The financial advantages of a college education are diminishing as the costs continue to skyrocket and graduates find a crowded field of job seekers. Many will carry substantial amounts of student debt for large portions of their working lives.
There are jobs for high school graduates who enter the job market immediately after high school, where they can start earning money immediately without incurring massive debt. Plumbing is one such job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for plumbers are predicted to increase much faster than the average for other jobs. It is anticipated that between 2018 and 2028 there will be need for 68,200 new plumbers. With a median pay of $53,910 a year or $25.92 per hour, salaries for plumbers compete favorably with those of college graduates.
Training as a plumber is usually done through a four to five year apprenticeship with some 2,000 hours of paid-on-the-job training. At the end of the apprenticeship, apprentices are journeyman and are able to work independently. As they acquire experience, they are eligible to take an exam to be a Master Plumber. Not only does this designation identify their qualifications to prospective employers, some states require that plumbing contracts must have at least one Master Plumber in their employ in order to be licensed. Time Magazine reported, via an interview with a spokesperson for a Cincinnati, Ohio-based plumbing chain, that master plumbers with five to seven years experience can earn upwards of $100,000 per year. While this might be a bit higher than in other parts of the country, salaries for master plumbers are strong nationally. According to actual salaries as reported by Glassdoor, the average salary for a Master Plumber nationally is $77,000. The career steps from apprentice to journeyman to master come with significant salary and career advantages.
NITC offers qualifying examination for certification in each of these levels. There is a test apprentices can take to achieve the journeyman designation, and another to move on to STAR Master Plumber. Gaining the qualifying experience, preparing for, and passing these examinations will provide a pathway to a successful career in an expanding and well-paid career field.