How to Become a Plumber in Washington, D.C.

In a career as a plumber, you would be able to install pipes and piping systems that carry water, gas or other substances. You would also know how to maintain and repair those piping systems. Plumbers work in residences as well as commercial, governmental and construction settings. You would need customer service skills because you would generally work directly with clients. In Washington, D.C., or District of Columbia, many opportunities would be open to you with a career in this growing field.

Requirements for Becoming a Plumber in Washington, D.C.

To begin working as a plumber in Washington, D.C., you begin as an apprentice, which has no requirements for getting started. You reach the next step, a journeyman plumber, by going through an apprenticeship training program or gaining four years of experience and passing an exam. After eight years of experience, you will qualify to take the master plumber exam.

Prospective employers may require you to have a valid driver’s license. The District of Columbia Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs also requires plumbers in Washington, D.C., to pass an examination that covers general knowledge, electrical components and codes, water systems, plumbing fixtures, and heating and air-conditioning systems. Additionally, the department offers licensure for plumbing inspectors who check the quality of installed systems and make sure that they follow existing codes.

Once you become a licensed plumber in Washington, D.C., you will need to stay up-to-date on plumbing regulations and renew your license every three years. You can meet the requirements for renewal by taking continuing education courses or attending relevant seminars and workshops.

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Training Courses and Educational Programs in Washington, D.C.

Generally, you learn plumbing through an apprenticeship, although you can also find courses in the trade through community or career colleges. Look into apprenticeship programs first because they include classroom training in addition to hands-on training.

These are some of the local District of Columbia educational programs available to you:

Plumbing Apprenticeships in the District of Columbia

Do you live in Washington, DC and want to become a plumber? If so, you will want to know all about plumbing apprenticeships in the District of Columbia. Plumbing apprentices in the city must register with the mayor’s office and complete four years and 8,000 hours as an apprentice before they can become a fully qualified plumber. As such, it is imperative for a prospective plumber to participate in an apprenticeship program. 

Apprenticeships allow those learning the trade to work in the field, assisting a journeyman or master plumber. In this way, the apprentice receives both ongoing guidance from a fully qualified plumber and hands-on experience completing the various tasks a plumber’s job entails. In addition, plumbing apprentices are paid a living wage for their work, significantly reducing the financial burdens associated with most career training opportunities.

You can choose to complete your training through a union apprenticeship or a non-union apprenticeship. Union apprenticeships require the apprentice to join the union and pay union dues but usually pay higher wages. Non-union apprenticeships have a less strict division of labor and no requirement for the payment of dues. In either case, you will be sure to learn the skills you need to succeed as a plumber.

You can find out more about apprenticeships in Washington DC here. Union apprenticeships are available in the district through Washington DC Local 5 Plumbers. There is also a full listing of non-union apprenticeship sponsors at the Department of Employment Services.

Licensing for Becoming a Plumber in Washington, D.C.

You need licensing to work as a journeyman or master plumber in Washington, D.C., while it’s not necessary for those starting out as apprentices. Get your licensing through the DC Board of Industrial Trades. To procure your plumbing license, you need the necessary experience for the level you are trying to reach and you need to pass an exam.

Career Outlook and Salary Expectations

Washington D.C. plumber salaries are significantly higher than the national average at an hourly rate of $37.13 or an annual salary of $77,240, according to Indeed. Plumbers can also expect to make overtime compensation because they tend to work evening and weekend hours. Overtime pay in this area can add up to about $6,750 per year.

Plumbing is also a job with a positive outlook. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a plumber growth rate of 7 percent within the period of 2020 to 2030. This is considered change that’s better than the average across all occupations.

Working as a Plumber in Washington, D.C.

Plumbers generally work for employers. The BLS notes that the top employer of this role is contractors in plumbing, heating and air conditioning. Another option is to work directly for government, commercial or construction employers. Alternatively, you have the choice to work for yourself as an independent contractor who provides plumbing services for clients.

Plumbing provides a steady and growing occupation in Washington, D.C. You can easily start as a paid apprentice and receive on-the-job training. Over time, you can work your way up to gain more money and opportunities in the plumbing field.