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.
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.
Licensing for Plumbers 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.
Training in North Dakota for Plumbers
Plumbers typically train in one of two ways, through an apprenticeship or a training course. 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 apprenticeship.gov for an appropriate match in your area.
For training programs in North Dakota, options include:
- 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
The trade is expected to continue growing over the next 10 years, with Projections Central predicting an 11.1 percent increase in positions in North Dakota. In job possibilities, this translates to an average of 210 openings yearly.
According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), plumbers in North Dakota brought home an average annual salary of $54,480 in 2019.
Plumbing Opportunities in North Dakota
Since plumbing is used in so many industries, plumbers can tailor their careers to their own needs. If your career goals include a full-time job with benefits, you might consider one of the many possible employers in North Dakota, including Medix Group, the Army National Guard, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Minot Public School District. For those who wish to have a little more freedom, the trade has great potential for small business ownership. Regardless of how you choose to use your skills, this career holds a great deal of promise for a stable and secure future.