How to Become a Plumber in Michigan
A career in plumbing is stable and comes with a great salary. Plumbers earn a good living because this is a skilled trade that requires training and licensing. People will always need plumbers, so you can expect great job security in this industry as well.
Plumbers in Michigan mostly work for contractors to install, inspect, repair and maintain plumbing systems, in residential homes, public buildings and commercial buildings. They read blueprints and have a deep understanding of state regulations and building codes. You do not need to earn a college degree to become a plumber, but you must go through some type of training and apprenticeship.
What You Need to Be a Plumber in Michigan
Plumbers in Michigan must be licensed, and the path to earning that credential begins with finishing high school. You should have a diploma or a GED, and it is beneficial to have taken classes in math and science.
After high school, look for an apprenticeship. You’ll mostly find these offered through local plumbers’ unions and community or vocational colleges. You can earn a certificate or diploma, but it isn’t required.
Through the apprenticeship, you will work with master plumbers, training and learning while earning a salary for two to six years. Upon the completion of the apprenticeship, you can apply for a journey plumber license and later a master plumber or contractor license.
Plumbing Schools in Michigan
Check with the nearest plumbers’ union to see if they offer an apprenticeship program. Find out the requirements for being accepted, as these programs are usually competitive. Also look at local community colleges, which often have academic programs paired with apprenticeships. Here are some examples of options in Michigan:
- Plumbers 98 and MCA Detroit. This program has training facilities in Detroit, Madison Heights and Troy. To apply, you must be 18 or older, have a valid driver’s license, have a high school diploma or GED and pass a drug test and skills test. The program includes five years of paid training and college credits that you can apply toward an associate degree.
- UA Local 85. This union, based in Saginaw, requires that you be at least 18, live in the union’s region, have a diploma or GED and have a driver’s license and pass a skills and basic knowledge exam. The program lasts five years and includes five percent raises every six months.
- Macomb Community College. On the east side of the Detroit area, this college offers a plumbing and pipefitting academic and apprenticeship program. You can choose between earning a certificate or an associate degree, while also completing an apprenticeship.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in Michigan
Becoming a plumber means learning a trade. Plumbers are skilled professionals who install, maintain and repair systems in residential and commercial buildings. In Michigan, you must become licensed through the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) to work as a plumber.
LARA registers apprentices in plumbing and licenses journeymen and master plumbers. To get licensed, you must begin with an apprenticeship. This is a training program that allows you to work and earn a salary while learning from a master plumber. Once you complete an apprenticeship, you can apply to become a journeyman plumber and eventually a master plumber. Each level of licensing requires a certain number of working and training hours and a passing score on an exam.
These positions can be competitive, so it’s important to have good academic standing in high school and references. You can find apprenticeships through local unions, non-union plumbers, the state, and community colleges:
- Union apprenticeships. You can find unions throughout Michigan that offer apprenticeship positions. In southeast Michigan, contact the Plumbers 98 & MCA Detroit Training Center. In Lansing, Battle Creek and Jackson, apply with UA Local 333.
- Non-union apprenticeships. Search online job sites to find training with non-union plumbers. For instance, this listing for Quality Plumbing in Battle Creek offers $30/hour plus training.
- MiRoad2Work.org. The state of Michigan helps train and place apprentices in a variety of industries including plumbing.
- Community college. Many community and technical colleges in Michigan offer programs that combine classwork with apprenticeships, such as this one at Macomb Community College.
Licensing for Michigan Plumbers
Plumbers in Michigan must earn credentials through the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). The first step is to find an apprenticeship and register as an apprentice with LARA. There are then three levels of licensing you can earn after training as an apprentice:
- Journey Plumber. A journey plumber is the next level of licensing after completing an apprenticeship. To earn this license, you must have at least 6,000 hours of training. You also need to take and pass the journey plumber exam and pay a licensing fee.
- Master Plumber. After working at least 4,000 hours as a journey plumber, you can apply to become a master plumber. You must pass an exam and pay the license fee.
- Plumbing Contractor. To become a plumbing contractor, you must either be a master plumber or hire one to work for you. You must own a company, pass an exam and pay a fee for the license.
Career and Salary Outlook
Plumbing is an industry that is always in demand. Individuals and business owners will always need skilled, licensed plumbers to maintain and install systems. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that growth is very strong across the U.S. The number of jobs for plumbers is increasing at 8 percent.
According to the BLS, plumbers earn $59,880 per year on average, but the top earners make nearly $100,000. In Michigan, the average salary is $63,770 per year and $30.66 per hour, with the top 10 percent of plumbers in the state making more than $80,000 per year.
Finding Work as a Plumber in Michigan
Once you have become licensed as a plumber, finding work should not be difficult. Most plumbers work for a contracting company, but you may also find jobs as a freelancer or with the government. The bigger population centers in the state will have the most opportunities, including Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, but plumbers are needed everywhere.