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 you home, but did you know that plumbing is one of society’s most vital infrastructures? Plumbing is 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.
If you’ve been considering a career as a plumber, 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.
Training for Plumbers 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. A few possible training programs in South Dakota include:
- 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 as a plumber, 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
Data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2019 showed incomes ranged between $31,900 and $62,420 for plumbers in South Dakota. With such a wide range of salaries, those starting out in the profession will have room to grow their income as they become experienced in the trade.
Plumbers can also expect significant growth in the industry in South Dakota, with Projections Central predicting a 13.1 percent growth between 2018 and 2028.
Plumbers are needed in nearly every industry, allowing those in the trade to choose from a wide variety of employment options. While some may want to work a full-time job with retirement and benefits, others may prefer to work more independently and make a living on their own terms.
In South Dakota, a few potential employers include Midwestern Medical, the Army National Guard and Aerotek. Wherever you decide to begin your career, working as a plumber can help you build the lifestyle you want.