Journeyman Plumber

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A journeyman plumber is a highly skilled individual that is qualified to work in all aspects of the trade. In 2010, there were 419,900 jobs for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters. They are in high demand in a segment that is growing 26 percent faster than average.

Journeyman plumbers have attended a vocational or trade school and have received the necessary training and apprenticeship. Although they work with other licensed plumbers, they do not require direct supervision.

If they wish to become a licensed Journeyman Plumber, they have to pass the Journeyman Plumber’s Examination that consists of 90 written multiple choice questions. According to the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, they must have a current Plumber’s Apprentice registration or a current Tradesman Plumber-Limited license. They must have 8,000 hours of verifiable trade experience. A high school diploma or GED is required and proof of U.S. citizenship or legal alien status is mandatory. The fee is $40.

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) has 350 schools that provide journeymen training. Their million-dollar, state-of-the-art facilities are used to teach and advance every aspect of industry training. After UA members finish the comprehensive, five-year apprenticeships, they become journeymen.

The journeyman plumber’s job description includes assembling and repairing pipes, fittings, and fixtures of heating, water and drainage systems according to specifications and codes. Facility maintenance includes temperature control and HVAC systems and fixtures (e.g., faucets, bathtubs, urinals) installation. They lay out domestic water and sanitary systems, inspect the structure to determine obstructions, cut openings of walls and floors, use power tools and dig ditches. They also cut and solder copper tubing. A clean driving record is required. Depending on the employer, other qualifications may include sales experience or one year of working in a medical facility.

The median wage for a plumber was $22.43 per hour or $46,660 per year in 2010. The number of jobs available in 2010 was 419,900. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,580 and the top 10 percent earned greater than $79,920.

In Texas, there are 29,980 plumbers earning $44,080. Nationally, a commercial plumbing journeyman earns $39,000. A licensed journeyman plumber makes $50,000 versus $44,000 for an unlicensed journeyman plumber. Some employers offer journeymen plumbers commission plans and benefit packages including paid time off, medical, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability, life insurance and 401k retirement contributions.

A journeyman plumber is expected to work overtime and on weekends. They must act as emergency 24-hour plumbers and be available on call. Wet floors, chemicals and dangerous machinery are some of the elements present in their hazardous environments. They work in high altitudes and risk falling from ladders. They work on their feet for extended periods in extreme temperatures outside. They must be physically strong and able to lift heavy objects weighing 80 lbs. or more.

The construction industry is one of the largest sectors of the labor market. With the current positive housing trend, more plumbing positions will become available. Journeyman plumbers can look forward to employment opportunities offering competitive salaries, benefits and advancement.

For more information about becoming a plumber, please visit the Plumber Career Portal of Ditch College.

If you would like to read about other jobs that do not require a four year degree, please visit our career portal.

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