Differences Between an Apprentice, a Journeyman, And a Master Plumber
Unless you’re in the construction or plumbing industry, you may not know there are different types of plumbers based on experience and accreditation. Read along to understand what are the similarities and differences in the different levels of plumbers.
The Plumbing Apprentice
This is the start of a plumber’s career path. As a plumber apprentice, they might be doing plumbing jobs under the guidance of either a journeyman or a master plumber. If ever there was a perfect definition for “on-the-job training,” this would be it. Some of the responsibilities might be for coursework during the apprenticeship, and some schools programs usually take up to 5 years to complete and include both classroom and supervised on-the-job training.
These registered apprenticeships are extremely important to the plumbing industry. It’s how the state and industry maintains its high level of professionalism and skills and is a form of mentorship highly valued around the world. Some may apply for an interview for a program just as you would apply for a job. Apprenticeship programs are provided through trade schools, industry organizations, state programs and service companies.
So again, apprentice plumbers are basically a plumber in training. While working as an apprentice, they will work alongside both journeyman and master plumbers as they install, inspect, maintain and repair piping systems. Apprentices bear the responsibility for assisting the main plumber on the job by carrying supplies, handling tools and working on minor repairs. In addition, apprentice plumbers will need to study building codes, learn to read blueprints and perfect their skills with the tools of the trade. Though this is a lot for a person to learn, an apprentice plumber has the advantage of earning a living wage while training for a future career.
The Journeyman Plumber
Once a plumber has completed their apprenticeship, they will be qualified to work as a journeyman plumber. The journeyman can work with much less oversight than they can as an apprentice, although they will still often be required to work under a master plumber. Journeyman status plumbers can both supervise and train apprentices in the trade. A journeyman plumber will need to have worked for at least 2 years as a journeyman prior to being tested qualified as a master plumber in most states.
The Master Plumber
Master Plumbers are at the top of their careers. These are the only plumbers who can work with complete independence, supervise other plumbers or run a plumbing business. As a master plumber, they will be responsible for the work of the journeyman and apprentice plumbers who work under their supervision. Obtaining permits and meeting building code requirements also fall under the jurisdiction of the master plumber. In addition to this, the master plumber is the only plumber who can design a plumbing system and create schematics for other tradespeople to follow. Reaching the level of master plumber comes with a lot of responsibility and independence.
North Carolina Plumbing License
North Carolina is different than a lot of other states in that you have a plumbing license. To be licensed in NC as a plumber you have to have worked under a licensed plumber for 2 years and half of that time has to be hands on work related. Then you must pass a state plumbing exam. There are different levels of state license required depending on the amount of the contracted projects you are taking on.
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