The plumbing trade is one of the largest in the building industry, ensuring the nation has safe drinking water. Following blueprints, plumbers install and repair water, waste disposal, drainage and gas systems in buildings. They also install plumbing fixtures, like showers, sinks and toilets, and appliances, like dishwashers, garbage disposals and water heaters.

Plumbers work indoors and out, sometimes in wet and damp areas. Using heavy and rough material, the work is physically demanding—bending, lifting, kneeling and standing for long periods. If you like working with your hands and have an eye for detail, plumbing may be the trade for you!


Pre-apprentice plumbing programs teach skills and techniques employers look or in entry-level plumbers. Skills include:

  • Cutting and joining pipe
  • Installing, repairing and testing plumbing systems
  • Installing fixtures and appliances
  • Using green building techniques to reduce resources and conserve water
  • Depending on geographic location, students also may learn the basics of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) or how to install and maintain solar thermal systems.

Career Opportunities

Job growth is expected to be faster than most of the other building trades through 2018. A growing emphasis on water conservation will require retrofitting of existing homes, increasing the demand for skilled plumbers. Land developers, general contractors and remodelers are examples of businesses that might hire entry-level plumbers. In addition to a pre-apprentice plumber, the skills an HBI student learns can transfer to other specialties like pipe layer, HVAC installer, mechanical insulation worker, solar installer or maintenance and repair worker.

HBI graduates earn about $10 to $12 an hour in their first plumbing jobs. As skills are expanded through our full apprenticeships or on the job training, so are career options. Pay increases significantly also after becoming fully certified.


  • General Contractor
  • Master Plumber
  • Service Contractor
  • Foreman
  • Journeyperson
  • Apprentice
  • Plumber’s Helper