How to Become a Plumber in Rhode Island

From small towns to huge metropolises, you’ll find plumbers on the job on any given day of the week. From plumbing installation to standard and emergency repairs on plumbing systems, these hardworking pros provide services that build and maintain plumbing systems that keep the nation’s infrastructure running. Such services can cover everything from water and sewer lines to gas lines and irrigation systems.

In Rhode Island, plumbers work at all levels of residential and commercial construction and repair. Their average salaries reflect the importance of the work they do. However, not just anyone can set up shop as a Rhode Island plumber. You can only work in this field if you follow the state’s established procedures. The information contained in this guide is designed to clarify these procedures and help you launch your new career.

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Rhode Island Plumbing License

All would-be plumbers and irrigation specialists in Rhode Island must follow rules set down by the state’s Division of Workforce Regulation and Safety. These rules require you to start out as an apprentice in an accredited training program. Once you begin, you have five years to complete your chosen apprenticeship. During that time, you must receive a total of 576 hours of training, including some plumbing theory. Graduates receive a completion certificate from the state’s Department of Labor and Training. This certificate allows you to sit for your journeyperson plumber’s or irrigator’s exam.

Rhode Island licenses both journeyperson and master plumbers and irrigators. To qualify as a journeyperson, you must show proof that you’ve received your 576 hours of instruction. In addition, you must work under a licensed plumber/irrigator for at least five years. To qualify as a master, you must meet all the standards for apprentice and journeyman plumbers or irrigators. You must also work as a journeyperson for at least a year and pass your master’s exam.

Rhode Island also offers a master contractor’s license. You must hold one of these licenses to operate a plumbing contractor business in the state. Every two years, you must re-register to renew your contractor’s license.

Plumbing Schools in Rhode Island

There are two aspects to apprentice plumber training in Rhode Island. First, you must take on a paid job with a plumber currently licensed in the state. Rhode Island’s Department of Labor and Training is responsible for operating the Registered Apprenticeship program. This plumbing program helps you connect with employers whose training meets state standards. Use its resources to find options in your area.

In addition, you must receive classroom instruction in plumbing from an accredited institution. Examples of institutions that offer accredited plumbing programs include:

  • The Rhode Island Master Plumber & Mechanical Association (RIMPMA) – RIMPMA’s nonprofit apprenticeship program covers the classroom topics needed to meet the requirements for apprentice certification. The organization also offers additional perks, such as training seminars and field trips to plumbing manufacturers. In addition, RIMPMA offers a pipefitting apprenticeship.
  • Community College of Rhode Island’s Division of Workforce Partnerships – CCRI has moved all of its coursework online to provide maximum safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The school provides classroom training as well as on the job training suitable for each year of your apprenticeship.

Plumbing Apprenticeships in Rhode Island

To perform at a professional level, working plumbers must be familiar with a wide range of concepts and procedures. How do plumbers gain this knowledge? In many states, the process of learning begins in an entry-level apprenticeship program. Rhode Island is one such state.

No plumber or irrigation specialist can legally work in Rhode Island without going through an apprenticeship. Current rulesstate that you can’t just go anywhere for your training. Instead, you must choose an approved, accredited program. All eligible programs must provide you with 576 hours of instruction. That instruction must include both hands-on training and classroom learning. Once you complete your apprenticeship, the state issues you a certificate. Only then can you take an exam to become a journeyperson plumber. In time, a journeyperson can go on to earn master status.

Rhode Island maintains an active list of accredited apprenticeships. The state also offers additional benefits for newcomers to the industry. You can fulfill the hands-on portion of your training while on the job with a participating employer. However, to fulfill your classroom requirement, you must enroll at an institution accredited by the state.

One such institution is Community College of Rhode Island. CCRI matches your classwork to each stage of your advancement as an apprentice. Another option is the Rhode Island Master Plumber & Mechanical Association. RIMPMA’sinstruction is non-profit, and focuses on the things you need to know to meet the state’s apprenticeship standards.

Range of Pay for Rhode Island Plumbers

Licensed plumbers in Rhode Island earn salaries that equal the national average of $60,000 a year. Most of the state’s plumbers have incomes that fall between the mid-$40,000s and the upper $60,000s. The lowest annual salaries (typical for newcomers) fall around $30,000. The highest exceed $95,000.

Employment Outlook for America’s Plumbers

Plumbing and the related professions of steam fitting and pipe fitting are in good health in the U.S. Overall, this sector of the labor pool will grow by roughly 2 percent in the decade that started in 2020. Such figures are exceptional and point to many thousands of new job openings in the years to come.

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