As you can imagine, plumbing courses consist of pipes, valves and fittings, drainage systems, gas piping, venting and appliances. But the role of a plumber is diverse and always evolving according to the latest trends in technology, public policy or environmental issues. Plumbers must have complementary skills that support business operations, employee development and customer retention.
The average curriculum for a course in plumbing is specialized, hands on, reflective of real-world scenarios (lab, shop or field experiences) and designed to meet current market demands. Curriculum developers understand that outdated courses or irrelevant material will not prepare students for a competitive marketplace. An online component with an asynchronous format is also part of a progressive educational program. So, faculty and administrators often partner with employers and industry leaders to develop a plan of study that meets or exceeds standards in plumbing or related fields.
A technical college in Atlanta, GA offers plumbing certificates and a plumbing diploma (47- credit hour course) that includes plumbing courses but it also offers an interpersonal relations class. Topics include human relations, job retention, communication and professional image. An introductory computer course that focuses on administrative software (e.g., word processing, spreadsheet, email and database) is also part of the curriculum.
A 600-hour, four-year course offered by the New Hampshire Department of Education uses the recommendations and guidelines given by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). The NCCER is a nonprofit organization that has worked with various associations and over 100 construction leaders to revolutionize training for the construction industry.
Their rigorous, four-year plumbing program entails the following highlights: Year one includes 20 hours of plumbing safety, 10 hours of water distribution systems and 27.5 hours of introductory craft skills. Year two offers 20 hours of commercial drawings and 30 hours of fuel & gas piping. Year three is comprised of a 10-hour course in storm systems and a 30-hour course in international plumbing code 2009. The fourth and final year consists of highly specialized courses, (e.g., plumbing for mobile home parks, hydronic and solar heating systems and water pressure booster and recirculation systems).
Associate’s degrees in plumbing usually include these types of subjects as part of their general education, humanities or art/human/social science requirements. Northern Maine Community College offers mass communications and literature as part of their two-year program.
Georgia Institute of Technology, a top-ranked academic institution, offers bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees in construction management. Undergraduate programs prepare students for positions of leadership. Real estate development as well as science and technology courses are offered. Graduate students learn public policy, principles of smart growth, urbanism and sustainable construction. Doctorate students focus on quantitative methods in construction research.
According to OccupationalInfo.org, other relevant courses for plumber’s training include management, English language, customer service, human resources, sociology and anthropology and law and government.
Online plumbing courses, webinars and seminars and virtual university programs are offered by the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. You should also contact your local community college or technical school to learn about plumbing courses in your area.
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.