How to Start a Career as a Plumber in Vermont
Have you been considering a career as a plumber? Plumbers work to design, install, maintain and repair the various piping systems that keep society running. In homes and businesses, plumbing brings water in and waste out and often provides heating and cooling. In industry, gasses are piped in for many uses, including welding and manufacturing. In hospitals, plumbing delivers essential medical gasses to those who need it to survive. With so many applications for piping systems, plumbers have a wealth of opportunity for a lucrative career.
Plumbers can be found working in a variety of industries both in the public and private sectors. Small business ownership is also possible for those who prefer to work independently. The work requires good physical stamina and manual dexterity. A good eye for detail is essential, as plumbers will often need to inspect piping for problems and know when a particular section needs to be replaced. Plumbers will also need to acquire a great deal of knowledge about construction materials and building codes.
Plumbers will often need to communicate with clients and other contractors to keep a job running smoothly and provide estimates for costs and project timeframes. It will be necessary for a plumber to accurately price the cost of materials and labor for specific jobs. These skills are especially crucial for anyone who plans on running a business of their own, as they will often need to bid for particular projects.
Licensing in Vermont
Vermont does have a licensing requirement for plumbers, through the Division of Fire Safety. Direct oversight is provided by the Plumbers Examining Board, which holds the responsibility for the issuance, suspension and revocation of plumbers’ licenses. Licenses are issued for two levels of plumbers, the Journeyman Plumber and Master Plumber.
Training for Vermont Plumbers
Plumbing training in Vermont is done through registered apprenticeship. Registered apprenticeships allow you to work and earn money while developing useful career skills. The Vermont Department of Labor partners with Vermont Technical College and the Community College of Vermont to make learning opportunities available within the state. Those entering the program will work alongside a Support Sponsor to learn all aspects of the trade. Classroom instruction will supplement the hands-on learning, with education in areas such as code requirements and OSHA specifications.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in Vermont
If you live in Vermont and are interested in becoming a plumber, you will first need to secure a plumbing apprenticeship prior to becoming licensed. Becoming a licensed journeyman plumber in the state requires 12,000 hours of instruction, training and experience, or the completion of an apprenticeship in another state. Those looking to become master plumbers will need to fulfill 14,000 hours of experience, with two years as a licensed journeyman.
Participation in a registered apprenticeship program is a great way to experience a plumber’s day-to-day work, gain valuable skills and benefit from the oversight of a qualified plumber. Apprentices are paid workers who function as a part of a crew, assisting journeyman and master plumbers by carrying supplies to and from the job site, assisting with repairs and performing increasingly challenging tasks as they learn more and more of the trade. In addition, many apprenticeships include classroom learning or partner with a training program at a local trade college.
When choosing an apprenticeship, you will need to decide if you want to participate in a union or non-union apprenticeship. With either choice, you will gain the knowledge and skills you need to work as a plumber. The main difference between the two types of programs is that union apprentices must join the union, pay dues and follow union rules and regulations.
You can apply for a registered apprenticeship in Vermont through the Vermont Department of Labor or directly through a program. Some Vermont-based programs are offered through Vermont Technical School, UA Local 693 and Stafford Technical Center.
It is not necessary for all licensed Vermont plumbers to acquire a certification in addition to a license. In fact, certifications for plumbers are for specific types of services. Some examples include certification in Green Plumbing Design and Plumbing Plans Examiner. Acquiring such specialized certificates is a great way to advance your career by filling a niche area.
Wage Expectations and Career Growth
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects yearly wage data for various professions and geographical areas. According to their data, plumbers in Vermont made an average salary of $49,170 in 2021, with average hourly wages of $23.64. Those at the highest end of the spectrum made a reported $63,230 annually.
Growth in the field is similarly good, with an expected 9 percent increase in plumbers over the next 10 years.
Plumbing Trade in Vermont
One of the perks of working in Vermont is the normalization of training through their apprenticeship program. The system not only helps you earn while you learn your trade but also gives you the opportunity to experience life as a plumber. Once you have completed your training, you will be free to seek a job opportunity at one of the many employers who recruit plumbers. A few possibilities include Vermont Mechanical, Vail Resorts and Army National Guard.