The minimum educational qualification for a plumber is typically a high school diploma or equivalent. After high school, aspiring plumbers either enter an apprenticeship or get formal training through a vocational or technical school. These training programs generally last one to two years and cover a variety of topics including math, applied physics and chemistry, drafting, plumbing codes and regulations, pipe system design, reading blueprints, work safety, building codes, and proper tool use. Most states require plumbers to be licensed. Qualifications for licensure vary but typically include at least two years of experience and the successful completion of an exam.
Plumbers must have the physical strength to lift and move heavy piping and the mechanical ability to assemble and repair pipe systems. Plumbers also need to be good trouble-shooters, in order to diagnose water pressure problems or track down a troublesome leak. You'll need good customer service skills as well. Plumbers work with costumers on a regular basis and a positive review or referral can do wonders to build a plumbing business. Strong managerial skills are also important. You may need to bid on projects, assemble a team of workers, and ensure the work gets done on time and within budget.
If formal education isn't the right path for you, you can become a plumber through an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeships generally last from four to five years and are sponsored by unions or other labor organizations. You'll work closely with an experienced plumber and learn the same types of skills you would through a college program.
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