How to Become a Plumber in Texas

Plumbing is one of society’s most vital infrastructures and, as such, is in constant need of maintenance and repair. This is good news for anyone who is considering a career in plumbing because more work to get done means more opportunities to advance your career. If you’ve been considering this in-demand career and want to know where to begin, this article will help you get started.

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Plumbing provides the buildings we live and work in with water, waste removal, and gas for cooking and heating. It also makes up a significant component of air conditioning systems and is used for various industrial or medical gasses. While some of the more specialized uses for plumbing will require training as a pipefitter or steamfitter (especially pressurized pipes and those that carry certain materials), there should be plenty of opportunities for plumbers to work in a large variety of industries.

So, what types of skills will you need as a plumber? One of the most important is physical stamina. Plumbers spend long days on their feet, often crammed into tight spaces to work on or inspect pipes. Another essential skill is an eye for detail, as plumbers will need to be able to immediately recognize pipes and parts in need of repair. In training, plumbers will acquire a vast knowledge of the various types of materials used for pipes and which to use in different circumstances. Plumbers will need to know how to meet state and local building codes and know the proper materials to ensure public safety.

Plumbing Licenses in Texas

You will need to acquire a license if you want to work as a plumber in the state of Texas. Licenses are regulated through the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners and consist of four levels: Tradesman Plumber Limited, Journeyman, Master, and Plumbing Inspector. There are also four types of endorsements and four types of registrations that will allow for the performance of various tasks.

Texas Training for a Career in Plumbing

Training for plumbers can take the form of an apprenticeship or a training course, and sometimes students will participate in a combination of both. Apprenticeship.gov can help you find a match in your area for those who wish to find an apprenticeship opportunity.

Only one college in the state offers plumbing training, although there are more options for those interested in pipefitting.

  • Texas State Technical College in Waco offers a Plumbing and Pipefitting course. Students in the program will spend the majority of time in a laboratory setting using various instruments for measuring, cutting and testing pipes.

Apprenticeships for Prospective Plumbers in Texas

If you are planning to become a plumber and live in Texas, you will need to become an apprentice at some point during your training. In fact, the state requires plumbing apprentices to register and complete at least 8,000 hours of on-the-job experience as a registered apprentice. Only once this requirement is met will you qualify to become licensed as a journeyman plumber. It will also be necessary to attend a state-approved, 48-hour training course before taking a licensing exam. 

Apprentices gain experience through working under the supervision of qualified tradespeople. As they assist journey- and master-level plumbers on the job, they gain valuable trade skills, allowing them to perform increasingly complex tasks. For many apprentices, one of the best parts of the experience is the ability to earn a living wage while learning, offsetting the costs of training. 

Apprentices have the choice to learn through either a union or non-union apprenticeship. Those who choose a union apprenticeship will be required to join a union, pay union dues and adhere to strict job classification guidelines. Non-union apprentices generally make less money but have a less formal job description and do not have to pay union dues. 

If you are searching for an apprenticeship in your area, you can search for one at apprenticeship.gov or the Texas Workforce Commission. Union apprenticeships can also be entered through one of several union organizations in the state, including UA Local 100 in Mesquite, UA Local 286 in Austin and Plumbers Local 68 with offices in Houston, Beaumont and Corpus Christi. 

Salary and Career Growth in Texas

According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), plumbers in Texas made between $28,440 and $71,320 in 2019. Average wages came in at $50,320 per year. It is reasonable for those starting out to expect salaries toward the lower end of the scale, with wages increasing with experience.

The potential for a lasting career in Texas is high, with Projections Central predicting a 16.6 percent growth in the profession between 2018 and 2028.

Texas Plumbing Opportunities

In Texas, plumbers work for organizations like Trades Masters, BVS Home Experts, the County of Harris, Texas Department of Public Safety, The University of Texas, Denton County and the Army National Guard. However, the BLS reports the highest paid plumbers are employed by communications equipment manufacturing companies, electric power generation companies, aerospace products and parts manufacturers, and spectator sports organizations. Regardless of where you choose to begin your career, working as a plumber could be the lucrative and lasting opportunity you’ve been hoping to find.

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