How to Become a Plumber in South Dakota

If you were to spend any time at all thinking about plumbing, it would probably be in the context of bringing water into and waste away from your home, but did you know that plumbing is one of society’s most vital infrastructures? Plumbing systems are responsible for keeping us warm and cool and providing us with cooking gas and electricity. Piping systems are a critical part of our economy, as they are used for supplying manufacturing materials and running various pieces of equipment. In medicine, medical-grade gasses provide lifesaving treatments to patients and are used in laboratory and diagnostic testing. It is not an overstatement to say that without plumbers, our society would collapse, making a career as a plumber a reliable and potentially lucrative choice.

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If you’ve been considering a career as a plumbing technician, you might wish to know what it would be like to work in the profession. Plumbers have a very physical job and often have to spend time doing repairs in small, dimly lit spaces. They need to know what tools and materials to use for specific situations, as well as be extensively familiar with the building codes in their local area. Communication skills are essential, as plumbers will often need to discuss issues with clients and other contractors.

If this sounds like a good fit for you, keep reading for more information on how to begin this exciting career.

Licensing Requirements for Plumbers in South Dakota

Plumbers in South Dakota will need to seek licensing through the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. There are three levels of license that can be applied for in the state: Plumbing Apprentice, Journeyman Plumber and Plumbing Contractor. You must have four years of experience to apply for a Journeyman Plumber license and six years of experience to apply for a Plumbing Contractor license.

Plumbing Schools in South Dakota

You will need to acquire a high school diploma or equivalent before participating in training to become a plumber. Once you have met this prerequisite, you can apply for training either as an apprentice or through a specific program. The following trade schools offer plumbing programs in South Dakota

  • Sinte Gleska University in Mission offers a one-year Plumbing Certificate. Students will learn the basics of the trade, with hands-on learning provided through field experience.
  • Western Dakota Tech in Rapid City offers a degree in Plumbing Technology. Students will gain hands-on experience through lab simulations and real-life scenarios, along with classroom instruction.
  • Southeast Technical College in Sioux Falls offers a one-year diploma in Mechanical Systems/Plumbing Technology. The program allows students to learn on residential and commercial projects.

Plumbing Apprenticeship Opportunities in South Dakota

If you live in South Dakota and are planning a career in the plumbing industry, you will need to participate in a plumbing apprenticeship. South Dakota requires plumbing apprentices to obtain a license and work strictly under direct supervision for at least the first two years of apprenticeship. After 3,800 hours of on-the-job experience, plumbing apprentices can work with limited independence. It will take four years of experience as an apprentice to qualify as a licensed journeyman plumber in the state. 

Obtaining training through an apprenticeship has one big perk: Apprentices are paid a living wage while learning the trade. However, the ability to earn a salary and avoid the debt incurred with most professional training isn’t the only advantage to an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships also give you the opportunity to work under a knowledgeable tradesperson, experiencing the day-to-day life of a plumber. In this way, you can be sure that a career in plumbing fits your personality and lifestyle.

One of the first career choices you will need to make is whether or not you want to participate in a union. That is because training can be completed either through a union or non-union apprenticeship. If you choose to participate in a union apprenticeship, you will need to join the union and pay regular union dues.

You can find out more about apprenticeships in the state through the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation. Additionally, you can apply for an apprenticeship through the South Dakota Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors, Inc. or United Association Local 300.

South Dakota Earnings and Career Growth

In South Dakota, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters earn an average annual wage of $49,080, which is below the national average of $60,090. The lowest 10% of earners in South Dakota make $37,510 or less, while the top 10% earn up to $71,700.

National vs. South Dakota Salary Comparison

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $37,250 $60,090 $101,190
South Dakota $37,510 $49,080 $71,700

Salaries by Regions in South Dakota

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
East South Dakota nonmetropolitan area $37,240 $47,940 $71,700
Rapid City, SD $37,590 $49,620 $71,890
Sioux City, IA-NE-SD $39,250 $59,690 $82,020
Sioux Falls, SD $37,930 $50,090 $72,850
West South Dakota nonmetropolitan area $36,240 $47,910 $62,230

Plumbing Trends in South Dakota

In South Dakota, the employment trends for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters show promising growth. The state employed approximately 1,750 workers in these fields as of 2020. By 2030, this number is projected to increase to 1,920, representing a 10% growth rate. This growth rate is significantly higher than the national average of 2% projected for the same period. Annually, from 2020 to 2030, South Dakota is expected to have about 200 job openings due to growth and replacements.


Region Employment (Start Year) Projected Employment (End Year) Projected Growth (%) Annual Job Openings
South Dakota 1,750 (2020) 1,920 (2030) 10% 200
United States 482,700 (2022) 493,600 (2032) 2% 42,600

Sources of data:

  1. State Data: The projections for this State from 2020 to 2030 are provided by Projections Central, which offers long-term projections for occupational employment.
  2. United States Data: The nationwide employment projections from 2022 to 2032 are sourced from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which regularly publishes detailed employment projections for a wide range of occupations across the United States.

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