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How do I get Plumbing Training?

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  • Written By: Karyn Maier
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Most people tend to think of a plumber as someone to call in the event of a leaking faucet or when the drain in the kitchen sink gets clogged. While these are certainly some of the most common tasks for many plumbers, there is far more to this career choice than meets the eye. In fact, with plumbing training, one can become a master plumber and enjoy the rewards of one of the most lucrative careers in the entire construction industry. However, with specialized plumbing training, it’s even possible to launch a career working in the medical, computer, or environmental engineering industries, among others.

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The first step in obtaining plumbing training is to contact a representative of one of the organizations or unions that sponsor an apprenticeship program, which typically takes four to five years to finish. For example, several agencies provide this opportunity in the U.S., including the National Association of Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, and the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada. Resources in the UK include the Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering and the Joint Industries Board for Plumbing Mechanical Engineering Services in England and Wales. Complete plumbing training in an apprenticeship program usually includes pipefitting and installation, reading blueprints and specifications, mechanical drafting, safety protocols, and building regulations and codes. However, most candidates usually continue to receive plumbing training on-the-job after successfully completing an apprenticeship.

Generally speaking, there are no national certification programs or requirements in place in the U.S. or most of Europe. However, UK’s Joint Industries Board for Plumbing Mechanical Engineering Services in England and Wales does issue what’s known as Registration Scheme Card, which applies to residents of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In the U.S., on the other hand, exams and certifications are usually administered on a localized level, depending on where the future plumber lives or plans to work.

Once training has been completed and a sufficient amount of work experienced gained, many plumbing professionals decide to specialize in a related field. For example, pipefitters are needed to install and maintain commercial central heating and air conditioning systems, or pressure pumps used in hydroelectric power plants. Steamfitters work on similar high-pressure systems that carry steam or gas rather than water. Pipelayers install underground pipes used to transport water, sewer, or gas.

How does plumbing training and specialization translate to a career in the medical, computer, or environmental engineering industries? The answer is that pressure pipes, steam pipes, and cooling systems designed to control internal environments are used in facilities that produce pharmaceuticals, manufacture computer chips, and treat wastewater and sewage. Of course, many plumbers are satisfied with the residential installation of showers and tubs, as well as the occasional challenge of a backed-up kitchen sink.

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