Most plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters learn their trade through a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship. Apprentices typically receive 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training, as well as some classroom instruction, each year. In the classroom, apprentices learn safety, local plumbing codes and regulations, and blueprint reading. They also study mathematics, applied physics, and chemistry. Apprenticeship programs are offered by unions and businesses. Although most workers enter apprenticeships directly, some start out as helpers. The Home Builders Institute offers a pre-apprenticeship training program in plumbing and other trades.
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Journeyman plumber: Once the requirements of an apprenticeship are fulfilled, plumbers can apply for a journeyman license. Many workers in the plumbing industry are journeymen. Obtaining a journeyman's license requires a fee and the successful passing of an exam. Licenses vary by state, although not all areas require journeymen to be licensed. Instead, the amount of work they are able to perform is limited.