The Complete Plumbing Trade School and Training Guide

September 28, 2021

Plumbing is more than just unclogging drains and repairing pipes; it is a vital component of modern society, ensuring we have access to clean water and efficient waste removal. To become a skilled plumber, however, one must first navigate the complex network of pipes, valves, and systems that underpin our daily lives. This journey begins with a solid foundation in plumbing education, which is the foundation of a successful career in the field.

Plumbing trade schools help you succeed as plumbers in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. As an aspiring plumber, you’ll need trade-specific skills, training, licenses, and certifications to succeed in this field.

From gaining essential knowledge of building codes and regulations to learning the latest techniques and technologies, a plumbing education equips you with the tools you need to thrive in this challenging industry.

Navigating the world of plumbing education can be overwhelming, with various training options, certifications, and career paths to choose from. This is where our guide steps in to provide clarity and guidance.

Throughout the coming sections, we will explore plumbing education options, certifications and apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and career opportunities.

Whether you’re a plumbing enthusiast taking your first steps or a seasoned professional seeking to advance your knowledge, “The Complete Plumbing Trade School and Training Guide” is here to guide you on your journey toward a rewarding and fulfilling plumbing career.

Is Plumbing Right for You?

Are you contemplating a career change and considering whether plumbing might be the perfect fit for you? Plumbing is a versatile and in-demand profession that offers countless opportunities for growth and success.

On average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers, steamfitters, and pipefitters make $60,090 per year.

What Makes a Good Fit for a Plumbing Career?

Plumbing isn’t just about wrenches and pipes; it’s a profession that demands a unique set of qualities and interests. Here are a few characteristics that can indicate whether plumbing is right for you:

  • Problem-Solving Skills: Plumbers often find themselves tackling complex issues, from diagnosing leaks to troubleshooting drainage problems. If you enjoy problem-solving and thinking on your feet, plumbing could be an excellent choice.
  • Physical Fitness: Plumbing work is physically demanding. You’ll be on your feet, lifting heavy equipment and working in tight spaces. Good physical fitness is essential to thrive in this field.
  • Attention to Detail: Precision matters in plumbing. A small error can lead to significant consequences. If you’re detail-oriented and take pride in your work, plumbing aligns well with your nature.
  • Interest in Technology: Modern plumbing involves advanced technologies, from pipe inspection cameras to digital water heaters. If you’re tech-savvy and enjoy working with tools and gadgets, you’ll find the evolving plumbing field intriguing.
  • Strong Work Ethic: Plumbing often involves long hours and emergencies that require immediate attention. Those with a strong work ethic and a commitment to customer satisfaction tend to excel in this field.

Basic Requirements and Skills Needed to Begin Plumbing Training

Here are some of the essential requirements for your plumbing training journey:

  • Education: A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to begin plumbing training. Strong performance in math and science can be an advantage.
  • Physical Fitness: As mentioned earlier, good physical health and fitness are crucial for the demands of the job.
  • Apprenticeship: Many aspiring plumbers start their journey as apprentices, working alongside experienced professionals to gain hands-on experience. This on-the-job training is invaluable.
  • Technical Skills: Familiarize yourself with basic hand tools and their uses. Proficiency in using them will be essential as you progress through your training.
  • Safety Knowledge: Plumbing can involve potentially hazardous situations. Understanding safety protocols and practices is non-negotiable.

Tips for Researching and Choosing the Best Trade School

If you’ve determined that plumbing is the right path for you, the next step is to find a suitable trade school for your training. Here are some tips to guide you in the selection process:

  • Accreditation: Ensure that the trade school is accredited and recognized by relevant industry associations or licensing bodies. A good-quality associate degree that revolves around practical and theoretical knowledge will help you excel as a professional plumber.
  • Curriculum: Review the school’s curriculum to ensure it covers the essential plumbing skills and knowledge you need.
  • Faculty and Facilities: Investigate the qualifications and experience of the instructors. Tour the school’s facilities to assess their adequacy for hands-on training.
  • Cost and Financial Aid: Consider your budget and explore financial aid options or scholarships to make your education more affordable.
  • Career Services: Look for schools that offer job placement assistance or apprenticeship opportunities to kickstart your plumbing career.

How to Become a Plumber

Plumbing is a practical-intensive industry that requires professionals to receive formal training. Most plumbers start their journey as an apprentice. Although it is not mandatory, a college degree or a training program can help you stand out from other applicants and make landing an apprenticeship easier.

From repair and maintenance of sinks, toilets, tubs, and fixtures in residential settings to handling water pipelines, HVAC systems, waste management sites, and gas lines, plumbers manage a wide range of professional tasks.

As a plumber, you can work in specialized plumbing companies, work independently, or even start your own business.

Steps to Becoming a Professional Plumber

Now that you’ve identified some of the qualities and interests that make you a good fit for plumbing, let’s explore the fundamental prerequisites and skills needed to start your plumbing training journey.

Get Your High School Diploma/GED

A high school diploma or GED helps you apply for formal education programs. Pursuing your high-school certification also allows you to brush up on your knowledge of math, technical drawing, and thermodynamics.

A solid technical background is essential for the trade since you’ll have to read blueprints, make technical and financial calculations, and create an effective repair and maintenance plan.

Pursue an Apprenticeship Program

Plumbing apprentices gain exposure to various concepts through on-the-job training. While applying for apprenticeships, make sure the program is associated with a company registered with the U.S. Department of Labor.

You’ll learn about different plumbing pipes, OSHA safety guidelines, codes and standards, and plumbing system design as a part of your apprenticeship program.

Start as a Journeyman Plumber

After passing the licensing exam, you can obtain your journeyman license. Unlike an apprentice who has to work under a master plumber, a licensed journeyman can work independently across commercial and residential settings.

You might have to renew your license yearly or every 3 to 5 years, depending on your state’s requirements. After spending a certain amount of time on the job as a journeyman, you can apply for the master plumber licensing exam.

Become a Master Plumber

The final step in this career path will often involve achieving master plumber status. The prerequisites for master plumbers vary according to the local laws. Some states require additional courses or training.

With your master plumber license, you can pursue the highest-paying jobs in the plumbing industry. You can work as a contractor, offer advanced services, oversee apprenticeship training, and even take up managerial roles. Check out these tips for more information on how you can become a professional plumber.

Get your associate’s degree in plumbing and heating technology from the New England Institute of Technology today!

The Top Plumbing Trade Schools in Rhode Island

Here are the top plumbing trade schools in Rhode Island:

New England Institute of Technology: This school is the most popular in Rhode Island for plumbing and water supply students. Located on Post Road, Warwick, RI, this campus of the New England Institute of Technology offers an associate degree in plumbing and heating technology.

The program is designed to teach students the introductory theory and practices of heating and plumbing. Students receive hands-on experience in the laboratory and the opportunity to share classes and collaborate with their peers in architecture, construction management, welding, and other allied professional trades.

The program is structured to teach students everything they need to know to become successful plumbers. The curriculum covers a wide range of topics, such as plumbing codes, safety practices, blueprint reading, and more.

Providence Career & Technical Academy: Providence Career & Technical Academy in Rhode Island offers a plumbing program that prepares students for continuing education and careers in the plumbing industry. The Plumbing/HVAC-R/Sheet Metal department at Providence Career and Technical Academy provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to progress through the four-year apprenticeship and help prepare students to pass the state licensing examination. It is located in Warwick, RI.

Plumbing Career Opportunities

Plumbing is a skilled trade that offers a wide range of career opportunities. Here’s some information on plumbing career paths, the job market for plumbers, and potential income levels based on experience and specialization:

Career Paths for Certified Plumbers

Certified plumbers can pursue various career paths, including:

  • Residential Plumbers: These plumbers work in homes and residential buildings, installing and repairing plumbing systems such as pipes, fixtures, and appliances.
  • Commercial Plumbers: Commercial plumbers focus on plumbing systems in commercial and industrial buildings. Their work may involve larger-scale projects and more complex systems.
  • Service and Repair Plumbers: These plumbers specialize in diagnosing and fixing plumbing issues, often working for plumbing service companies.
  • Construction Plumbers: Construction plumbers install plumbing systems in new construction projects, including homes, office buildings, and factories.
  • Pipefitters: Pipefitters work with high-pressure piping systems in industrial settings, including power plants and factories.
  • Green Plumbers: Green plumbers focus on environmentally friendly plumbing solutions, including water-saving fixtures, energy-efficient heating systems, and rainwater harvesting.

Job Market for Plumbers

The job market for plumbers varies by location and economic conditions. Generally, the demand for plumbers remains steady, as plumbing services are essential for both residential and commercial properties. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Job Stability: Plumbing is a recession-resistant field because plumbing services are necessary for maintaining and upgrading infrastructure.
  • Geographic Variation: The job market can vary by region. Areas with a growing population and construction industry tend to have more opportunities for plumbers.
  • Aging Workforce: Many experienced plumbers are nearing retirement, creating opportunities for younger plumbers to enter the field.
  • Advancements in Technology: Plumbers who stay current with the latest plumbing technologies and trends may have a competitive edge in the job market.

Income Levels for Plumbers

The income of plumbers can vary based on factors like experience, location, specialization, and the type of employer. Here are some income ranges:

  • Apprentices: Entry-level apprentices often earn a lower wage while they learn the trade. Pay increases as they gain experience and complete their apprenticeship.
  • Journeyman Plumbers: After completing an apprenticeship, plumbers become journeyman plumbers and typically earn higher wages.
  • Master Plumbers: Master plumbers, who have more experience and may have a state license, often earn the highest wages in the field.
  • Specializations: Plumbers who specialize in areas like pipefitting or green plumbing may earn higher salaries due to their expertise.
  • Location: Income can vary significantly by region. Plumbers in areas with a high cost of living may command higher wages.

How Does Enrolling in a Trade School Help With an Apprenticeship?

Trade schools and community colleges offer degrees and training options in skilled trades, including plumbing. While traditional apprenticeships require students to work on field jobs, trade school programs provide students and classroom courses with hands-on learning opportunities to communicate fundamental knowledge and skills.

Federal Financial Aid to help fund their education.

Trade school programs are also quicker and allow you to obtain a certificate or an associate’s degree in about two years. A formal program can prepare you for jobs in the industry or higher education opportunities.

If you enroll in a formal associate’s degree at a college, you’ll have fulfilled the hourly requirements for licensing, meaning you’ll be able to enter the industry immediately.

What are the Benefits of Registering at a Plumbing Trade School?

Registering for a plumbing certification or degree can be plenty beneficial. Not only does plumbing offer high-paying jobs, but it also delivers the flexibility to work at your own pace and even start your own business.

Some schools also offer online plumbing courses and part-time training programs that give you the flexibility and convenience to get an education while honoring existing responsibilities.


Plumbing remains a promising career option for students. The journey to becoming a skilled plumber begins with the right education and training. A comprehensive plumbing trade school and training program is your gateway to a rewarding career in a field that’s in constant demand.

Plumbing trade schools are more affordable, offer shorter courses, and allow you to start earning immediately. The skills, hands-on experience, and training you receive at trade schools can also be applied to an apprenticeship.

If you’re considering taking this path, the New England Institute of Technology (NEIT) offers a top-notch program that equips you with the knowledge and skills needed for success in the plumbing industry.

The New England Institute of Technology’s Associate Degree in Science in Plumbing and Heating (PLB) will introduce you to the basic theory and practices of heating and plumbing.

NEIT’s commitment to providing hands-on training, experienced instructors, and a supportive learning environment makes it a fantastic choice for aspiring plumbers. With the guidance and education you’ll receive at NEIT, you can build a foundation for a thriving career in plumbing, contributing to the well-being of communities and securing a bright future for yourself.


Earn your degree in Professional Building Trades from NEIT and begin your new career path today!



How long does it take to become a plumber?

A plumbing apprenticeship program typically lasts anywhere from two to five years. After completing a fixed number of apprenticeship training hours, you can apply for the journeyman license and start working independently.

Do you need to attend a trade school to become a plumber?

Although not mandatory, trade schools provide the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to land plumbing apprenticeships and jobs.

Is being a plumber a good career?

The plumbing industry offers one of the best earning opportunities. In addition to high-paying positions, plumbing also grants you the freedom to work independently. In general, it is considered an incredibly rewarding career path.

How much does it cost to go to plumbing school?

Costs vary widely, but tuition for plumbing programs can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the school and location.