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Plumbing and Water Supply - Overview


Programs in plumbing and water supply prepare people to work as licensed plumbers or to maintain water and irrigation systems. Students learn to install plumbing fixtures, pipes, and sprinkler systems. They study codes and laws. They also learn how to use tools and read blueprints.

Broken mains, backed-up pipes, and cold water probably trigger most emergency calls to plumbers. Even so, emergencies are only a part of what plumbers do. As a plumber, you need to allot time for regular maintenance and system design - while still planning to help people with immediate repairs.

Most plumbers learn the trade in apprenticeships that take four to five years after high school. Apprentices complete a certain number of classroom hours and receive training on-the-job. You begin working as a helper to an experienced plumber. Each year, you advance your skills by doing more complex tasks. After completing the apprenticeship, you may get trade certification or licensing.

About 45 community colleges offer programs to help students get ready for apprenticeships. These programs take about a year after high school. They typically include some work experience.

In addition, some high schools coordinate vocational programs with community colleges. This allows high school students to take construction courses before they graduate. In some cases, they are prepared for entry-level work after they receive their high school diploma.

During the apprenticeship, you may choose to specialize in:

• Pipefitting
• Plumbing
• Service Mechanic Work
• Sprinkler Fitting

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.
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