A plumbing apprenticeship is the cornerstone of any new plumber’s career allowing him to earn a wage while also receiving instruction from a master craftsman. This kind of training is the ideal blend of learning through hands-on experience in a supervised environment and essentially transfers the educational aspects and qualities of the classroom learning environment into the workplace. There were more than 130,000 trainees involved in apprenticeships in 2011.
The advantages of an apprenticeship are numerous. You start learning your craft and making money immediately. Although the wage is less than the normal rate, it will increase as you earn more experience.
As you acquire more experience, you gain industry credentials that are nationally recognized by employers. The training and skills acquired by a plumber allow him or her flexibility to move to other regions of the county and find work with relative ease. Since some aspects of the plumbing job market can be cyclical and suffer when construction falters in general, this skill portability is a valuable asset.
Additionally, the apprentice can get secondary and post-secondary degrees through articulation agreements between apprenticeship programs and 2- and 4-year vocational schools and colleges. This type of arrangement would defray your tuition costs.
Each plumbing apprentice is assigned a mentor. Experienced workers oversee the student’s progress and provide a great role model. Employers develop benchmarks that serve as motivation and track the career development of each plumber. This structure serves to increase worker productivity and retention rates for post-apprenticeship employment opportunities. More than 85 percent of apprenticeship participants are still employed nine months after the program ends. Plumbing apprenticeships are directly related to career advancement.
Sources for apprenticeships include the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration’s Registered Apprenticeship system. Their 75-year-old job-related, technical instruction works in conjunction with the on–the-job learning experience. Registered Apprenticeship is an industry leader and they have opportunities construction.
The Union Apprenticeship Training program provided by the United Association in Annapolis, MD consists of 300 local unions. The apprenticeship offers a union contract with insurance, pension and health benefits. They’re reputation as the “best construction industry apprentice program in the world” is based on their comprehensive five-year program for men and women in the U.S., Canada and Australia.
The plumbing apprenticeship sponsored by the Plumbers Union Local 75 in Milwaukee, WI has a model program. In addition to wages, the apprentice earns benefits. After they complete the training that lasts five years, they are eligible to take the state licensing exam and become a journeyman. They also earn 30 college credits for their classroom instruction which emphasizes a safe work environment.
The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association has information on apprenticeship training and plumbing apprentice contests. Job boards such as Indeed.com, Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com also lists apprenticeships. Author Michael Farr has an excellent book titled “200 Best Jobs Through Apprenticeships” that many readers may find a useful tool in learning about various career paths that might appeal to them.
The Canadian Apprenticeship Forum discusses some of the issues impacting apprenticeships. This organization publishes research on highlights topics and solutions faced by program sponsors. They promote the value of apprenticeships in Canada and worldwide as excellent opportunities for youth, parents, adults and employers. Plumbing training programs affect the economy and our global society.
Apprenticeships started in the Middle Ages and these resources will help you gain a better understanding of the practice and why they continue to thrive in our modern, fast-paced world. Enhanced by technology and innovative thinking, apprenticeships provide an excellent model for training with mutually beneficial rewards for all parties involved.
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.