Becoming a Plumber in Oklahoma
Plumbing is one of America’s oldest and most respected professional trades. That’s true because, in one way or another, people from all walks of life rely on the skills of plumbers. Such skills include installation of both commercial- and residential-grade water, gas and sewer pipes. They also include commercial- and residential-grade maintenance and repair for existing pipes.
Oklahoma is just as reliant on plumbing services as any other state in the nation. For this reason, many people in the state consider working as plumbers. If you’re one of those people, you’ll need to know how plumbers receive training and licensing in Oklahoma. For a solid overview of the state’s plumbing industry, just take a few minutes to read through this introductory guide.
What Are the Plumber Training and Licensing Requirements in Oklahoma?
The Oklahoma Construction Industries Board (CIB) is responsible for setting the state’s standards for working plumbers. The CIB provides all licensing for apprentice plumbers. It also provides two types of licenses for experienced plumbers:
- Plumbing journeyman
- Plumbing contractor
To work as an apprentice or plumbing helper in Oklahoma, you must register with the CIB. In addition, you must be supervised by a licensed journeyman or contractor. Every hour you work at this level will help you meet the requirements for working as a plumbing journeyman.
Journeymen can work as supervisors on plumbing jobs, but they can’t own their own businesses. There are several ways to fulfill the main requirements for a journeyman’s license. Your options include:
- Working as a registered apprentice for at least three years
- Gaining an equivalent amount of experience while enrolled in the military
- Holding a current out-of-state license that meets Oklahoma’s standards
You can also replace part of your practical experience requirement with a diploma from a CIB-approved plumber training program. With your qualifications in order, you can sit for your plumbing journeyman’s exam.
Oklahoma plumbing contractors can own their own businesses and hire other plumbers. To work as a contractor, you must hold a journeyman’s license. You must also work at the journeyman level for a minimum of one year.
Plumbing programs may cover some of the following topics:
- Plumbing systems
- Plumbing fixtures
- Plumbing mathematics
- Water supply systems
- Sewage pumps
Plumbing Schools in Oklahoma
Instead of apprenticing directly with an Oklahoma plumbing contractor, you can enroll in one of the state’s apprenticeship programs. Providers of these programs include:
- Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 344 Training Center – Local 344 offers paid apprentice training in Oklahoma City. The training program takes five years to complete and provides you with the background required to work as a journeyman. Your salary increases every year of the program.
- Mid-Del Technology Center – Mid-Del is based in Midwest City. While enrolled in this organization’s program, you’ll receive 900 hours of apprentice-level training. The CIB will count this time toward your journeyman qualifications. Mid-Del offers both daytime and evening classes.
- Wes Watkins Technology Center – This organization is based in Wetumka. Its plumbing program provides a total of more than 1,000 hours of instruction. In addition to plumbing-related topics, the program includes introductory modules on carpentry and electrical work.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is one of the many U.S. states that require plumbers to serve some sort of apprenticeship. Apprenticeships serve two important purposes. First, they help ensure that you start your career by practicing essential skills crucial to all plumbers. In addition, apprenticeships help make sure that the general public enjoys access to well-trained plumbing professionals.
In Oklahoma, all working plumbers must follow guidelines established by the state’s Construction Industries Board. This board licenses apprentices as well as journeyman plumbers and plumbing contractors. Contractors are experienced journeymen who work independently and have the right to employ other plumbers.
There are two options for apprenticing as a plumber in Oklahoma. First, you can go to work for a licensed plumbing contractor. You can also spend part of your time in a formal apprenticeship program.
Apprentices who work for three years can obtain their journeyman status. However, you can skip apprenticeship altogether if you served in the military and gained equivalent plumbing experience. Out-of-state journeyman status is also transferrable to Oklahoma.
If you choose a formal apprenticeship program, your options include a range of in-state providers. One such provider is Midwest City’s Mid-Del Technology Center. This organization offers apprentices a full 900 hours of practical training and supporting knowledge. You may also choose Oklahoma City’s Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 344 Training Center. Like many union apprenticeships, this program is five years long and includes wages. To offset your time commitment, you can expect increasing pay as you gain experience.
Potential Income for Plumbers in Oklahoma
The average licensed plumber in Oklahoma makes almost $47,000 annually. This is close to $8,000 below the national average for the field. Most of the state’s plumbers make an income somewhere between $43,000 and $63,000. Newly licensed plumbers can make salaries that fall below $28,000. However, top earnings for Oklahoma plumbers exceed $88,000.
Future Employment Prospects for Plumbers
The plumbing, pipe fitting and steam fitting professions are in the early stages of a decade of projected 11 percent growth. This level of expanded employment beats the norm for all U.S. professions by a substantial amount. What does that mean for you as an Oklahoma plumber? Life is unpredictable, so no one can promise you future employment. However, robust growth in your industry likely means that well-qualified plumbers will continue to find work opportunities.