Becoming a Plumber in Maine
Working as a plumber comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also holds the potential for a lasting and lucrative career. As one of our most vital infrastructures, plumbing exists in nearly every building and provides the structure that enables many different systems to function. Although commonly thought of as a water and sewer transportation system, plumbing is also used in heating, air conditioning and gas delivery systems for medical and industrial gasses. Working in the industry can mean planning, installing, maintaining and repairing all of the above.
Working as a plumber can require a great deal of physical stamina, as it can mean crawling or sliding into tight spaces to work. The work involves the use of tools on a regular basis, and you will need to have good hand-eye coordination as well as the ability to spot small leaks and other problems. Excellent communication skills will be essential for communicating with clients and colleagues.
Maine Licensing Requirements
Maine has four different licenses for plumbers: Trainee Plumber, Journeyman-in-Training, Journeyman Plumber and Master Plumber. Of these, only the Master Plumber can supervise the other three. To apply for the Master Plumber’s examination, you must have worked for at least one year and 2,000 hours as a licensed journeyman plumber or four years and 8,000 hours as a licensed trainee plumber.
Training for Maine Plumbers
To train as a plumber, you will first need to obtain a high school diploma or equivalent. Once acquired, plumber training can be completed by participating in an educational program, an apprenticeship or a combination of the two. For those interested in finding an apprenticeship in their area, this website might help. Training programs in Maine include the following:
- Southern Maine Community College offers a Plumbing Certificate. The program will prepare students for entry-level positions in the field.
- Washington County Community College offers a Plumbing Technology Certificate.The program takes one year to complete.
- Eastern Maine Community College offers a Plumbing Certificate. Upon completion of the program, students may work under the supervision of a master or journeyman plumber.
- Northern Maine Community College offers a Plumbing and Heating program. Students will be qualified to sit for the Journeyman Plumber examination upon completion of the program.
Plumbing Apprenticeship Opportunities in Maine
Are you a resident of Maine who is looking to train as a plumber? If so, an apprenticeship will be an essential part of your training, even if you choose to complete a training program. In fact, in Maine, you will be required to register as a licensed trainee for at least two years (and 4,000 hours) before you can become a licensed plumber.
Apprenticeships are a great way to learn a trade, with several advantages over classroom-based training. First of all, apprenticeships give you the chance to experience the day-to-day life of a plumber, gain valuable hands-on experience and learn from fully-qualified professionals. However, as much as you can gain from this type of experience, one of the best advantages is that apprentices are paid a living wage, relieving the burden of financial obligations that most students face.
When seeking an apprenticeship, you will need to decide which type is right for you: a union apprenticeship or a non-union apprenticeship. Union apprenticeships require joining the union and paying dues. This type of training is based on well-defined job duties and predictable wage increases. Non-union apprenticeships can be completed under any non-union licensed plumber or through a non-union trade organization. These apprenticeships have less defined job duties and often pay less than union programs.
In Maine, you can find an apprenticeship through the Maine Apprenticeship Program, which offers a full list of available programs. If you are interested in a union apprenticeship, UA Local 716 in Augusta has a program for aspiring plumbers.
Potential Certifications for Career Specialization
Acquiring certifications can help you advance your career by focusing on specialized skills. There are many areas in which a plumber might seek additional qualifications. A few examples are Plumbing Plans Examiner, Certified Plumbing Design Technician and UPC Journeyman Plumber.
Career Growth and Salaries
The ongoing career potential for plumbers is positive, with an expected growth rate of 13.7 percent nationwide between 2018 and 2028. Unfortunately, the predicted growth in Maine is in stark contrast with the rest of the country, as a decline of 1.3 percent is expected over the same period.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Maine plumbers brought home an average annual salary of $50,970 in 2019, somewhat below the national average of $55,160 for this field.
Opportunities for Maine Plumbers
Since plumbers are needed in so many industries, the career possibilities are many and varied. As such, plumbers can find work in private or public sector businesses or even run a business of their own. Additionally, having the ability to acquire specialized training and certifications will give you the opportunity to move your career in a new direction at any given time. Regardless of your goals, a career as a plumber could provide you the leverage you need to succeed.
Possible employers in Maine include TradeSource, The State of Maine, Medix Group, The Army National Guard, Zoom Drain and Biddeford School Department.