Becoming a Plumber in Kentucky

Plumbers are skilled workers who install, maintain and repair plumbing systems in houses, apartment buildings, commercial buildings and other facilities. They train through apprenticeships, but many also earn certificates, diplomas or degrees.

In Kentucky, you will need to be licensed, but as a skilled trade plumbing is a job you can do while you train and earn at the same time. If you are interested in a stable career working with your hands, communicating with people and problem solving, consider plumbing.

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Kentucky Requirements for Plumbers

A great thing about this career is that you can get into it quickly and start earning right away, even without a college degree. You also have options. There is more than one path to a plumbing career, but all begin with graduating from high school or earning a GED. From there you can go to a community college, plumbing trade program or local union apprenticeship.

Regardless of the program you choose, you will need to work as an apprentice for one or two years before passing an exam and becoming licensed as a journey plumber. With two years at that level, you can apply to become a master plumber.

Plumbing Programs in Kentucky

Kentucky has several options for training to become a journey plumber. You can start with an apprenticeship instead of going to college, but you will have to find a master plumber willing to take you on. Check with local plumbers’ unions, which offer apprenticeship programs. Other options include:

  • Jefferson Community and Technical College. Several of the state’s Community and Technical College locations, including this Louisville location, offer courses, diplomas and associate degrees in plumbing. Jefferson’s program includes classes, lab work and practical experience to help students get their required apprenticeship hours. Students can also earn certificates in certain areas of plumbing specialty: finish plumber, maintenance plumber, plumber estimator and others.
  • Building Institute of Central Kentucky. This organization works with master plumbers and contractors to get students apprenticeships. Students work during the day, earning a salary and training, while also taking courses in the evening. At this accelerated pace, graduates are ready within a year to pass the journey plumbing exam.
  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College. West Kentucky’s apprenticeship studies program includes a few courses and an apprenticeship through the Plumbers and Steamfitters Union. Students in this program must register as apprentices through the U.S. Department of Labor.

Licensing for Plumbers

In Kentucky, plumbers must be licensed through the state’s Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction. After completion of an apprenticeship or college program with practical hours, you can become a journey plumber. Requirements for this first license include:

  • Two years working as an apprentice under a master plumber or one year as an apprentice and a college or equivalent program with plumbing coursework
  • A score of at least 75 percent on the journey plumber exam
  • A $60 license fee

After working as a journey plumber, you can become licensed as a master plumber, which requires:

  • Two years working under a master plumber with a journey license within the last five years or an engineer license with proven experience in mechanical engineering
  • A score of at least 80 percent on the master plumber exam
  • A $250 license fee

Career and Salary Outlook for Plumbers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), careers for plumbers are growing at a rate of 14 percent across all states. This is exceptionally strong growth in a career with high demand and good job security. For Kentucky, Projections Central reports slower but still significant growth for plumbers of 5.1 percent.

Kentucky salary statistics for plumbers indicate that the average hourly rate is $27.19. The average annual salary is $56,550, but plumbers in the state can earn as much as $79,910 or even higher. Kentucky plumber salaries are a little higher than the national average, as reported by the BLS.

Landing a Plumbing Job in Kentucky

Plumbers are needed everywhere in the state, but you are most likely to have varied opportunities and higher salaries in the bigger cities: Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green and Owensboro. Most plumbers work for contractors, but some freelance, work for organizations or are hired by the government.

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