How to Become a Plumber in New Mexico
Have you been searching for a hands-on career with a good salary and growth potential? If so, you might want to consider a career as a plumber. Plumbing infrastructure is essential to modern living and can be found in nearly everything from residences and commercial buildings to hospitals and factories. All of these systems need regular maintenance and repair, making a plumber’s livelihood look promising for a long time into the future.
Plumbers work in a wide variety of industries, both in the public and private sectors. The work requires a vast knowledge of building materials and local building codes. Plumbers hold a great deal of responsibility and will need to know which types of materials to use to ensure the systems they install are safe for use.
Certain skills will be essential for plumbers, notably, physical stamina, manual dexterity and a good eye for detail. Plumbers often need to access systems in difficult-to-reach, low visibility areas. Under these conditions, they will need to visually inspect piping systems for problems and decide which components need replacing. Communication skills will also be required, especially for those who need to work with clients regularly.
Licensing in New Mexico
Plumbers in New Mexico must be licensed to practice. Licenses can be secured through the New Mexico Licensing and Regulation Department under the Mechanical Bureau. You will be required to show proof of two years working in the field plus be able to pass an exam.
New Mexico Training Programs for Plumbers
There are many training programs in New Mexico for those who wish to become plumbers. Prior to applying for a certified training program, you will need to have acquired a high school diploma or equivalent. Once completed, you can apply for one of the following programs:
- Santa Fe Community College offers a Plumbing Certificate. Students will learn to install systems from blueprints as well as provide maintenance and repairs.
- Central New Mexico Community College offers both an Associate of Applied Science degree and a Certificate of Completion in Plumbing and Gas Fitting. Students will learn to install, repair and maintain common residential and commercial plumbing and piping systems.
- New Mexico State University’s Doña Ana Community College offers a Certificate of Completion in Plumbing.
- Navajo Technical University offers a Construction Technology Program. Students will learn construction techniques, leadership skills and building codes, along with the basics of plumbing.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in New Mexico
If you are interested in working as a plumber in New Mexico, you will need to learn the trade first. The best way to do that is an apprenticeship, which means training under a licensed plumber while also getting paid. Most apprenticeship programs in New Mexico last at least four years.
There are several avenues you can take when applying for an apprenticeship in New Mexico. If it is a union-sponsored program that you are looking for, the UA Local 412 in Albuquerque is the leading union for plumbers and pipefitters in the state. This is a state-approved program, and you must be 18 years old and a high school graduate or hold the equivalent of a diploma to apply.
If you want a more educational based program, you might be interested in one of these:
- Santa Fe Community College— At Santa Fe Community College, you have the option of earning a 28-credit hour plumbing certificate or a two-year Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Building Science and Construction Technologies.
- Central New Mexico Community College— Central New Mexico Community College offers similar options. They have a 38-credit hour certificate of completion in plumbing and gasfitting and a two-year A.A.S. degree in plumbing and gas fitting.
Other apprenticeship opportunities in the state include The Associated Builders and Contractors of New Mexico (ABC NM). This program lasts for four years and comprises 8,000 work hours with classes two nights a week. TLC Plumbing in Albuquerque and Santa Fe has a four-year educational and job training program. The company pays for the tuition for the academic requirements if the apprentice meets all their requirements.
Additionally, you can explore more apprenticeship possibilities through the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions‘ apprenticeship office.
The Potential for Certification
While not necessary to practice, plumbers have a number of various certifications for which they can apply. A few examples of these include Plumbing Plans Examiner, UPC Journeyman Plumber and Medical Gas Maintenance. Acquiring such certificates can help you to qualify for specialized job offerings or give your business an edge by filling a niche area.
Wages and Job Growth Expectations in New Mexico
Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2019 showed an average annual salary for plumbers in the state of $46,280. A range of wages from $28,460 to $67,290 means you will have great potential to increase your earnings with experience.
This career continues to grow, with Projections Central citing an expected 13.9 percent job growth rate between 2018 and 2028.
Working as a Plumber in New Mexico
Acquiring the skills and education of a plumber is a great way to open the door to a secure future. With organizations like Albuquerque Public Schools, Universal Water Systems, the City of Las Cruces, Lowe’s Home Improvement and the Army National Guard recruiting for plumbers, it is easy to see how many opportunities this career can afford. From public and private sector jobs to home-based business ownership, working as a plumber has a lot of appeal.