How Long Does It Take to Become a Master Plumber?

How Long Does It Take to Become a Master Plumber?

The short answer to this question is "about a decade." This is the highest rank in the industry, so it makes sense that only those with some significant education and experience are going to get there and be able to command high salaries.

But there's a lot more to it. There are ways to jumpstart your career, and if master plumber is your goal, you can get there. You just need patience and perseverance.

Should I Go for It?

If you're already in plumbing, it can be easy to get comfortable where you are. A journeyman plumber does typically make a comfortable living, after all. But when you get to master plumber, you'll be able to be your own boss and have more freedom to take the work that you want to do rather than whatever comes along.

The Process

Getting Started

Your first step is to either finish high school or get your GED. With those in hand, you'll be able to get into a trade school or get started on an apprenticeship. Whether you go straight to an apprenticeship or go to school first is somewhat up to you and your experience.

If you already have some knowledge and experience with plumbing (common for people with a close relative in the industry or for people coming out of the military, for example) you might be able to jump right in. If you don't have any experience, then you'll probably want to go to a trade school. On average, it'll take two years in school to land an apprenticeship.

Pros and Cons

There are benefits to both trade school and apprenticeship. With trade school, you have more flexibility to train in the areas you're most interested in (more on that below) and may be able to advance your career more quickly once you get started. However, trade school costs money.

With an apprenticeship, you can be sure you'll be getting the lowest jobs on the ladder as you learn, and you'll be stuck working where and at whatever you're told. However, you'll also be paid, and if you get in with a bigger company, you'll get a well-rounded experience.

From Apprentice to Journeyman

The next step up from an apprentice is a journeyman, and to get there, you'll need five years of training, 246 hours of classroom training, and a certain number of apprenticeship hours. The details on this vary by state, so be sure to get in contact with your state's licensing program (or the licensing program of the state you ultimately want to work in) to make sure you have the details.

Once you're a journeyman, you don't need to be supervised every time you do work. Many plumbers are perfectly happy sticking at this level. The pay is good, and you're usually working for a company that offers some job security. But for the ambitious and self-driven, the master plumber salary is out there, calling!

Master Plumbers: What You Need

To finally get that master plumber title, you'll need a high school diploma or GED, to have finished trade school or an apprenticeship, and have your plumbing license. You'll need five to 10 years of journeyman experience, depending on your state, and you'll then need to apply for your state's master plumber's license.

Areas of Plumbing to Explore

Depending on your interests, you could choose an area of expertise. The five areas to choose from are sprinkler fitting, steam fitting, pipelining, general plumbing, and pipefitting.

Sprinkler fitting is what it sounds like: you're qualified to install and maintain fire sprinklers. If you're qualified to do steam fitting, you can install and maintain the pipes that will transport liquids or gases under high pressure. Pipelining is where you install trenches and pipes underground, like sewer lines, natural gas lines, water lines, and even oil pipelines.

General plumbing is what the average person actually thnks of when they think of a plumber: you install and maintain commercial and residential building plumbing, particularly in kitchens and bathrooms.

Finally, pipefitting is installing and maintaining the pipes for any kind of pressurized equipment, like water boiler tanks.

Master Plumber Salary and Perks

Most master plumbers have the freedom and flexibility to do anything they like, and many work on municipal and state-level projects, including getting buildings up to code and being responsible for reading blueprints and doing sketches for laying out lines. Master plumbers can work for the government, for a contractor, or be self-employed. Once you attain this status, you're a master of the craft.

Your Own Boss

The dream for many plumbers in taking this step is to be able to be their own bosses and open a business.

Here are a few tips:

1. Choose a Niche

There's a lot of competition, so you'll do best if you spend some time finding out where there are holes in the plumbing "coverage" in your area. Go out deliberately to fill one of those holes.

2. Get Your Documents in Order

If you start out right, you'll never get into trouble later. Make sure all your ducks are in a row: you'll need, at the least, your plumbing license, a contractor's license, and a plumbing permit. You'll also need a tax identification number and liability insurance.

3. Have a Plan

Businesses fail all the time because they don't have a plan for keeping on track. Plan out what you'll be doing in one year, five years, and ten years. Then fill in the gaps with concrete steps to get there.

4. Plan for Maximum Efficiency

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For more on how to make the most of your master plumber status and build your plumbing business efficiently, contact us at Servicebox today!

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