To have a successful career in plumbing, one needs to be in good physical condition, with proficient manual dexterity and an aptitude for mechanical processes. Although many plumbers learn the trade through on-the-job training and apprenticeships, individuals can also choose to pursue formal training through community colleges, vocational or trade schools, as well as the armed forces.
Many plumbers begin by training as apprentices within local plumbing unions. Most states require plumbing apprentices to be at least 17 or 18 years of age and possess a high school diploma or its equivalent. Apprentice programs typically take 2-5 years to complete. During this time, trainees learn to read blueprints and apply local plumbing codes. They learn through both hands-on training and classroom-style lectures. Following this period, the apprentice must pass an exam to become a licensed journeyman plumber. This exam is regulated and administered by their state of prospective employment.
To advance to master plumber status, licensed journeymen likely need to complete an additional 4-5 years of independent, hands-on work experience. They must also pass various federal, state and local plumbing exams. Typically, each state has a different set of conditions and testing parameters that must be satisfied by candidates pursuing their master plumber license
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