A Plumbing Career in Wisconsin
Have you been wondering if a career as a plumber will have the opportunities you want? If you like to work with your hands, have good physical stamina and think you can handle using tools in tight spaces, a career in plumbing might be just the thing for you. What are the advantages of working as a plumber? One of the biggest is that plumbing services will be in demand as long as there are pipes to install, maintain and repair.
Plumbing tasks include:
- Service plumbing systems
- Gas systems
- Drainage systems
- Working with hot pipes and soldering equipment
- Blueprint reading
- System design
- Bathroom fixtures
- Cooling systems
- Install and repair systems in commercial and industrial buildings
- Install sanitary facilities such as drinking fountains, kitchen fixtures, and laundry equipment
Plumbing systems exist nearly everywhere where humans live and work. These systems bring water to homes and businesses, remove waste products and provide gas for cooking and warmth. Plumbing is also a significant component in many air conditioning systems and is used to transport industrial gasses and chemicals for manufacturing. Even hospitals rely on piping systems to deliver medical gasses to patients who need them to survive. With so many industries relying on plumbing, it’s hard to imagine an industry where plumbers are not required to keep things running smoothly.
Wisconsin Licensing Requirements
Licenses in Wisconsin are awarded by the Department of Safety and Professional Services. For plumbing licenses, there are three different levels reflecting different stages in the plumber’s career. The Plumbing Apprentice license is for those who are just beginning their career and learning the trade. The Journeyman Plumber license requires the completion of an apprenticeship and the ability to pass an exam. The Master Plumber license is for those who have worked for at least three years as a Journeyman Plumber with at least 1,000 hours worked per year.
Plumbing Schools in Wisconsin
Plumbing training is generally completed through attendance at an appropriate training program or an apprenticeship with a qualified plumber. In either case, a high school diploma or equivalent is a required prerequisite. For those wishing to explore apprenticeship opportunities, this website can help you find an opening in your area.
A few possible training programs in Wisconsin are listed below:
- Nicolet College offers Plumbing Apprenticeship training. Students in the program will learn to install and repair pipes for water, gas, sewage and draining systems. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have the option to transfer credits to a Journey-Worker degree.
- Western Technical College offers a Plumbing course. This five-year program provides 2,500 hours of on-the-job training, 500 hours of paid hands on classroom instruction and 260 hours of unpaid instruction.
- Fox Valley Technical College offers Plumbing Apprentice training. Students will train on residential and industrial projects while receiving both paid and unpaid instruction.
- Milwaukee Area Technical College offers a Preparatory Plumbing Diploma. The program provides instruction on the basics of plumbing. Upon completion of the program, an apprenticeship is the recommended next step.
How to Become a Plumbing Apprentice in Wisconsin
In today’s job market, working in a profession that offers long-term stability and opportunity is extremely desirable. Plumbing may be a challenging job that calls for physical and mental stamina, but it’s also needed everywhere. As long as there are newly constructed buildings with water supply, sanitation and heating, plumbers will be in demand. In order to ensure plumbing is designed, installed and maintained safely, most U.S. states–including West Virginia—license and regulate plumbers.
To work on any plumbing project, you need to be licensed—and that includes plumbing trainees, also known as apprentices. Apprenticeship is an ancient form of work where you sign up to work for a particular employer for a number of years. In exchange, you’re paid a decent wage, which will generally increase each year as you gain more skills. You’ll learn everything about the trade from experienced plumbers, and you’ll be able to perform challenging and complex tasks with their support and direct supervision. To move from trainee to journeyman in West Virginia, you’ll need to show you’ve worked 8,000 hours under supervision. This generally takes four to five years.
Apprenticeships are very competitive, so it’s good to have a solid foundation in math and physics, reliable transport and a willingness to learn and work hard. You can get apprenticeships through local trade unions—for example, the Plumbers and Pipefitters’ union in Charleston, WV takes on apprentices annually. You can also look on the major job websites such as ZipRecruiter, Monster and Indeed for available apprenticeship roles—plumbers are needed everywhere from tiny small businesses to huge construction firms.
Plumbing Apprenticeships in Wisconsin
Apprentices play an important part in America’s plumbing industry. On jobs large and small, these relative newcomers help more experienced plumbers complete crucial tasks. In doing so, they also gather the skills needed to become experienced themselves.
In Wisconsin, plumbing apprenticeship standards are set by the Department of Safety and Professional Services. These standards require you to seek a license before taking an apprentice’s position. To gain your license, you must fill out an application and pay a fee. Once you’re approved, you can work on plumbing teams that are led by a licensed master plumber.
You may be able to arrange an apprenticeship with a local plumber. Apprenticeship programs are also fairly common in Wisconsin. Some of these programs are offered by plumbers’ unions. Others are offered by colleges or other educational institutions.
An example of a union program available in Wisconsin is the one offered by Plumbers Local 75 in the southeastern part of the state. This program allows you to get paid while honing your practical skills and taking classwork. Overall, you’ll gain thousands of hours of professional training.
Western Technical College also offers paid plumbing apprenticeships. The school’s five-year program provides more than 8,000 hours of classwork and on-the-job experience. Another potential option is the apprenticeship program offered by Nicolet College. This program provides 16 credit hours of training spread out over a total of eight courses. A variety of major topics are covered.
Wages and Career Growth in Wisconsin
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), wages in Wisconsin are well above the national average, with plumbers reporting an average annual salary of $71,690 in 2021. By comparison, the average annual salary for this occupation nationally was $59,880. The top 10 percent of earners in Wisconsin reported an annual wage of $99,780, leaving plenty of room for economic growth within the field.
In other good news, the career is expected to continue to grow by 8 percent over the next ten years.
Career Opportunities for Wisconsin Plumbers
According to the BLS, the industries with the highest level of employment for plumbers are building equipment contractors and utility systems construction companies. However, with plumbers in high demand everywhere, you will be able to seek employment in nearly any industry. Potential employers in Wisconsin include Madison Metropolitan School District, Marquette University, Medix Group, the Army National Guard and the Wisconsin State Government.