Becoming a Plumber in North Carolina
Plumbers provide a vital service by designing, installing and repairing the systems that keep modern society running. Usually thought of as a transportation system for water and sewage, plumbing infrastructure is essential to many other applications. These include systems for transporting natural gas for heat and systems that carry gasses for medical and industrial uses.
So, what can a career as a plumber do for you? With so many industries needing plumbers to keep crucial systems running, acquiring training in the field can open the door to myriad opportunities. Plumbers also have a lot of versatility and can choose their employment opportunities, from full-time to part-time to self-employed.
Working as a plumber requires good physical stamina and manual dexterity. Plumbers often have to work in small spaces and will need to inspect pipes for problems. With training, a plumber will be able to identify which pipes need to be replaced and know which are the best materials for various projects.
Communication skills will be a must for most plumbers, especially those who choose to own a business. Plumbers often need to produce estimates for clients and will need to know how to measure and price materials accurately. Preparing and reading blueprints is another essential skill, as is an updated knowledge of building codes.
North Carolina Licensing Requirements for Plumbers
North Carolina does have a licensing requirement for plumbers, which can be acquired through the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire, Sprinkler Contractors. There are several types of licenses, allowing plumbers to work in different areas. To obtain a license, you will need to pass an examination and background check.
Training for Plumbers in North Carolina
Prior to attending training, you will need to have acquired a high school diploma or GED equivalent. With this necessary prerequisite, it will be possible to train through an apprenticeship or a training program. A few of the many programs available in North Carolina include:
- Guilford Technical Community College offers a Plumbing Certificate. Students will learn the basics of plumbing, along with state code requirements.
- Fayetteville Technical Community College offers both a Plumbing Diploma and a Plumbing Certificate. The program is designed to meet the requirements for a North Carolina Plumbing Contractor License.
- Cleveland Community College offers a Plumbing Diploma. Students will learn to work on many typical projects such as natural gas systems, water distribution and pipe installation.
For those wishing to train through an apprenticeship position,Apprenticeship.gov is a helpful resource.
How to Get a Plumbing Apprenticeship in North Carolina
Plumbers play an essential role in how we live day-to-day. When the water doesn’t work, when you can’t flush a toilet, a plumber comes to the rescue. This is a skilled trade, so learning hands-on from a master in the trade is the best way to get into the industry.
In North Carolina, the State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating, and Fire Sprinkler Contractors licenses plumbers at several levels. To begin working as a plumbing technician, you must have 3,000 hours of on-the-job experience and pass an exam.
The best way to get the experience needed for licensing is to work as an apprentice. An apprentice plumber works under a licensed plumber, learning the trade while earning an hourly salary.
Many of North Carolina’s community and technical colleges have plumbing certificate and diploma programs. These prepare students for landing an apprenticeship with a plumbing contractor. Guilford Technical Community College offers a certificate with hands-on learning and that takes just two semesters to complete.
The plumbing program at Fayetteville Technical Community College is associated with the Fayetteville Area Plumbing Contractor’s Association. Cleveland Community College in Shelby offers a plumbing diploma program that can be completed over two full-time semesters.
When you’re ready to apply for an apprenticeship, search online job sites for options. For instance, recent listings on Indeed.com include: apprentice plumber, Roto-Rooter Plumbing and Drain Service in Raleigh; plumber apprentice, Brothers Air, Heat & Plumbing in Charlotte; and plumbing apprentice, Bluewater Plumbing Service in Wilmington.
There is no requirement for plumbers to seek certification in addition to licensure. However, it should be mentioned that there are many different certifications a plumber can achieve. Depending on your career choices, additional certifications could qualify you for specific positions or provide a niche service for your business.
Salaries and Career Potential
According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), plumbers in North Carolina made an average annual salary of $45,070 in 2019. Although this compares somewhat unfavorably to the nationwide average salary for plumbers of $59,800, it may be important to consider the cost of living in the area in which you plan to work.
On a more positive note, the field is growing in the state to the tune of an expected 17.2 percent over the next ten years.
North Carolina Opportunities
Plumbers work in a variety of industries, holding positions in the public and private sectors alike. In North Carolina, opportunity can be found at organizations like Morris-Jenkins, TradeSource and the State of North Carolina. Wherever you choose to begin your career, working as a plumber holds excellent potential for the future.