Becoming a Plumber in New Jersey
Plumbing is one of those services that is invisible when it works and highly disruptive when it doesn’t. For this reason, plumbing is a career with good job security and compensation. Plumbers do more than bring running water to our buildings—they also work on heating, ventilation, air conditioning and gas systems. The role is very skilled and requires years of specialist training.
Requirements for Becoming a Plumber in New Jersey
Plumbing is an apprenticeable trade: You must progress through the apprentice and journeyman stages to get to the licensed master plumber stage. Trade unions such as the United Association of Plumbers New Jersey are the best way to undertake apprenticeship. You can also find apprenticeships at national website apprenticeship.gov. Successful applicants aged 18 or over who pay a small fee, have a high school diploma or general equivalency and pass a physical exam will be assigned to a master plumber, while attending regular classroom instruction.
You’ll be paid while you study and work, and your pay will increase yearly for the four to five years of your apprenticeship. You can also apply to a college or university—a four-year degree in mechanical, plumbing or sanitary engineering will bypass the apprenticeship requirement.
Once you’re done with your apprenticeship you can register officially as a journeyman. After four years as an apprentice and one year as a journeyman you can apply to take the master plumber exam. Upon passing this exam, you pay a $3,000 bond and can register as a master plumber. You’ll need to renew your license every three years and keep up with continuing professional education.
Training Courses and Educational Programs in New Jersey
Alongside the union-based apprenticeships and direct-application apprenticeships described above, there are training courses available throughout New Jersey that give you a good technical foundation and connect you to an apprenticeship. Here are a few examples:
- Based in Paterson, NJ, the HoHoKus School of Trade offers a plumbing course that takes nine months for day students and 18 months for evening students. This course trains in residential and light commercial plumbing skills, and graduates are qualified to be second-year apprentices. The school will help graduates obtain an apprenticeship.
- Based in Wayne, NJ, Passaic County Technical Institute offers an apprenticeship-based plumbing course for all four years of an apprenticeship. The 24-session course takes place in the evenings, making it ideal for busy apprentices who are working during the week.
- Located in Brick, NJ, Ocean County Vocational Technical School offers four years of plumbing instruction for apprentices as evening classes, in order to match up with the four years of your apprenticeship.
Becoming an Apprentice Plumber in New Jersey
Plumbers do much more than fix a leaky pipe or a broken toilet. They need to understand everything from water pressure to the detailed safety regulations for heating systems. Because so much goes into being a safe and competent plumber, most states—including New Jersey—closely regulate the industry by licensing plumbers. To become a licensed plumber in New Jersey, you’ll either need to undertake a four-year degree or an apprenticeship. You’ll also be required to pass a rigorous test organized by the state.
An apprentice is someone who commits to working with an employer for multiple years—four in the case of New Jersey—and receives a decent wage while learning about every aspect of the business from experienced journeyman and master plumbers. As an apprentice, you will be able to legally perform plumbing tasks under direct supervision and will quickly build your confidence in the field. You’ll also gain a good understanding of the types of customers in your area and will have the opportunity to establish working relationships with potential customers and coworkers.
Apprenticeships are highly competitive, so solid mathematical skills, a clean driver’s license and willingness to learn are essential. You can apply for apprenticeship positions with private companies—these are often found on job websites like Monster and Indeed. The United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters also organizes apprenticeships—for example, the Winslow, New Jersey chapter has a dedicated training center for apprentices. For most apprenticeships, you’ll spend some time in a classroom setting as well as applying your new skills at real-life worksites.
Registration and Licensing for Plumbers in New Jersey
While only a master plumber is licensed, apprentices and journeymen still need to register. All plumbers register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs by completing a form and paying a small fee. You’ll need to demonstrate your education and work experience and will require references to attest to your understanding of the trade, and you’ll need to pass an exam to be licensed as a master. Licenses must be renewed every three years, and plumbers need to undertake continuing education to keep themselves current with new developments in the trade.
Career Outlook and Salary Expectations
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of plumbing jobs across the country is expected to grow by 14 percent by 2028, much faster than average job growth.
In New Jersey, the median hourly wage for a plumber is over $32, with the median annual wage at nearly $68,000 per year. This is significantly higher than the national average for this field, at a bit over $55,000 per year.
Working as a Plumber in New Jersey
Plumbers can find work in domestic, commercial and industrial settings, whether they’re repairing systems or working on a new construction project. They can work for a firm or be self-employed—and given the in-demand nature of the work, they can choose stability or flexibility. In uncertain times, investing the resources to train as a plumber is a wise decision.