Becoming a Plumber in Connecticut
Plumbers are highly valued members of the American workforce. Throughout the year, they provide crucial services to the nation’s homeowners and businesses. These services often involve the installation of new water, sewer or gas systems. In addition, trained plumbers can repair the systems they install.
You can make a good living working as an experienced plumber in most parts of the U.S. That includes Connecticut, where veteran plumbing professionals earn sizable annual incomes.
How can you get started as a working plumber? To work in Connecticut, you must follow detailed guidelines for both training and licensing. Here are some of the things you need to know before you begin your quest for plumbing employment.
Plumber Training and Licensing in Connecticut
All plumbers working legally in Connecticut must follow procedures established by the state’s Department of Consumer Protection. These procedures require all newcomers to the field to register as apprentices with the Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Training Division. After you register, you must enroll in an apprenticeship program approved by the state. Only after you complete your apprenticeship can you take a plumber licensing exam.
There are two types of licensed plumbers in Connecticut: journeypersons and contractors. To work as a journeyperson, you must complete your approved apprenticeship course. A journeyperson can only work as an employee of a licensed contractor. To work as a contractor, you must do either of two things:
- Complete at least two years of employment as a journeyperson
- Demonstrate a level of skill equal to that of an experienced journeyperson
There are two main levels of licensing for both journeypersons and contractors: limited and unlimited. Holders of limited licenses can only work on certain kinds of plumbing projects. Holders of unlimited licenses can work on any project. Unlimited plumbers must meet a higher standard of experience than limited plumbers.
There are several licensing specializations for limited Connecticut plumbers. Areas of specialization include:
- Well pumps and piping
- Water, sewer and storm lines
- Gasoline tanks, pumps and piping
To work in a specific area as a limited journeyperson or contractor, you must hold the proper license for that area. Unlimited journeypersons and contractors can work in all areas of the plumbing profession.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in Connecticut
Plumbing is a skilled trade that can’t be learned in a classroom setting alone. Alongside the solid mathematics and physics skills required for the job, you’ll need a great deal of practical experience. For these reasons, most states, including Connecticut, license and regulate plumbers. To work as a plumber you’ll need to have completed a registered apprenticeship program or to demonstrate equivalent experience.
An apprenticeship is an ancient way of learning a skilled trade. Instead of paying to take a course, you’ll be paid a decent wage to learn plumbing on the job, working under the direct supervision of experienced plumbers. You’ll also gain valuable industry context, working on real-life job sites in your area, getting to know clients and colleagues and building relationships that could persist throughout your entire working life. Apprenticeships take four to five years, and are complemented by coursework in approved training programs, which are often paid for by your employer.
In Connecticut, the state government maintains a list of registered employers who can offer apprenticeships. Websites like ZipRecruiter and Indeed are good places to check for available openings if you’re looking to apprentice with a private company.
Another option is to apprentice with a trade union. Plumbers unions form Joint Apprenticeship Councils with area employers and advertise available opportunities online. For example, the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 777,based in Meriden, Connecticut, hires apprentices every year. Apprentices are eligible for health insurance and benefit from a 40-hour workweek. Apprentices are covered under the union’s collective bargaining agreement, meaning their working conditions are protected.
Plumbing Schools in Connecticut
Those looking for a plumbing school have various options available to them. Many would-be apprentices go to work for a sponsoring plumbing company that follows the state’s training guidelines. If you’re still in high school, you can take advantage of approved courses provided at one the schools in the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System. Examples of Connecticut trade schools include:
- Eli Whitney Technical High School in Hamden
- A.I. Prince Technical High School in Hartford
- W.F. Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury
Additional options for approved apprentice training include:
- United Association Local 777 Plumbers & Pipefitters – This is a union-run, five-year apprenticeship program. It features a combination of classroom instruction and a full schedule of weekly training with licensed journeypersons.
- Industrial Management & Training Institute – IMTI’s Plumbing Technician Program provides you with apprentice-level experience in residential, commercial and industrial plumbing.
- Porter and Chester Institute: Porter and Chester institute offers a comprehensive plumbing program, which includes instruction in welding, pipefitting and construction.
Commercial, residential, and industrial plumbing applications may include:
- Mechanical systems
- Drainage fixture units
- Install pipes
- Water supply fixture units
- Hydronic heating applications
- Gas pipe sizing
- Mechanical codes
Earnings Potential for Connecticut Plumbers
Researchers from ZipRecruiter.com report that licensed Connecticut plumbers make an average annual salary of just over $63,000. The lowest-paid licensed plumbers make about $36,000 a year. The top of the salary range is in the mid-$97,000s. Apprentices can expect to earn considerably less money than their licensed peers.
Plumber Job Market Predictions
Job market researchers include plumbers in a labor category along with steamfitters and pipefitters. Current employment projections for these skilled professionals are quite positive. In fact, plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters can expect to see more than 48,000 new openings across the country between 2020 and 2030. If you work in any of these fields, chances are you can look forward to an ongoing need for your services.