How to Become a Plumber in Alabama
Plumbers install plumbing fixtures, repair and replace pipes, remove drain obstructions and maintain septic systems. Plumbing is a career that is considered high in demand since many experienced plumbers are retiring, and there aren’t enough skilled workers to take their place. Whether it’s installing plumbing fixtures or pipes in a new home or repairing leaky pipes or a clogged septic system, all homes and most other buildings require the help of a plumber at some point.
There are specific guidelines to follow to become a plumber in each state. Keep reading to find out what you need to do to work as a plumber in Alabama.
Requirements to Become a Plumber in Alabama
To work as a plumber in the state of Alabama, first you must have a high school diploma or GED. You should also have essential reading, writing, math and science skills. Furthermore, you will probably also need a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a background check. Then you will need to either complete a plumber’s apprenticeship training program or find a licensed journeyman or master plumber who will supervise you and let you work under them as an apprentice for at least two years. You will have to have at least two years’ experience as an apprentice before you can become licensed as a journeyman and then work your way up to a master plumber.
Plumbing Schools in Alabama
There are a few community colleges and vocational schools in the state that offer plumber training programs. There is even an online option. Here is an overview of what training is available for aspiring plumbers in Alabama:
- Lawson State Community College. Lawson State has campuses in Birmingham and Bessemer. The plumbing program at Lawson State consists of 28 credit hours and can be completed in about a year. Students will be given an apprentice card when entering the program and will be eligible to sit for the journeyman license exam upon graduation.
- Calhoun Community College. The Huntsville campus of Calhoun Community College offers an NCCER Basic Plumbing program. The program can be completed in about seven months, and classes are offered at night so that students can work during the day.
- Associated Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Alabama online program. The APHCC offers an entirely online training program for apprentice plumbers and heating and cooling contractors. Those interested will need to complete an apprenticeship application for the program and then pay tuition once they are accepted. With the program being online, this gives the students the flexibility of being able to work and still complete training.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in Alabama
If you live in Alabama and are interested in becoming a plumber, you will need to complete a plumbing apprenticeship first. To work as a licensed journeyman and master plumber in the state, you need at least two years’ experience as a plumber’s apprentice. Working under a licensed plumber as an apprentice is critical because you need the on-the-job training.
In Alabama, there are a few ways you can train as an apprentice plumber. First, you need to register as an apprentice with the state by filling out a registration form and paying an application fee. This form can be found on the Associated Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Alabama (APHCC) website. Then you can find an apprenticeship program offered either by a local union, a non-union plumber, or community or technical colleges.
Apprenticeship programs are also offered through the state. Here are a few of your options:
- Associated Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors of Alabama— Not only does the APHCC have the apprenticeship registration form you need, they also offer an online training program for apprentice plumbers.
- UA Local 119— The UA Local 119, located in Mobile, has a five-year apprenticeship program in which students attend classes two nights a week and complete training in plumbing, welding, HVAC and pipefitting. Apprentices in this union receive a raise every six months.
- Lawson State Community College —With campuses in Birmingham and Bessemer, LSCC offers a plumbing training program that can be completed in about a year. Students entering this program must either join a local union or find a non-union company to work for while enrolled in the program. After completing the program and working for a year, they will be able to take the exam to get their journeyman license.
Licensing or Certification for Plumbers
You must be licensed to work as a plumber in the state of Alabama. There are three levels of licensure or certification for plumbers in Alabama: apprenticeship, journeyman and master plumber. To become an apprentice plumber, you don’t have to complete an exam, but you will need to fill out a registration form and pay a fee of $25, and then renew it annually for $10. Then you will need to find a registered journeyman or master plumber to work for to complete your apprenticeship. Or, you may also complete one of the training programs mentioned above.
To become a licensed journeyman plumber, you must first work at least two years as an apprentice plumber or complete an apprenticeship program. You will then need to take and pass the journeyman plumber’s exam given by the State of Alabama Plumbers and Gas Fitters Examining Board. You will also need to pay a $110 license fee and then pay $30 annually to renew your license.
Once you have worked for at least a year as a journeyman plumber, you can take the exam to become a master plumber. When you pass the exam, you will need to pay a $160 license fee and then pay $125 annually to renew it.
Journeyman and master plumber exams are offered in Alabama in the cities of Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery. Unfortunately, the state of Alabama does not reciprocate plumbers’ licenses. This means that even if you have a journeyman or master plumber’s license in another state, you will still need to get an Alabama plumber’s license to work in the state.
Salary and Job Opportunities for Plumbers
Plumbers across the United States were making a median annual wage of $59,880 in 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plumbers in the state of Alabama were making an average of $22.63 hourly or $47,070 annually at that time.
While there is no state-specific employment data for plumbers in Alabama, this job field is expected to see a growth projection of approximately 8 percent over the next few years, according to Projections Central.
Working as a Plumber in Alabama
Plumbers read blueprints in addition to installing and repairing fixtures and pipes. As a master plumber, you’ll probably provide estimates for the work you’ll be doing for your clients. As a plumber, you’ll often have to work outdoors and sometimes in small spaces. You will work during the day as well as nights and weekends. You might also have to answer emergency calls like taking care of a flooded bathroom or a busted pipe.
Plumbers are needed across the state since everyone will most likely depend upon the help of a plumber eventually. However, you might find more work in the more populated cities like Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery and Tuscaloosa.