How to Become a Plumber in Minnesota
Every day, residences and businesses in Minnesota remain functional with the help of trained plumbers. That’s true because plumbing professionals provide a range of high-demand services. In new buildings, these services include the installation of water, sewer and gas lines. In existing buildings, plumbers regularly make a broad range of small and large repairs.
If you’re looking for a rewarding field of work in Minnesota, plumbing stands out for a couple of reasons. First, plumbers who do their jobs well can expect to become valued members of their communities. In addition, experienced plumbers working in the state can look forward to generous salaries. If all of that sounds interesting to you, here’s what you need to know to enter the plumbing profession.
Minnesota Training and Licensing Requirements for Plumbers
Unlike many states, Minnesota does not require all legally employed plumbers to obtain an official license. However, if you plan to work without a license, you still must follow state procedures. These procedures require you to register as an unlicensed plumber with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry. They also require you to work only under the direct oversight of a properly licensed plumber.
There are two main groups of licensed plumbers in Minnesota: journeyworkers and masters. To acquire either one of these licenses, you must take a state exam. You have several options for qualifying to take the journeyworker’s exam. These options include:
- Working as a registered, unlicensed plumber in Minnesota for four years or more
- Completing an apprenticeship course approved by the state
- Holding a current license from another state that meets Minnesota’s requirements for journeyworkers
You also have several options for qualifying to take the master plumber’s exam. These include:
- Working as licensed journeyworker for one year or longer
- Holding a master’s license from a state that has requirements at least as tough as Minnesota’s
All plumbers working in the state must be 18 or older. Before you can sit for a licensing exam, you must get your employers to vouch for your claimed level of experience. To keep your journeyworker’s or master’s license, you must periodically take continuing education courses.
Plumbing training programs may cover some of the following topics:
- Plumbing codes
- Water supply
- Water heaters
- Standard repair of cooling and heating fixtures
- Plumbing fixtures
- Blueprint reading
While various plumbing degrees and a technical education will be greatly beneficial, there are other paths to becoming a plumber in Minnesota. You can become an apprentice and work with a licensed plumbing contractor to learn the trade.
Plumbing Schools in Minnesota
A variety of Minnesota institutions provide training for would-be plumbers. If you’re interested in a plumbing program, consider one of the following options:
- St. Cloud Technical & Community College – Saint Cloud Technical College trains newcomers to seek work as unlicensed apprentices. Coursework includes hands-on development of core plumbing skills. In addition, you will do such things as study the state’s plumbing code, perform plumbing calculations and get familiar with reading plumbing blueprints.
- St. Paul College – Saint Paul College also caters to people hoping to work as apprentice plumbers. During your enrollment, you’ll learn practical skills for residential, commercial and industrial projects. This program will prepare students to take the state’s journey worker exam.
- Plumbers Local 15 – This Minneapolis-based union offers a full slate of training for apprentice plumbers. All instructors are industry-certified. Classes are held at the Dunwoody College of Technology.
- Hennepin Technical College: Located in Brooklyn Park, offers a pre-apprenticeship program which This program is designed to train plumbing students to start working as apprentices in plumbing and pipefitting under the supervision of a plumbing contractor.
Financial aid may be available to those who qualify. Contact the financial office at the institute you are interested in for more information.
Working as an Apprentice Plumber in Minnesota
Apprenticeship is a common path to becoming a plumber. An apprenticeship is a training opportunity that also provides a salary. You work with a master plumber, either in a union or non-union setting, earning an income and learning the job skills.
In an apprenticeship in Minnesota, you’ll learn the basics of installing, maintaining and repairing plumbing systems. Once you have enough hours of training, you can apply to become a licensed journeyman plumber, which leads to becoming a master plumber.
The state of Minnesota does not have a prescribed process for becoming a plumber, nor does it require that you become licensed. Unlicensed plumbers must still follow state guidelines, register with the Department of Labor and Industry, and work under the supervision of a licensed plumber.
Whether you choose to become licensed or not, your career as a plumber begins with training, and an apprenticeship is the best way to do it. The Department of Labor and Industry has a search tool to help you find a position as an apprentice.
You can also go directly to unions to apply for their apprenticeship programs. Examples include Plumbers Local 34 in Saint Paul and Plumbers Local 15 in Minneapolis. Contact the Minnesota Pipe Trades Association for access to opportunities through the state’s Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee.
Many apprenticeship programs will take applicants right out of high school, but an alternative is to start with plumbing courses at a community college. St. Cloud Technical and Community College offers a diploma and associate degree in plumbing.
Earnings Potential for Minnesota Plumbers
The average journeyworker in Minnesota makes about $50,00 a year. However, salaries vary over a wide range, from a low in the $40,000s to a high near $70,000. The average master plumber makes close to $80,000 a year. Again, salaries vary widely. At the low end, some masters make salaries in the $40,000s. The highest salaries for master plumbers are in the $100,000s.
Plumbing Jobs in Minnesota
When you’re considering a new profession, job security is a big concern. Fortunately, employment opportunities for plumbers are growing at a rapid pace. Federal labor projections predict that there will be over 60,000 more openings for plumbers and related workers nationwide in 2030 than there were in 2020. Very view sectors of employment in America can match this kind of growth.