Becoming a Plumber in Pennsylvania
Due to the prevalence of plumbing systems in every aspect of society, plumbers have a lot of potential for a versatile and lucrative career. If you’ve been considering a career as a plumber, you might wish to know more about what the job entails and how to get started in the field. This article has all the information you need to begin.
Although you might think of plumbing as the system that brings water into your home and moves waste away, plumbing systems are used for many other purposes. Services like gas delivery, air conditioning and heating all rely on a network of pipes that require regular maintenance. Piping systems are also used in medical facilities to deliver medical-grade gasses and in industrial facilities for welding and other purposes. Along with all of these varied uses for plumbing comes a plethora of opportunity for plumbers.
As a plumber, you will need to have a good eye for detail as well as manual dexterity and physical stamina. The work often involves working in dark, tight spaces while using tools to find and fix a problem. If you wish to run a business, you will need to have excellent communication skills and understand basic business management. In some scenarios, especially for those who work independently or run a business, you will frequently need to prepare accurate estimates for plumbing repairs.
Licensing for Pennsylvania Plumbers
At this time, plumbers are not required to be licensed by the state of Pennsylvania. However, many areas have local regulations that do require licensure. It will be imperative to check the legal requirements in the localities in which you wish to provide services by contacting the local building department.
Pennsylvania Training Programs for Plumbers
Training as a plumber can take the form of an apprenticeship, an in-person training program or a combination of the two. For those looking to train as an apprentice, you will want to search for openings in your area. For others, who prefer to attend a program, Pennsylvania has many options. A few of these include:
- Luzerne Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning Technology.
- Community College of Alleghany County offers a Plumbing Certificate Program.
- Delaware County Community College provides a Plumbing Apprenticeship Certificate and a Plumbing Technology Certificate.
- Lancaster County Career and Technology Center offers a course in plumbing.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in Pennsylvania
Plumbers are some of America’s most widely employed skilled trade workers. While experienced professionals do much of the work, the industry also includes plenty of beginners or apprentices. Over time, these newcomers gain the abilities needed to advance in the field.
While apprenticeships may be formalized under statewide rules, that’s not always the case. For example, in Pennsylvania, no such rules exist. Instead, the state features a patchwork of requirements put in place at the county or municipal level. This means that you’ll need to check local regulations in order to know how to proceed. It also means that you should prepare to meet all local requirements.
No matter where you live in Pennsylvania, it’s a good idea to get as much knowledge under your belt as possible. Community colleges in many parts of the state offer suitable programs for plumbing training. One option you may want to consider is Delaware County Community College. This school features a broad-ranging, four-year plumbing apprenticeship program. The program covers both practical skills and theoretical knowledge. A second potential option is Community College of Allegheny County. CCACoffers a plumber apprenticeship certificate program, as well as a plumber’s associate degree program.
Union-based plumber’s apprenticeships are also available in Pennsylvania. If you live in the western part of the state, check the resources provided by the Builders Guild of Western PA. This organization features programs offered by two area plumbers’ unions.
There are no specific certifications to work as a plumber, but those in the field do have the opportunity to attain certifications in order to perform specialized functions. For example, a plumber can certify to be a building inspector or examine plumbing plans. For anyone looking for a specific job or career niche, these certifications are worth considering.
Salary Expectations and Career Growth Potential
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the 2019 average annual wages for plumbers in the state were on par with the national average, at $59,990. Data from the same year reported a range of salaries from $33,770 to $100,970.
As for the potential for career growth, long-term projections predict an increase of 9.7 percent in the next 10 years. This data translates to around 2,080 job openings annually in Pennsylvania.
Working as a Plumber in Pennsylvania
Qualified plumbers can find work in various facilities in both the private and public sectors, or you can own and operate your own business. In Pennsylvania, plumbers work for organizations like Danville State Hospital, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Septa, County of Berk and Aerotek. With varied opportunities and excellent potential for future growth, a career as a plumber might be the answer to your career goals.