Becoming a Plumber in North Dakota

Most people spend very little time considering how important plumbing is to modern society. More than just the piping that connects your home to water and sewage systems, plumbing provides gas for cooking and heat and is a major component in air conditioning systems. However, plumbing isn’t just a residential resource.

Piping systems are used in medical facilities to bring medical-grade gasses to the patient’s bedside or operating room, allowing them to receive lifesaving treatments. It is also essential in manufacturing, as a transport system for various industrial gasses and chemicals as are used in some types of pressurized systems. The good news for anyone considering a plumbing career is that all of these vital systems need to be installed, maintained, repaired and occasionally rebuilt.

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So, what does it take to work as a plumber? The plumbing trade requires a great deal of physical stamina, as the work is generally strenuous and includes working with heavy tools and machinery. Plumbers often need to crawl or slide into tight, dimly-lit spaces to inspect piping for problems and complete repairs. The job may require long shifts, especially for those working as residential or commercial contractors.

It will be imperative for those who wish to pursue business ownership to acquire some necessary business skills such as marketing, management and accounting. Contractors often need to provide accurate estimates to clients or prepare bids for large projects. Communication skills are essential for all plumbers, as they will often need to coordinate with clients and other skilled tradespeople.

Plumbing Licenses in North Dakota

Before working as a plumber in North Dakota, you will need to acquire a license through the North Dakota State Plumbing Board. There are three levels of licenses for plumbers in the state: Apprentice Plumber, Journeyman Plumber and Master Plumber. Anyone engaged in plumbing as a primary occupation will to apply for whichever license is appropriate for their experience level.

Plumbing Schools in North Dakota

Plumbing schools typically offer training in one of two ways, through an apprenticeship or a plumbing program. In either case, before beginning training, a high school diploma or equivalent will be required. If an apprenticeship feels like the right choice for you, you can search for an appropriate match in your area.

Consider one of the following plumbing programs:

  • North Dakota State College of Science, with campuses in Whapeton and Fargo, offers a Certificate in Plumbing. Students will prepare for a career in plumbing through hands-on lab instruction and design courses.
  • Turtle Mountain Community College in Belcourt offers a Certificate in Plumbing Technology. Students will learn entry-level skills in plumbing, including instruction with hand and power tools, installation practices and choosing the proper materials.

Finding a Plumbing Apprenticeship Opportunity in North Dakota

Are you a North Dakota resident and interested in becoming a plumber? If so, you will first need to become a plumbing apprentice. Plumbing apprentices in North Dakota need to be registered through the North Dakota State Plumbing Board within 30 days of starting their apprenticeship and work at least 1,900 hours per year for four years.

Working as an apprentice means earning a salary while gaining valuable career training. This type of training has a significant advantage over other types of career training, which often leave the participant in debt upon completion. However, overcoming the financial barriers to education isn’t the only benefit of apprentice training. Apprentices are also able to experience the day-to-day life of working in the trade, while gaining priceless knowledge learned from the experience of the journeyman and master plumbers they assist on the job. 

In choosing an apprenticeship, you will need to decide if a union or a non-union apprenticeship is a better fit for you. If you would like to participate in a union apprenticeship, you will be required to join the union and pay regular dues but will be paid a higher salary. Non-union apprentices have opportunities to learn a broader range of skills compared to the unions’ strict division of labor.

For union apprenticeships in North Dakota, you can check out the Building Trades Unions Registered Apprenticeship website or apply through UA Local 300. For a non-union apprenticeship, try the North Dakota State College of Science

Career Growth and Earning Potential

In North Dakota have an average annual wage of $58,260, which is slightly below the national average of $60,090. The lowest 10% of earners in North Dakota make $38,090 or less, while the top 10% earn up to $80,550, which is also lower than the national top earners.

National vs. North Dakota Salary Comparison

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $37,250 $60,090 $101,190
North Dakota $38,090 $58,260 $80,550

Salaries by Regions in North Dakota

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Bismarck, ND $40,840 $57,290 $78,110
Fargo, ND-MN $42,300 $59,910 $81,810
Grand Forks, ND-MN $38,230 $56,420 $74,840

Plumbing Trends in North Dakota

The employment trends for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters in North Dakota are showing a strong growth trajectory. In 2020, there were 1,560 workers in these trades within the state. This number is expected to rise to 1,920 by 2030, indicating a 23% growth rate. Annually, from 2020 to 2030, North Dakota is projected to have about 210 job openings due to growth and replacements.

This growth rate is significantly higher than the national average, which is projected at only 2% from 2022 to 2032, increasing from 482,700 to 493,600 employees, with an average of 42,600 projected annual job openings.


Region Employment (Start Year) Projected Employment (End Year) Projected Growth (%) Annual Job Openings
North Dakota 1,560 (2020) 1,920 (2030) 23% 210
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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