Becoming a Plumber in North Carolina

Plumbers provide a vital service by designing, installing and repairing the plumbing 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.

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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.

Plumbing Schools 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, 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 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.

Additional Certifications

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

In North Carolina, the average annual wage for these workers is $47,220, which is lower than the national average of $60,090. The lowest 10% of earners in North Carolina make $33,890 or less, while the highest 10% earn $65,650 or more.

National vs. North Carolina Salary Comparison

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $37,250 $60,090 $101,190
North Carolina $33,890 $47,220 $65,650

Salaries by Regions in North Carolina

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC $36,890 $49,750 $69,410
Raleigh, NC $36,400 $48,810 $70,700
Greensboro-High Point, NC $35,210 $47,150 $63,430

Plumbing Trends in North Carolina

The employment trends for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters in North Carolina indicate a robust growth rate. In 2020, the state employed approximately 14,690 individuals in these trades. By 2030, this number is expected to increase to 16,630, reflecting a 13% growth. This growth rate is significantly higher than the national average. Annually, North Carolina is projected to have about 1,780 job openings in this field from 2020 to 2030, due to both new jobs and replacement needs.

Comparatively, the national employment growth for these professions is projected at only 2% from 2022 to 2032, with the number of employees increasing 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
North Carolina 14,690 (2020) 16,630 (2030) 13% 1,780
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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