A Career as a Plumber in South Carolina

If you’ve been considering a career as a plumber, you might wish to know more about the profession and the opportunities it might present. As one of society’s most crucial infrastructures, plumbing can be found nearly everywhere, meaning plumbers can find work almost anywhere. With so many possibilities for employment, this career could easily be a lasting and lucrative choice.

In order to design, install, maintain and repair piping systems, plumbers will need to become experts in reading blueprints, diagnosing problems and choosing the right materials for each job. Extensive knowledge of local building codes will be essential, as will the ability to recognize faulty materials and decide which parts and materials need replacing. Plumbers often need to work in tight spaces while using the various tools of the trade. Welding is usually a requirement, as is measuring, cutting and drilling.

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Plumbers will need to have excellent communication skills as they are often tasked with communicating with clients and other contractors. Preparing estimates and bidding for jobs will be common, so it will be essential to know how to estimate the cost of a project accurately. Those who wish to work independently or run a business will also need basic business and marketing skills.

Licensing Requirements for South Carolina Plumbers

Plumbers in South Carolina will need to obtain a license through the Contractor’s Licensing Board. There are two types of licenses for which qualified individuals can apply, a Residential Specialty Contractor Plumbing License and a Commercial Contractor License. Applicants will need to be able to pass an examination in order to complete the process.

Training Programs in South Carolina

Plumbers receive training through participation in a training course, an apprenticeship or a combination of both. In either case, a high school diploma or equivalent is a required prerequisite. For a list of open apprenticeships in your area, this website will be useful.

A few of the training courses in South Carolina include:

  • York Technical College in Rock Hill offers courses in Building and Construction Trades. Students can choose a diploma in Air Conditioning/Refrigeration Mechanics or one of several certificates as an HVAC Installer, HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Systems Design and Residential/Commercial Plumbing.
  • Greenville Technical College in Greenville offers a Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning and Refrigeration course. Classes are available on either days or evenings to accommodate working students.

South Carolina Plumbing Apprenticeship Opportunities

If you are considering a career as a plumber, you will need to decide how to acquire the proper training. There is more than one path to learning the trade, including attending a training program through a local trade school or community college or entering directly into an apprenticeship program through a union or non-union trade organization. Regardless of which path you choose, you will need to participate in an apprenticeship to master the day-to-day tasks of a professional plumber. 

Apprenticeships place you in the position to work on a professional job site, assisting a master or journey-level plumber in their daily tasks. In the process, you will begin to perform increasingly tricky procedures under the supervision of a qualified plumber. This real-world experience is the hallmark of apprentice training, and allows those who undergo such training to become competent in all aspects of the trade. As an additional advantage to the apprentice, these positions are paid, allowing those who are training to earn a viable living wage. 

Apprenticeships can be completed through a union or with any qualified non-union plumber. The main difference between the two is union membership. Union apprentices will need to join and pay dues to the union, while non-union apprentices have no such requirement.

In South Carolina, there are several options for apprenticeships. These opportunities include non-union apprenticeship programs through All Clear Plumbing in Piedmont and Corely in Greenville, and a union apprenticeship through Local 421 in North Charleston.

Career Certifications

The list of possible certifications plumbers can apply for is long and highly variable. Obtaining a certification can help move your career in a new direction or create a niche for your business. A few possible certifications include Commercial Plumbing Inspector, Certified Plumbing Design Technician and UPC Residential and Commercial Inspector.

Salaries and Potential for Growth

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), plumbers in South Carolina made between $31,210 and $63,410 in 2019, with average annual salaries falling in at $46,870. This compares somewhat unfavorably with the national average of $59,800 for this field.

The good news is that the career is growing, with Projections Central predicting a 14.4 percent increase in positions between 2018 and 2028.

Opportunities in South Carolina

Becoming a plumber could provide you with the flexibility you need in a career. Plumbers work in many different situations, as plumbing structures are required for many types of resources. According to the BLS, plumbers are most commonly employed by building equipment contractors, utility systems constructors, non-residential building construction companies and local governments; however, many other industries also regularly hire plumbers. Many plumbers even own and operate a business, either with many employees or as an individual contractor. In South Carolina, possible employers include TradeSouce, McLeod Health, Aerotek, Medix Group and Lowe’s Home Improvement.