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.

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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.
  • 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

This overview compares the salaries in Michigan against the national averages, highlighting higher wages in Michigan across various percentiles.

National vs. Michigan Salary Comparison

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $37,250 $60,090 $101,190
Michigan $36,370 $63,770 $90,690

Salaries by Regions in Michigan

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Ann Arbor, MI $37,900 $76,480 $96,650
Balance of Lower Peninsula of Michigan nonmetropolitan area $27,990 $47,890 $76,870
Battle Creek, MI $32,080 $58,660 $85,170
Bay City, MI $36,060 $57,860 $81,720

Plumbing Trends in Michigan

The employment trends for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters in Michigan indicate a positive growth outlook. In 2020, the employment in this sector stood at 12,560 individuals. By 2030, it is projected to increase to 13,560, reflecting an 8% growth rate. Michigan is expected to have about 1,420 job openings each year from 2020 to 2030, attributed to both growth and replacement needs.

In comparison, the national growth rate for these professions is projected at a more modest 2% from 2022 to 2032, with employment rising from 482,700 to 493,600, and an average of 42,600 projected annual job openings.


Region Employment (Start Year) Projected Employment (End Year) Projected Growth (%) Annual Job Openings
Michigan 12,560 (2020) 13,560 (2030) 8% 1,420
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.

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