If you're interested in forgoing traditional college in favor of a vocational career, you may want to look into plumbing trade schools or plumbing vocational schools. These specialized career centers can prepare you for a career in this high demand industry. For example, specialized training in pipefitting can teach you how to install and maintain pipes that carry non-water substances such as gas, chemicals and acids. Those who specialize in steamfitting, on the other hand, learn how to install pipes that move steam under high pressure (BLS.gov).
Plumbing schools offer training that encompasses a wide range of careers within this industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the following specializations are possible within the field of plumbing:
- Gasfitters- install and maintain pipes that move natural gas in residential, commercial and industrial settings
- Plumbers- install and repair water, drainage and gas pipes in residential, industrial and commercial settings
- Pipefitters- install and maintain pipes that move a wide range of acids, chemicals and substances
- Sprinkler fitters- install sprinkler systems
- Steamfitters- install pipes that move steam under pressure
Plumber certifications and degrees
According to the BLS, most plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters learn their trade through an apprenticeship. However, a growing number of students are also pursuing plumbing education at plumbing vocational schools in order to supplement their on-the-job training. As the BLS notes, most states require plumbers to become licensed in their trade by gaining two to five years of experience and passing an exam that shows competency and knowledge of their specific skills.
Plumbing trade schools can help students understand the basic principles of the industry and are meant to complement hands-on experience. Courses offered in plumbing vocational schools can include welding, pipe system design, safety and an introduction to the tools of the trade. According to the BLS, professionals in this field may also need to study physics, mathematics and chemistry in order to understand the underlying principles of their work.
Plumber salary and career outlook
Because of an ongoing need for professionals to install, repair and maintain new and existing plumbing infrastructure, the career outlook for plumbers remains excellent. According to the BLS, employment for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is expected to increase 21 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022, which is almost twice the average for all occupations combined. According to Projections Central, the following states expect even larger increases in employment for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters from 2012 to 2022:
- Nevada: 44.5 Percent
- Colorado: 34.1 percent
- Florida: 32.1 percent
- Idaho: 31.7 percent
- Washington: 31.0 percent
This growing career has a lot to offer those who are willing to work hard and learn the tools of the trade. And due to healthy employment projections for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters, there is no better time to look into plumbing vocational schools.
Long-Term Projections, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters, Projections Central, State Occupational Projections, 2014, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2013, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes472152.htm
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/plumbers-pipefitters-and-steamfitters.htm