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.

Search Plumber Programs

Get information on Plumber programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

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 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 Schools 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 plumbing programs 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 plumbing technology 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.

Finding a Plumbing Apprenticeship in Kentucky

Working as a plumber can provide a well-paying, in-demand career in Kentucky or any state. To get into this profession, you start as an apprentice plumber. During your apprenticeship, you study plumbing concepts within a classroom setting and you also go into the field to gain hands-on training supervised by an experienced plumber.

A plumbing apprenticeship is paid, which makes it easier to dedicate yourself to career training while gaining an income. Also, you leave the program ready to take on the role of a journeyman plumber, which is the next step in the career ladder.

Apprenticeship programs in Kentucky have minimal requirements. While many states require a four- to five-year program, Kentucky only requires two years as an apprentice or a course plus one year as an apprentice. Nonetheless, an actual apprenticeship program may last longer than the two-year requirement. After the apprenticeship completes, you can apply to become a journeyman plumber through Kentucky’s Department of Housing, Buildings & Construction.

Once you are ready to find a plumbing apprenticeship in Kentucky, you have the choice of a union program or a non-union one that may be offered through a college, career school or company. To find a program in your area, you can perform a search on career boards like ZipRecruiter or on Google. West Kentucky Community & Technical College in Paducah has a program that provides classroom training and partners with unions and other apprenticeship opportunities. Other options includeUA Local 502 in Louisville or the Enzweiler Building Institute in Erlanger.

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

In Kentucky, the average annual salary for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters stands at $57,820, which is slightly below the national average of $60,090. The lowest 10% of earners in Kentucky make $32,080, which is less than the national lowest 10% at $37,250. However, the highest earners in Kentucky (top 10%) can make up to $84,020, which is considerably less than the national top earners who can reach up to $101,190.

National vs. Kentucky Salary Comparison

Location 10% Low 25% Low Median 75% High 90% High
United States $37,250 $46,630 $60,090 $78,960 $101,190
Kentucky $32,080 $38,920 $57,820 $76,020 $84,020

Salaries by Regions in Kentucky

Region 10% Low 25% Low Median 75% High 90% High
Lexington-Fayette, KY $35,620 $45,820 $60,130 $79,350 $87,330
Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN $36,060 $41,640 $59,470 $75,640 $86,000
Owensboro, KY $35,110 $47,490 $65,000 $80,650 $84,020

Plumbing Trends in Kentucky

The employment landscape for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters in Kentucky is projected to experience modest growth from 2020 to 2030. The state had 5,150 professionals employed in this sector in 2020, with projections indicating an increase to 5,400 by 2030, representing a growth rate of 5%. This growth is slightly higher than the national average growth rate of 2% projected from 2022 to 2032.

Kentucky is expected to have approximately 560 job openings annually over this decade. These openings will be due to both new job growth and the need to replace workers who retire or leave the field for other reasons, indicating a steady demand for skilled labor in this sector.

Location Employment (Start of Period) Projected Employment (End of Period) Projected Growth Projected Annual Job Openings
Kentucky 5,150 (2020) 5,400 (2030) 5% 560
United States 482,700 (2022) 493,600 (2032) 2% 42,600

Sources of data:

  1. State Data: The projections for this State from 2020 to 2030 are provided by Projections Central, which offers long-term projections for occupational employment.
  2. United States Data: The nationwide employment projections from 2022 to 2032 are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which regularly publishes detailed employment projections for a wide range of occupations across the United States.

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.

College Listings