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A Basic Guide to the Plumbing Industry

Plumbing Fundamentals: Chapter 2


Plumbing Industry


In this module, we will introduce you to the plumbing industry. We’ll also discuss how to become a professional plumber. Skip to quiz!


Job Opportunities


The plumbing industry offers various job opportunities for plumbers. Different job roles in the plumbing industry are:

  • Plumbing technicians,

  • Pipefitters, and

  • Steamfitters.


Plumbers also work as:

  • Pipelayers,

  • Gas Service Technicians,

  • Project Managers, and

  • Business owners.

Let’s go over each of these.


We have 3 different levels of plumbing technicians. They are classified based on their experience as:

  • Apprentices,

  • Journeyman plumbers, and

  • Master plumbers.

Apprentices have almost no experience. They will have to spend 4-5 years working under a journeyman plumber to get the necessary experience.


A journeyman has to take an exam to get a license. They are also required to complete training under the supervision of a master plumber. We’ll look into certifications and exams given by plumbers in the next lesson.


The master plumber is the highest level of plumbing. A journeyman plumber needs to take additional online courses before taking the test.


Both journeyman and master plumbers work in residential settings, power plants, factories, and water treatment facilities. In commercial or industrial settings, plumbers create and install entire plumbing systems. This may involve heating and cooling systems, steamfitting, and storm drain maintenance.


As a pipefitter, we need to monitor power generation systems and heating/cooling systems. We will also work on system installations for automated controls to regulate the configurations. For example, a pipefitter needs to operate a plumbing valve to regulate the pressure.


Steamfitters complete the installation of pipes for the transportation of high-pressure gas materials. On the other hand, pipelayers dig and level trenches for pipes and then lay those pipes in the trenches. These pipes are used to carry drainage, water, gas, and sewer systems.


When it comes to delivering gas throughout a site, a qualified gas technician will be responsible for the job. We need to perform a leak test on the control mechanisms. These professionals have specializations in gas mechanism–related systems.


The plumbing industry also needs project managers responsible for supervising a group of employees in a company. Many plumbers transition into owning their own companies.


Plumber Salaries and Career Growth


Plumbers' earnings vary based on their experience and location. They receive a median salary higher than that of other construction trade workers and other workers in general.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $56,330 in May 2020. This amount is far more than the median salary of a carpenter, electrician, and glazier.


Overall, the plumbing industry is a growing trade. Jobs are expected to increase by 16% through 2026. Increased construction and a strong economy will continue to support work opportunities for plumbers in the United States.


If we consider employment growth, 51,000 openings for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are projected each year. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers that exit the labor force due to retirement.


With this growth, finding qualified employees is a significant concern for plumbing contractors and business owners. This is why a professionally skilled plumber is in high demand.


Here are the basic steps for becoming a professional plumber:

  • Get a high school diploma or pass the General Educational Development Test (GED).

  • Get certificates from vocational plumbing courses online.

  • Get into a plumbing apprenticeship program.

  • Get a plumber’s license.

Let’s learn about each of these steps.


To become plumbing professionals, we may need to have a high school diploma or pass the General Educational Development Test (GED). Plumbers should have a strong foundation in science, technology, computers, and math to pass the GED.


While a college education is not required, those pursuing a plumbing career must complete highly specified vocational training. We can do this by enrolling in online courses like SkillCat.


Once you have completed vocational training, you will then need to complete a plumbing apprenticeship. During a plumbing apprenticeship, you will receive on-the-job training and learn about plumbing codes, plumbing procedures, and specialized skills.


Many states require a plumber to be licensed. We need to take an exam to obtain a license.

This exam assesses a plumber's skill level and knowledge of plumbing codes and procedures.


The plumbing industry offers various job opportunities to plumbers. We need to have two years of experience as a plumbing apprentice to become a journeyman plumber. Becoming a Master Plumber requires one year of Journeyman experience.


Plumbers’ median salary is higher than that of other construction trade workers and other workers in general. Overall, the plumbing industry is a growing trade. Jobs are expected to increase by 16% through 2026.


 

Licensing


In this module, we will learn about the licensing and certification required to be a plumber. We’ll also discuss the penalty for carrying out plumbing work without a license. Skip to quiz!


Defining Plumbing


Licensing and certifications help ensure plumbing contractors hire qualified employees. It also ensures that all plumbing codes are followed during installation and repair work for a plumbing system.


If we increase regulations, it can create a barrier for plumbing individuals or companies. This is mainly because of the cost and time associated with securing licensing.

Almost all states in the USA, excluding Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, require plumbing licenses. These few states have opted out of licensing requirements because of the time and cost associated with securing licensing.


License providing organizations are as follows:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE)

  • International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed as a result of environmental concerns. The EPA is focused on protecting human health and the environment. Due to an increased demand for plumbing systems, we need to regulate the manufacturing and disposal of chemicals.


Section 608 of the EPA regulations is focused on environmental safety and technician safety. The technician must be certified to

  • Maintain,

  • Repair, and

  • Dispose of plumbing equipment.


Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates replacing mercury-containing manometers with gauges that do not contain this toxic chemical. If we do not handle the gauges correctly, mercury can release into the environment. Mercury poisoning can cause brain and nerve damage, as well as irritability.


The EPA announced a rule to reduce lead in plumbing materials used in public water systems, homes, schools, and other facilities. This is because lead is harmful to the environment.


Many HVAC technicians in the US also have plumbing experience and specialize in all plumbing and HVAC areas. That’s why plumbers are often called to fix HVAC systems. The EPA certification for plumbers ensures that they can handle an HVAC system correctly.


The American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) is an international organization for professionals skilled in designing and inspecting plumbing systems. ASPE provides certifications like Certified Plumbing Design Technician (CPDT).


The International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) is a community of plumbing experts. IAPMO develops plumbing code for correct plumbing installation and repair work.


In addition to model code development, IAPMO is North America’s mechanical and plumbing product certification agency. It provides personnel certification, industry-leading education, product testing, and certification.


Other Organizations


Plumbers receive certification assistance services from various other organizations:

  • Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC)

  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)

  • Building Performance Institute (BPI)


The certifications provided by these organizations for plumbers are:

  • Certified Plumbing Design Technician (CPDT)

  • Heating Professional

  • Piping Inspector Certification (API)


Certified Plumbing Design Technician (CPDT) indicates the practice of plumbing design at the technician level. With the Heating Professional certification, one can optimize heating equipment installation and maintenance concerning other building systems.


The Piping Inspector Certification Program (PICP) provides a high level of safety through the use of specialized inspectors. This is done to improve repair and alteration work. This also reduces the potential for inspection delays resulting from regulatory requirements.


As of July 1, 2018, the value of a penalty unit is $161.19. The maximum penalty for carrying out plumbing work without license or registration is 500 penalty units. That’s about an $80,595 fine.


Licensing and certifications help ensure plumbing contractors hire qualified employees. Almost all states, excluding Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, require plumbing licenses.


License-providing organizations include the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE). The maximum penalty for carrying out plumbing work without license or registration is an $80,595 fine.



 

Question #1: Which job roles are available for a plumber in the plumbing industry? (select all that apply)

  1. Plumbing technician

  2. Pipefitters

  3. CAE engineer

  4. Project Managers

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Answer: Plumbing technician

Pipefitters

Project Managers

Different job roles in the plumbing industry for plumbers are:

  • Plumbing technicians,

  • Pipefitters,

  • Steamfitters, and

  • Project Managers.


Question #2: How can an individual become a master plumber?

  1. By passing an exam

  2. Completing high school diploma

  3. After gaining one year of experience as a journeyman plumber and then passing an exam

  4. Working as a plumbing apprentice for two years

Scroll down for the answer...













Answer: After gaining one year of experience as a journeyman plumber and then passing an exam

Master Plumbers require one year of journeyman experience. We must also pass an exam to get certified.


Question #3: What is the role of a plumbing project manager?

  1. Digging and leveling the trenches for pipes

  2. Supervising a group of plumbers in a company

  3. Improving athletic ability

  4. Performing a leak test on plumbing control mechanisms

Scroll down for the answer...
















Answer: Supervising a group of plumbers in a company

Project managers are responsible for supervising a group of employees in a company.


Question #4: Why is there an increased demand for workers in the plumbing field?

  1. People do not care about global warming

  2. Everyone wants to go to HVAC trade schools instead of college

  3. A lot of people currently working in the plumbing field are retiring

  4. People do not want money

Scroll down for the answer...















Answer: A lot of people currently working in the plumbing field are retiring

There is a high demand for workers in the plumbing field because many current workers are retiring.


Question #5: What challenges does the plumbing industry face?

  1. People do not care about global warming

  2. Everyone wants to go to HVAC trade school instead of plumbing

  3. Lack of qualified and skilled plumbers

  4. People do not want money

Scroll down for the answer...












Answer: Lack of qualified and skilled plumbers

With the increased demand for workers in the plumbing field, finding qualified employees is a significant concern.


Question #6: What are the requirements to become a professional plumber? (select all that apply)

  1. Get into a plumbing apprenticeship program

  2. Get a plumber’s license

  3. Pass the General Educational Development (GED) test

  4. Get certificates from vocational plumbing courses online

Scroll down for the answer...














Answer: Get into a plumbing apprenticeship program

Get a plumber’s license

Pass the General Educational Development (GED) test

Get certificates from vocational plumbing courses online

The basic steps for becoming a professional plumber:

  • Get a high school diploma or pass General Educational Development Test (GED)

  • Get certificates from vocational plumbing courses online

  • Get into a plumbing apprenticeship program

  • Get a plumber’s license


Question #7: All states in USA require a plumbing license.

  1. True

  2. False

Scroll down for the answer...









Answer: False

Almost all states in the USA, excluding Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming, require plumbing licenses.


Question #8: Which of the following organizations provide certification and licenses to plumbers? (select all that apply)

  1. American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE)

  2. American Accounting Association (AAA)

  3. International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)

  4. American Chemical Society (ACS)

Scroll down for the answer...










Answer: American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE)

International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)

License providing organizations are as follows:

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE)

  • International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)


Question #9: A section 608 certification is required for anyone that is maintaining, repairing, and disposing of plumbing systems.

  1. True

  2. False

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Answer: True

Anyone who is maintaining, repairing, and disposing of plumbing systems should have a section 608 certification.


Question #10: Which organizations assist plumbers to get certified?

  1. American Chemical Society (ACS)

  2. Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC)

  3. American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

  4. Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)

Scroll down for the answer...










Answer: Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC)

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)

Plumbers get certification assistance services from various other organizations:

  • Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC)

  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC)


Question #11: What is the maximum penalty if a plumber is not certified?

  1. No penalty

  2. 500 penalty units

  3. Jail or prison sentence

  4. Death penalty

Scroll down for the answer...












Answer: 500 penalty units

The maximum penalty for carrying out plumbing work without license or registration is 500 penalty units.

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