How to Become a Plumber in Massachusetts
No matter where you live in America, you’ll find plumbers hard at work. On both residential and commercial projects, these highly trained professionals install and repair water and sewer systems. In addition, they often install and repair gas lines.
Plumbers are well-paid for their extensive expertise. This is especially true in Massachusetts, where salaries beat the national average by thousands of dollars a year. However, to work as a plumber, you must go through a rigorous training and licensing process. In addition, to gain the highest possible salary, you must accumulate years of work experience.
Want to know how you can get started on your goal of becoming a Massachusetts plumber? This guide will help you create a workable plan of action.
Plumber Licensing and Training in Massachusetts
There are three levels in the plumbing profession: apprentice, journeyman and master. Beginners start as apprentices and gradually work their way toward mastery. In Massachusetts, you must obtain a separate license to work at each plumbing level. All licensing is handled by the state’s Board of Registration of Plumbers and Gas Fitters.
To obtain an apprentice plumber’s license, all you need to do is file your application and pay a small fee. To obtain a journeyman plumbing license, you must also:
- Be licensed as an apprentice plumber
- Work as an apprentice for five years
- Take a total of 550 hours of training classes
- Be employed by a licensed master plumber
To obtain a master plumber’s license in Massachusetts, you must:
- Get your journeyman’s license
- Accumulate at least 2,000 hours of experience as a journeyman
- Take an additional 110 hours of classes
Apprentice plumber training in the state follows a plumbing tier system. Each year of your five-year apprenticeship, you will take a total of 110 hours of classes. After completing Tier 5 in the fifth year, you can sit for your journeyman’s exam. You must pass an additional exam to work as a master. All journeymen and masters must renew their credentials periodically.
If you want to provide gas fitting services in Massachusetts, you must obtain an additional gas fitter’s license. As with plumbers, there are separate licenses for apprentices, journeymen and masters. There are also required examinations for journeyman and master licensing.
Plumbing programs at vocational technical high schools and other training institutions typically cover some of the following topics:
- Plumbing and gas fitting
- Residential and commercial heating
- Fixture and appliance installation
- Gas systems
- Hydronic heating systems
- Victaulic piping systems
- Gas fitting theory coursework
Plumbing Schools in Massachusetts
Any plumbing program worth your consideration must prepare you for Massachusetts’ thorough licensing process. Examples of institutions that meet this high standard include:
- The Peterson School – Peterson offers training in Woburn, Westwood and Worcester. There are courses covering each tier of apprenticeship training. There is also a course for journeymen who want to take their master’s exam. In addition, Peterson offers a prep class for the state’s gas fitting exams.
- Southeastern Technical Institute – Based in South Easton, this school offers a comprehensive training program for apprentice plumbers. That includes courses for each of the five training tiers. Classes are held at night for your convenience.
- The Plumbing Academy – The Plumbing Academy features online training that meets all state guidelines. There are classes for each apprenticeship tier. Added perks include exam preparation courses and practice testing services.
Becoming an Apprentice Plumber in Massachusetts
If you’re interested in becoming a plumber in Massachusetts, you’ll need to go through extensive training to prepare you to work in this skilled trade. There are three levels of plumbing licenses in Massachusetts starting with plumbing apprentice. With more training and experience, you can gradually work toward becoming a journeyman and then a master plumber. Each level requires a separate license.
Most plumbers get started by learning on the job through an apprenticeship. You’ll need a high school diploma or the equivalent, and you’ll need to apply for an apprentice license through the Board of Registration of Plumbers and Gas Fitters
An apprenticeship in Massachusetts consists of five years of paid on-the-job training under the supervision of an experienced master plumber. Your apprenticeship also includes technical instruction in mathematics, blueprint reading and learning local codes and regulations. During your apprenticeship, you’ll learn to assemble, install and repair pipes and drainage systems. You’ll learn to identify and fix leaks along with service installation, fixture installation and other skills.
How do you obtain an apprenticeship position? Apprenticeships in Massachusetts can be obtained through a union program, a non-union program through a private company or by getting formal training at a trade school or community college. An example of a training program is the plumbing apprenticeship program offered by Southeastern Technical Institute in South Easton, MA.
How Much Do Massachusetts Plumbers Make?
Up-to-date figures from ZipRecruiter.com show that Massachusetts plumbers make an average of just over $78,000 a year. That’s about $10,000 above the typical pay for plumbers nationwide. The highest salaries go to master plumbers, whose average annual income is about $129,000. Apprentices can expect to make an income somewhere in the mid-$40,000 range.
Job Forecasting for Plumbers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics groups plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters into a single employment category. As a whole, this category is growing significantly. In fact, job openings for the included professionals will increase by about 25 percent between 2020 and 2030. That amounts to more than 68,000 new positions. Massachusetts is undoubtedly part of this upward trend. As a rule, you can expect a strong market for your skills in most parts of the state.