A Career in Plumbing in Tennessee

If you’ve been considering a career as a plumber, you might be wondering what kind of future you can expect from the trade. Plumbing is essential to the continuation of modern society. If not for plumbing systems, water delivery, waste removal and heating and cooling would be far more difficult. Furthermore, beyond the mundane day-to-day uses for piping, it is also crucial for medical and industrial purposes, making lifesaving treatments and manufacturing possible. With all of these vital systems relying on plumbing to keep things running smoothly, plumbers can expect a secure future, installing, maintaining and repairing them.

Search Plumber Programs

Get information on Plumber programs by entering your zip code and request enrollment information.

Sponsored Listings

As a plumber, you will need to acquire a great deal of knowledge about the systems you will be responsible for, including which materials and methods are safest for various purposes and how to maintain compliance with building codes. Plumbers will also need a great deal of physical stamina, as the job requires carrying heavy equipment, working with tools and working in tight spaces. A good eye for detail will be needed for inspecting pipes and deciding which parts require repair or replacement.

For those interested in business ownership, it will be necessary to understand basic business practices such as accounting and marketing. Business owners will also need to accurately approximate the cost of materials and labor to prepare written estimates for clients or contracting bids for large projects. Excellent communication skills are a must, as you will often need to coordinate services with other contractors around a specific client’s needs.

Plumbing programs typically cover some of the following topics:

  • Repair electrical wiring
  • Electrical control systems
  • General plumbing fixtures
  • Water supply systems
  • Safety plumbing tools types
  • Plumbing codes
  • Pipe fabrication

Tennessee Licensing for Plumbers

In Tennessee, plumbers are required to have a license to practice. Licenses are granted by the Tennessee Department of Commercial and Insurance in two forms, a Limited License and a Contractor License. Limited Licenses are for those whose per-project value is less than $25,000, while Contractor Licenses are for anyone providing work valued at over $25,000.

Plumbing Schools in Tennessee

Prior to training as a plumber, a high school diploma or equivalent will be necessary. Once completed, plumbers generally train through an apprenticeship or certified training program. A few of the choices for training in Tennessee include:

  • Moore Tech College of Technology in Memphis offers a Plumbing Certificate Program. The program promises to prepare students for a career in the industry through lectures and hands-on lab work.
  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Morristown offers a certificate program in Pipefitting and Plumbing Technology. Students will learn the basics of the plumbing trade including safety, building codes, basic math, plumbing materials and industry standards.
  • Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Knoxville also offers a certificate program in Pipefitting and Plumbing Technology. The plumbing construction technology program promises to teach students the basics of the pipefitting trade including fabrication, installation, blueprint reading and measurements.

Plumbing Apprenticeships in Tennessee

Becoming a plumber requires hands-on training. The ideal way to learn the trade is through an apprenticeship, a period of working under a licensed plumber. It allows you to learn the skills needed to be a plumber while also earning a salary and even college credits.

Tennessee licenses plumbers through the Department of Commerce and Insurance. The state offers two levels of licenses: limited and contractor. You must pass an exam to become licensed.

Several local unions in Tennessee have Joint Apprenticeship Training Committees offering apprenticeship programs for aspiring plumbers. The apprenticeships typically last five years and include college credit. Placement can be competitive, so it’s best to have a strong high school transcript. Some options include:

You can also find non-union apprenticeships in the state by searching an online job site. For example, recent listings at Glassdor.com include these options: apprentice plumbers, ULG Skilled Trades in Nashville;plumbing apprentice, Rogers Mechanical in Knoxville; and plumber apprentice, Tradesman International in Chattanooga.

Another option for hands-on plumbing training is to complete a community or technical college program. Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Morristown offers a pipefitting and plumbing technology program that takes 12 months to complete. Moore Tech’s 12-month plumbing diploma program is available in Memphis.

Earning and Job Growth Potential in the State

In Tennessee, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters earn an average annual wage of $50,640, which is below the national average of $60,090. The lowest 10% of earners in Tennessee make $38,210 or less, while the highest 10% can earn up to $76,180.

National vs. Tennessee Salary Comparison

Location Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
United States $37,250 $60,090 $101,190
Tennessee $38,210 $50,640 $76,180

Salaries by Regions in Tennessee

Region Annual Low (10%) Annual Median (50%) Annual High (90%)
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, TN $39,230 $52,400 $74,950
Memphis, TN-MS-AR $37,740 $50,440 $75,990
Knoxville, TN $37,800 $51,000 $86,910

Plumbing Trends in Tennessee

In Tennessee, the employment trends for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters indicate a healthy growth projection. In 2020, the state employed approximately 7,220 workers in these fields. By 2030, this number is expected to rise to 7,990, representing an 11% growth rate. This growth rate is substantially higher than the national average, which is projected at 2% from 2022 to 2032. Annually, from 2020 to 2030, Tennessee is projected to have about 850 job openings due to growth and replacements.


Region Employment (Start Year) Projected Employment (End Year) Projected Growth (%) Annual Job Openings
Tennessee 7,220 (2020) 7,990 (2030) 11% 850
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.

College Listings