What is the Process for Becoming a Master Plumber? Does This Vary by the State You Reside In?

Table of Contents

What is the Process for Becoming a Master Plumber? Does This Vary by the State You Reside In? 1

Who Is a Master Plumber? 1

The Process of Becoming a Master Plumber 1

  1. Be a High School Graduate 1
  2. Enroll in the Apprenticeship Program 1
  3. Acquire Skills Needed 2
  4. Sit the Journeyman Plumbing Licensure Exam 2
  5. Take the Master Plumbing Licensing Examination 3

The Difference Between a Master Plumber and a Journeyman 3

Work Environment 3

Specifications for Education 3

How Much Does a Master Plumber Earn? 4

Are There Related Careers to Master Plumbing? 4

Conclusion 4


While some people look down upon plumbers, we can agree that our homes and business premises would be chaotic without these men and women. Imagine a whole day without a working drainage system or running water. That would probably be the worst day of your life. Given the necessity of piping and drainage systems, the plumbing industry has developed greatly, becoming one of the most advanced fields. Like most industries, plumbing has different professions, one of which entails becoming a master plumber.

Who Is a Master Plumber?

A master plumber is a technician who has attained the greatest professional stage in the industry. To advance to a master plumber, you first need to finalize an apprenticeship, upgrade to a licensed journeyman, and finally obtain a master plumber license. Master plumbers have the option of specializing in one area of plumbing. These areas are as aligned below;

  1. Pipefitters: A pipefitter is a plumber who maintains and installs pressurized pipes for water tanks, furnaces, and boilers. They are also in charge of monitoring the pipes and ensuring they are in good condition throughout.
  2. Pipelayers: These are plumbers in charge of digging ditches and laying pipes in these ditches. The pipes could be of different purposes and nature.
  3. Steamfitters: A steamfitter involves installing pipes and fixtures needed to transport liquids and gases under high pressure.
  4. Sprinkler fitters: This plumber is responsible for installing, maintaining, and monitoring fire sprinkler systems in residences and commercial centers.

General plumbers: A general plumber is in charge of installing fixtures such as sinks, showers, and bathtubs and dealing with clogs. These plumbers are mainly assigned to commercial and residential buildings needing such fixtures.

A master plumber mainly deals with installations, maintenance, and repair systems with a degree of competence that surpasses standard plumbers. They are in charge of both interior and exterior plumbing maintenance and repair. 

The Process of Becoming a Master Plumber

Becoming a master plumber is not as hard as it sounds, only that you must go through a few steps. We have prepared a detailed summary of these steps to ease your understanding.

  1. Be a High School Graduate

The first phase toward becoming a master plumber is completing high school and obtaining a high school diploma or a GED. This is a requirement for entering an apprenticeship program.

  1. Enroll in the Apprenticeship Program

Since you need to acquire certain skills, applying for a plumbing apprenticeship program is necessary. During your apprenticeship, you will be under the supervision of experienced plumbers, particularly a master plumber. Through on-the-job training, you will learn numerous skills and gain knowledge. While every apprenticeship program is different, one constant factor is the training bit. Hence, before applying for any program, ensure you have researched extensively. Find one that will give you the most benefits and payments. This will help avoid future regrets. Additionally, check if the government approves the program because most employer prefers to work with plumbers enrolled in registered programs. Such programs often meet the high standards and requirements needed for the job.

Filling out registration forms, sitting for admissions exams, and interviewing are part of the apprenticeship application process. The program can last anywhere from two to six years. You can enroll through a plumbers’ union or a licensed plumber to apply for an apprenticeship. Your responsibilities as a plumber trainee may include the following:

  • Fixing leaking fixtures, substituting pipe segments to prevent leaks, and clearing and unblocking drains
  • Introduction to plumbing tools, machinery, and components.
  • calculating the cost of repairing plumbing problems
  1. Acquire Skills Needed

Since plumbing is a technical job, master plumbers need certain skills to perform tasks as expected. Some of the skills required include:

  • Communication and listening skills – As a master plumber, you will often need to talk to your clients to understand their problems. Additionally, good communication with team members is important.
  • Coordination – Sometimes, master plumbers need to work together to solve certain problems. Good coordination skills will help you perform well when working with others or in confined spaces and need to use several tools.
  • Problem-solving – The main task involved with master plumbing is solving problems. Sometimes, you will be faced with challenges you have never dealt with. This is where your problem-solving skills will come in.
  • Interpreting blueprints – During fixtures installation, master plumbers often require blueprints of structures. This helps to perform tasks without interfering with other systems.
  • Mathematics – this helps master plumbers plan for fixtures and others related to plumbing.
  • Technical skills – You will need to familiarize yourself with several tools, equipment, and components, as the industry deals with plenty of machinery.
  1. Sit the Journeyman Plumbing Licensure Exam

After finishing the entire program and gaining skills and experience while working without constant monitoring, you are eligible to take the state licensing exam to advance to a journeyman plumber. It should be noted that the qualifications vary by state; hence crucial to confirm the requirements set by the state you are in. 

The National Inspection Testing and Certification Corporation will issue your journeyman plumbing license (NITC). Vary from state to state; you may be required to renew your license every year or every 3-5 years. You can then begin your work as a journeyman plumber. 

  1. Take the Master Plumbing Licensing Examination

When you have worked as a journeyman plumber for about four years, you will be ready to upgrade to becoming a master plumber. Before sitting the master plumber exam, you must first meet specific requirements. These may include experience as a journeyman plumber and a declaration of lawful presence. The exam will test your skill and knowledge on a vast area, but all concerned with plumbing. Basically, it is everything you have learned throughout the apprenticeship and your journeyman-ship.

The Difference Between a Master Plumber and a Journeyman

Working as a Journeyman Plumber is a crucial prerequisite for becoming a Master Plumber. Even though both are qualified to practice as plumbers, only a Master Plumber is allowed to run a company that employs fellow plumbers. Additionally, they can operate independently and have the same knowledge and capabilities.

Work Environment

All plumbers have different tasks each day. They are competent in installing new plumbing systems, cleaning drains, and understanding pipes, waste disposal, and sewer lines. Plumbers who are journeymen and masters can find employment in homes, companies, power stations, and water treatment plants. A Master Plumber frequently travels with a trainee who serves as his student. To qualify as a journeyman, the trainee must have gained significant experience working alongside a master plumber. 

Master plumbers also hold the accreditation required to oversee other journeyman plumbers. All plumbers can install pipework, put in tubs and toilets, mend sinks, and service water heaters and dishwashers thanks to advanced education and experience. Plumbers design and place complete plumbing systems in business or industrial locations.  Master Plumber is regarded as the primary judgment and director at all worksites with several plumbers.

Specifications for Education

A journeyman plumber must have five years of professional experience under the direction of a master plumber after finishing a certification course. It requires seven to 10 years of study and practice to become a master plumber. This apprenticeship must last for two years as a journeyman plumber. Journeyman plumbers with at least five years of experience and three competence references are given the title of Master Plumber. 

Attending a technical school and receiving a two-year certificate is the best way to prepare for a career as a plumber. Throughout the course, you’ll learn about things like understanding blueprints, waste networks, construction standards, ventilation, fixing home piping, and pipework illustrations.

You will be put in a mentorship after completing your education for four to five years of a high level of involvement. Thanks to this paid work, you will observe the application of everything you learn in the classroom. Afterward, you must finish the state’s regulatory standards and apply to become a Journeyman Plumber. After five years of employment, you can sit a qualifying examination to become a Master Plumber. This exam verifies your knowledge of building standards, national and state regulations, and sophisticated plumbing techniques.

How Much Does a Master Plumber Earn?

The master plumber’s salary may vary based on the type of routine maintenance you conduct and whether you have an independent agency. Nonetheless, the Union members are among those in the industry with the highest salaries. A master plumber additionally operates as a supervisor, a director, or a project leader, each of which pays more than the others.

According to the Department of Labor, 8 percent of plumbers work for themselves. Owning your company may be very lucrative, especially if you offer immediate assistance around-the-clock. Finally, plumbers who work in riskier situations are probably paid more. The BLS reports that steel manufacturing pays the highest wages for plumbers and pipefitters and that construction equipment has the greatest employment opportunities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics aggregates records from plumbers rather than providing particular figures on master plumbers. However, according to the BLS, trainees normally earn less than a journeyman plumber’s average income and increase pay as they gain experience.  According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the basic pay for these people was $26.52 per hour or $55,160 annually in 2019.

The highest 10 percent of earners took home approximately $97,170 annually, while the bottom 10 percent made around $32,690. However, the average annual salary is greater than the $36,000 standard for all construction areas.

There are several strategies to raise your Master Plumber salary. 

  • Employer switch: Take into account a career change to a different company that will pay more for your capabilities. 
  • Education Level: This position may earn you more money and be promoted if you obtain graduate degrees. 
  • Experience in management: When a Master Plumber supervises less experienced Master Plumbers, their chances of earning more money are increased through this competence.

Are There Related Careers to Master Plumbing?

Master plumbers’ occupations are comparable to boilermakers, electricians, technicians, and fitters of heating, conditioning systems, and chillers. To train for their professions, they frequently receive on-the-job instruction, undergo a traineeship, or obtain a diploma. Steam engines, which contain heated liquids and gases, are installed and repaired by boilermakers. They might be applied to house heating. 

Electricians set up and maintain electronic wiring and connections. They could also be employed on construction projects and create designs that specify where power panels and cabling will be installed. Chimneys, air conditioning units, and chillers are fitted and fixed by heating and refrigeration technicians and fitters. They might be required to diagnose an issue and conduct repairs like expert plumbers.


As demonstrated, becoming a master plumber is quite a process, but one worthwhile. As long as you have the required skills and knowledge, your journey to becoming a certified master plumber will be smooth. Remember that the requirements to sit for the tests and examinations might differ depending on your state.

In most states, master plumbers are required to hold a license to practice. After finishing your degree course or traineeship, you must first become a journeyman plumber and earn experience in the field. State-by-state, the minimum amount of work experience necessary often ranges from one to five years.

You can take the master plumber licensure test in your state once you have finalized the necessary amount of journeyman plumber work. Exams assess candidates’ understanding of regional safety laws, plumbing standards, and basic domain expertise, including piping installation work, upkeep, and repair.

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