Career Growth in Plumbing: The Steps to Becoming a Licensed Professional

how to become a plumber

Plumbers are vital cogs in the construction machine whose skills and work are irreplaceable. Similar to other trade careers, plumbers will always be in demand due to these skills. There’s a fairly diverse range of roles and careers plumbers can take on, making it an attractive and steady field to work in.

Ultimately, plumbers repair or install piping for water, gas, or any other system in a building; this includes removing obstructions and installing proper fixtures. This guide will break down the step-by-step process of starting a plumbing career to potential business ownership.

The Benefits of a Career in Plumbing

As previously mentioned, plumbers are always in demand. This provides job security, growth potential, and competitive earnings. Growth opportunity includes ownership, making it worthwhile for all career aspirations. Schooling takes much less time and costs far less than other careers like physicians or lawyers.

Career Growth in the Plumbing Industry

Career growth is plentiful in the plumbing industry depending on the types of licenses and training obtained. Typically, plumbers start as apprentices or journeymen but can often see management and supervisor roles once enough experience is obtained. From there, plumbers can even own a business if desired, overseeing all aspects of the plumbing business.

Starting a Plumbing Career

A great first step to starting any career is to know your goals, such as simple employment or future business ownership. Your career path will change slightly depending on these goals, such as obtaining a plumbing master license if you want to be a leader in the plumbing industry depending on your location.


To become a plumber, you’ll typically need your high school degree or GED as a start; ideal foundations include math, science, and computer skills. Trade school is a great way to earn approved training skills and hours. On average, a trade school for pre-apprenticeship plumbing will take around two years. There are some four-year plumbing programs, however. The length of time depends on the class and school.


Apprenticeships can occur in addition to trade school training or replacement of, but they will typically take two to five years to complete. This is where you receive hands-on training, including important building codes and tools of the trade. You will train under an experienced, licensed plumber. These apprenticeships count as certified pre-licensing training hours in many states.

Journeyman License

The next step in a plumbing career journey is obtaining your first basic plumbing license, which covers basic residential and commercial jobs. The basic journeyman license is the first step in many locations to becoming licensed, but many states have different licensing types and requirements. Therefore, the journeyman license can have different titles depending on location. For example, it is called a Plumbing Class II Contractor in North Carolina, but in Texas, it is referred to as a Journeyman License.

The average journeyman plumbing license usually requires certified training hours or pre-licensing courses and passing an exam, but specific requirements vary from state to state. Pre-licensing courses are a smart way to ensure you have all the training and preparation needed to pass the exam.

Master License

The master license is the next step to advancing your plumbing career. Obtaining this license opens up the size and type of jobs you can complete under your belt. You’ll also be able to obtain management positions far easier.

Similar to the journeyman license, the titles of these licenses vary but typically cover similar conditions. It’s recommended to obtain some pre-license courses to prepare for this licensing exam. You’ll need to know the specific license you’re looking for to find local courses in your area. For example, you’ll need to look for a master plumber prep course in Texas or a Plumbing Class I training course in North Carolina. These classes help you prepare for the exam and licensing procedure with ease.

Plumbing Management

With a master contractor license under your belt, you’ll then be able to climb the plumbing career ladder higher by landing management and supervisor positions. The types of management roles can be diverse from office sales to supervisors in the field, giving you more flexibility in your career. You’ll also likely be taking in more pay with management positions. In that way, the extra licensing pays for itself over time.

Business Owner

Many plumbers who have obtained master licensing and management positions move on to owning a business. Starting a plumbing business has many rewards, such as choosing your clients, hours, and employees. There are also many challenges, as you’ll be in charge of marketing success, client outreach, safety, and more. With proper training and licensing, however, you’ll have high expertise to handle issues, and there will be no limit to the types of clients or jobs you can take.


Plumbing is a very important trade that will never be in low demand. There are many types of positions and careers within this field, including management and business ownership. However, leaders in the field must be properly trained and licensed to take on any type of plumbing job, so a plumbing master license is often key to career growth. Careers must start with proper schooling and training on the job, but cost and time are paid back with valuable experience in the field.

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