) Plumbers and Irrigators division and complete the exam based on the BOCA International Plumbing Code 2006 and State Building Code SBC-3 State Plumbing code effective July 1, 2013.

What To Expect in the Plumbing License Exam

The plumbing licensing exam has 50 multiple choice questions based on:

  • Joints and connections
  • Traps and cleanouts
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Hangers and supports
  • Sanitary drainage systems
  • Vents and venting systems
  • Storm drains
  • Inspecting and testing
  • Cross-connections
  • Indirect waste piping
  • Materials and their standards
  • Terminology and calculations
  • International fuel gas code
  • Isometrics
  • Private sewage systems
  • Fixtures and faucets
  • Non-potable water systems

All licenses are valid for two years and cost $75. Before they expire, you have to renew at the DLT by paying $240 for a master plumber and $72 for a journeyman plumber. Apprentice plumbers don’t have any application or renewal fees.

How to Start Your Own Plumbing Business

Many master plumbers end up opening their own plumbing business. Like other careers, you need to choose the business type and study the online literature on opening a business in Rhode Island. You will also need to check the taxes applicable on plumbing business at the Rhode Island Division of Taxation.


Plumbing remains a lucrative career for students. The New England Institute of Technology provides short and focused courses with the necessary guidance to help you start your career as a plumber.

A trade school education provides access to contacts that can help you achieve the apprenticeship of your choice. You will eventually graduate to the status of master plumber and enjoy the option of opening up your own business. Doing so will give you more control over your hours, clients, and wages.


Earn your degree in Plumbing & Heating from NEIT and begin your new career path today!



What Are the Responsibilities of an Apprentice Plumber?

Apprentice plumbers assist master plumbers. Their responsibilities include:

  • Pipe repairs
  • Electrical equipment installation
  • Unclogging plumbing lines
  • New plumbing installation

Where Do Apprentice Plumbers Work?

Apprentice plumbers work at private homes, commercial buildings, construction sites, main water supplies, sewage drains, and other remote locations.