Becoming a Plumber in Nebraska

Plumbing is without doubt one of America’s most essential construction and repair trades. Regardless of their size, all of the nation’s many communities depend on the knowledge and experience of plumbing professionals. In fact, if these professionals stopped working for just a single week, many U.S. households and businesses would lose their ability to function.

Plumbers’ skills are just as valued in Nebraska as they are in larger or more populous states. However, Nebraska does not use a typical process for licensing plumbers. Want to know more about the state’s guidelines for joining the plumbing trade? This brief overview will provide you with the information you need.

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Nebraska’s Training and Licensing Rules for Plumbers

In most states, a single state-level agency is responsible for regulating the plumbing profession. However, Nebraska breaks from this norm. To work as a plumber, you don’t need to apply for a statewide license. Instead, you must follow the rules that apply in your specific part of Nebraska.

In some of the state’s most heavily populated areas, you must get a local license before working as a plumber. That includes the largest city, Omaha. In Omaha, to start working as an apprentice plumber, you must get a permit from the city’s Planning Department. Apprentices must work with a licensed plumber for at least four years. Each year, they must accumulate at least 1,750 hours of experience.

When you finish your apprenticeship, you can take your journeyman plumber’s exam. You can also take this exam if you meet your training requirement in any of several other ways. After working for four straight years as a journeyman, you can take your master plumber’s exam. You can also take this exam if you provide alternate proof of your master-level plumbing skills.

Omaha also issues permits for several plumbing-related specialties including:

  • Lawn sprinkler installation
  • Lawn sprinkler contracting
  • Sewer laying
  • Sewer and drain cleaning
  • Water conditioning installation
  • Water conditioning contracting

You may also need a license to work as a plumber in other Nebraska communities. These communities include Lincoln, the state capital. Check your local jurisdiction to see which rules apply in your area.

Be aware that Nebraska does require state-level registration for plumbing contractors. Contractors operate their own businesses and work on residential and commercial building projects.

Plumbing Schools in Nebraska

Even with the lack of a statewide licensing requirement, plumber training is important in Nebraska. Well-trained plumbers understand their profession and know how to perform at a high level. In turn, quality performance gives you an edge over less-skilled candidates for open plumbing positions. Consider one of the following plumbing programs:

  • Metropolitan Community College – This Omaha-based institution offers a four-year apprenticeship program. Graduates of this program qualify to take the city’s journeyman plumber exam.
  • Northeast Community College – Norfolk-based Northeast offers a Plumbing Technology degree. While earning this degree, you’ll receive classroom and practical training in both residential and commercial plumbing.
  • Plumbers Local Union No. 16 – This union offers an apprenticeship program that exceeds the standards of the City of Omaha. All participants spend 1,200 hours in a classroom environment. In addition, they work on real-world job sites for as many as 10,000 total hours.

Plumbing Apprenticeships in Nebraska

If you plan to work in the plumbing industry, you may need to enroll in an apprenticeship that helps you hone your skills. Some states make participation in an apprentice program a universal prerequisite for taking a job. However, other states let local jurisdictions set their own rules for minimum plumber training.

In Nebraska, apprenticeships are not mandatory at a statewide level. Still, some cities and counties do make you begin your work career as an apprentice. For example, in Omahayou need an apprentice’s permit before you can legally work. Permits are issued by the local Planning Department. You must serve your apprenticeship under a licensed plumber for no less than four years. All apprentices must gain 1,750 hours or more of experience during every working year.

After you’ve met your apprentice qualifications, you have the opportunity to earn your journeyman plumber’s license. However, Omaha also lets you become a journeyman without completing an apprenticeship. That’s possible only if you have equivalent experience in the plumbing field.

Where can you find plumbing apprenticeships in Nebraska? One potential source is Omaha’s Plumbers Local Union No. 16.This program provides thousands of hours of on-the-job training. It also provides more than a thousand hours of classroom instruction.

People living in Omaha can also seek apprenticeships through Metropolitan Community College. In addition, there are options available outside the Omaha area. One such option is Northeast Community College in Norfolk. This school features a Plumbing Technology program.

Earnings Potential for Nebraska Plumbers

The data from O*NET Online illustrates the wage landscape for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters in Nebraska, showing that workers in this field have an average annual wage of $56,920. This figure is slightly below the national average wage of $60,090. The lowest 10% of earners in Nebraska make $34,570 or less, while the top 10% earn up to $92,570.

National vs. Nebraska Salary Comparison

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $37,250 $60,090 $101,190
Nebraska $34,570 $56,920 $92,570

Salaries by Regions in Nebraska

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA $37,490 $64,480 $93,280
Lincoln, NE $35,210 $49,550 $81,230
Grand Island, NE $35,340 $49,670 $81,440
Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Omaha-Council Bluffs, NE-IA $37,490 $64,480 $93,280
Lincoln, NE $35,210 $49,550 $81,230
Grand Island, NE $35,340 $49,670 $81,440

Plumbing Trends in Nebraska

The employment trends for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters in Nebraska indicate a steady growth. In 2020, the state employed approximately 3,990 individuals in these occupations. By 2030, this number is projected to increase to 4,320, representing an 8% growth rate. Annually, from 2020 to 2030, Nebraska is expected to have about 450 job openings due to growth and replacements.

This growth rate in Nebraska is significantly higher than the national average, which 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
Nebraska 3,990 (2020) 4,320 (2030) 8% 450
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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