Online learning is a large and fast-growing industry, and it hasn’t left the trades behind. Would-be apprentices or DIYers can take courses online to learn more about a bevy of construction specialties. For instance, folks looking for distance-style plumbing courses have several routes they can go to learn more about the trade and sharpen their skills.
But with so many options to choose from, how does one know which are the best online plumbing courses? The following guide will help sort through the ins and outs of online plumbing courses. Prospective students will learn about what these courses are, what they aren’t, and how they work. Keep reading to find out more about these online plumbing schools.
- BEST OVERALL: Penn Foster Career School
- RUNNER-UP: Ashworth College
- ALSO CONSIDER: Udemy
What to Consider When Choosing One of the Best Online Plumbing Courses
In the grand scheme of things, online plumbing school is relatively affordable. But before plunging into a new plumbing academy, it’s important to know how the courses work, what they’ll prepare students for, and their limitations. The following sections will outline some of the most important things to consider when choosing the best online courses for plumbing.
Diplomas and Certification
As with traditional learning environments, many online plumbing classes provide students who successfully pass the curriculum with an online plumbing certification or career diploma. This piece of paper symbolizes that the student read the coursework, learned the material, and showed proficiency in the subject matter during testing. These certifications can be helpful when applying for a job or when detailing personal ability to a building inspector during the permit process.
However, do understand that these certifications do not automatically make a student a licensed plumber, nor do they make students an apprentice. Instead, they serve as a stepping stone into the trade and show that applicants aren’t totally green, making them more attractive candidates for some of the best plumbing services.
So, while these certifications and diplomas are important, they are not licenses to go into the world and contract as a plumber.
Course Length, Structure, and Curriculum
Nothing worth learning will happen overnight, and learning plumbing online is no exception. Most online plumbing academies offer courses that take up to 1 to 2 years to complete. During this length of time, the student will take courses on different topics such as types of pipes and fittings, as well as reading blueprints and schematics.
In most cases, these courses are self-paced, meaning the student can work as often or as seldom as they’d like. There aren’t any strict deadlines or exam dates. However, there is often a cap on how long the student can take overall, which is usually the 1- or 2-year mark.
While most plumbing courses are affordable, there is an initial investment that future alums should be aware of. Tuition ranges between roughly $10 for an individual class from a general online skill-sharing site and $1,000 for a full program from an actual online trade school for plumbing.
What the student receives in exchange for the tuition depends on the platform. Skill-sharing sites are 100 percent online and may not even culminate with an exam or certification. But the cost savings and generally high production value are the benefit. On the other hand, some courses provide books, workbooks, and mobile-friendly apps. This allows the student to learn not only at their own pace but also at their convenience, taking courses from anywhere they have downtime.
One search of YouTube will result in a host of folks selling their online courses for plumbing, carpentry, electrical, and other trades. But it’s important to note that very few of these courses have any accreditation at all. That doesn’t mean online learning is a total free-for-all, though. There are certain accrediting bodies that review and certify courses for the consumer.
The DEAC (Distance Education Accrediting Commission) and the IACET (International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training) are two of these certifying bodies. Courses with these accreditations have to pass the organizations’ requirements. Passing the requirements doesn’t necessarily certify a coursework’s quality, but it certifies that the school is legitimate. With so many online schools out there, these certifications might be important to some students.
In some cases, a new student might sign up for the courses but then realize that they aren’t for them. Whether it be that the courses are too remedial for their work experience or that the course load is too much for them, they gave it a shot and it turned out to be a bad fit. Are they stuck paying the tuition?
Some technical schools for plumbing offer money-back guarantees, but it’s typically within a set time. Most courses allow the student to start and then contact the school within roughly 6 or 7 days to cancel enrollment and request their money back. This guarantee can mean a lot for semi-interested students considering taking the leap.
Our Top Picks
That’s a lot of background on the best online plumbing courses, but it still might be difficult to narrow the field. For even more help, check out the following three options. They include some of the top choices for online plumbing academies and courses, but be sure to keep the above considerations in mind when choosing.
Why It Made the Cut: With certifications from DEAC, IACET, and others, the Penn Foster Career School offers high-quality courses from a legitimate and established distance-learning institution.
For those looking for as comprehensive an online plumbing course as they can get, Penn Foster Career School is worth a look. This school’s distance-learning history stretches back to the 1890s, making Penn Foster (then known as International Correspondence Schools) the first distance-learning institution in the U.S. And the DEAC, IACET, and Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation bring real legitimacy to the program.
Students taking the Penn Foster Career School plumbing course commit to 8 to 12 months of coursework. They’ll receive comprehensive and interactive learning materials like mobile access, videos, and study guides. Through this program, they’ll learn about fitting pipes, codes (local, state, and national), schematics and blueprints, and how to install fixtures and mechanical equipment.
While the cost is relatively high compared to other programs, Penn Foster has three flexible payment options to lower the barrier of entry for many prospective students. There is also a money-back guarantee, which is good up to 6 days after starting class. Also, the ability to pursue both a high school diploma and the plumbing career diploma simultaneously can shorten the overall timeline for students looking to jump into the workforce.
- Certification: Plumbing career diploma
- Price: $964
- Course length: 8 to 12 months
- Accreditation: DEAC, IACET, MSA-CESS
- Money-back guarantee: Within 6 days of course start
- Comprehensive, interactive learning materials
- Option to pursue plumbing career path and high school diploma simultaneously
- Three flexible tuition payment options
- Accredited by the DEAC, IACET, and MSA-CESS
Why It Made the Cut: As a course developed by practicing professional plumbers, the information provided by Ashworth College is sure to be on point.
While an online course can’t quite replace an apprenticeship under an experienced mentor, Ashworth College’s program might be the next best thing. Designed by active, practicing professional plumbers, these courses are sure to provide practical information and techniques that other courses don’t. And, with DEAC accreditation, legitimacy doesn’t need to be a concern.
The Ashworth College plumbing career diploma program takes 9 to 12 months and it sets students up with detailed books and study guides, as well as career guidance and time management. Students will learn about plumbing codes, kitchen and bath layouts, the important math for plumbers, and schematics and drawings. While customer service might be a bit lacking, students will have unlimited access to tutoring, Ashworth College Central Network (the school’s education platform) during and after course completion, as well as ProQuest, an online source for scholarly and research articles.
- Certification: Plumbing career diploma
- Price: $959
- Course length: 4 to 12 months
- Accreditation: DEAC
- Money-back guarantee: Within 5 days of course start
- Course developed by practicing professionals
- Continued access to Ashworth College Central Network after course completion
- ProQuest digital access included in tuition
- Reports of customer support being difficult to communicate with
Why It Made the Cut: As Udemy is one of the leaders in the online skill-sharing marketplace, prospective students can compare courses offered by different creators to ensure they find a good fit.
Udemy isn’t a plumbing school. It isn’t even really a school at all. It’s an online database of courses put together by experienced professionals so they can share their skills with the masses. For many online plumbing school hopefuls, the courses from Udemy might be the best fit.
A quick search through Udemy’s database results in courses for designers, licensing applicants, plumbing math, and how to become a plumbing professional. Each course has reviews and ratings displayed on the course page as well. Prices range between $12.99 and $99.99, and Udemy Personal subscribers can access all of Udemy’s material for an affordable monthly fee. With the selection and prices, Udemy users can choose just the course they want to take without a huge investment. While there aren’t any accreditations for the individual courses, most courses do offer a certificate of completion. Reviews and ratings are also available for each course, so students can quickly determine if a course is right for them. The 30-day money-back guarantee on all courses (other than the Udemy Personal subscription) limits the risk for those concerned with getting enough value for their money.
- Certification: Certificate of completion
- Price: Starting at $12.99
- Course length: 30 minutes to 19 hours
- Accreditation: None
- Money-back guarantee: Within 30 days of purchase
- Students can focus on specific areas of plumbing, including system basics and design
- Udemy Personal subscription provides access to all courses at no additional cost
- Reviews and ratings for each course are displayed on the course page
- Lack of consistency in class quality
- Money-back guarantee not included with Udemy Personal subscription
- No accreditation status after course completion
Overall, Penn Foster Career School’s long history, interactive platform, and multiple accreditations mean that prospective plumbing students are sure to get their money’s worth from the program. Ashworth College’s course is designed by working professionals, and it’s another solid choice.
How We Chose the Best Online Plumbing Courses
As one will find out, a lot goes into choosing the best online plumbing courses. In order to provide a list of top-notch learning platforms, we took the job of researching very seriously.
First, we looked into several plumbing programs and compared their offerings. We looked into the different courses, the materials (interactive and otherwise), as well as the instructors. Next, we looked at the pros and cons of each school, weighing them out to ensure that any negatives were more than offset by positives. Finally, we compared accreditation, cost, and money-back guarantees to ensure that there was enough value for the student to warrant a spot on our list.
Before You Choose One of the Best Online Plumbing Courses
There are a few additional thoughts to ponder before jumping right into a new online plumbing school. First, consider the program or school’s age. A long track record can be helpful in determining whether a school is offering enough value to its students.
Also, understand that these courses do not make students into plumbers. They provide the basic background information that many would-be plumbers might need to get started in the plumbing trade. Becoming a certified, licensed plumber takes years of hands-on experience, and these courses are just a foot in the door.
Finally, ensure that the time required is viable with regard to family, personal, or professional obligations. Starting a course while not being able to finish it will result in a waste of time and money, and it could start a bright plumbing career off on a sour note.
Cost of Taking One the Best Online Plumbing Courses
The cost of taking one of the best online plumbing courses is certainly a factor. In general, full- length courses from accredited schools cost around $1,000. Most schools offer tuition payment plans, and some employers might offer reimbursement, but it’s important to know how much this will cost up front.
Also, consider this point: While $1,000 isn’t a sum of money to dismiss, it does pale in comparison to the amount of money a successful plumber will make. No, the career diplomas don’t make plumbers, but they might make folks who are interested in the plumbing trade a bit more attractive to a prospective employer.
The Advantages of Taking One of the Best Online Plumbing Courses
Online plumbing courses allow students to work at their own pace. Rather than leaving work early every Tuesday evening for an in-person class, these courses allow students to attend class, perform work, and watch lectures on their time. There’s a real appeal to this schedule for folks trying to balance family life and continuing education.
Internet-based plumbing academies help students become familiar with the trade. This allows the student to decide whether or not the plumbing trade is the career they want to pursue before committing to leaving their current jobs.
Online learning programs often provide their students with money-back guarantees. While some might have a few hoops to jump through, those who request their money back in time have very little risk.
- Students have the ability to set their schedules around their family, personal, and professional lives.
- Online programs offer a low-commitment option for students who want to explore a career change without having to leap in and leave their jobs.
- Money-back guarantees lessen the risk involved for students.
Even with all of that background on the best online plumbing schools, some questions could be floating around. The following is a collection of some of the most frequently asked questions about these programs. Be sure to check for an answer to your question below.
Q. Is plumbing difficult to learn?
Becoming a master plumber requires years of experience and practical exams. However, it’s possible for most folks with a strong work ethic and determination to learn the trade one skill at a time.
Q. What qualifications do plumbers need?
In most cases, entry-level plumbing apprentices need a high school diploma, a clean background, and a valid driver’s license. Journeyman and master-level plumbers require a certain length of time in the trade as well as passing practical exams.
Q. What is the highest degree you can get in plumbing?
While not exactly a plumber, a degree in mechanical engineering is the most applicable high-level degree. For practical plumbing licenses, master plumber is the highest level.
Q. How long does it take to become a qualified plumber?
Most plumbing apprenticeship programs last around 4 years, at which point the apprentice can apply for examination.
Q. Can I become a plumber at the age of 40?
There are no maximum age restrictions on becoming a plumber. With the shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry, more folks are leaving the office for hands-on careers.
Q. Do plumbers deal with poop?
Poop is definitely one of the stinkiest aspects of a plumber’s job, but there are far more facets of the job that don’t involve the icky stuff. Installing plumbing pipes, water heaters, baseboard heaters, bathroom fixtures, water filtration systems, and even AC units can fall under the duties of the average plumber. Poop’s just a small (or big, depending) part of the gig.
Q. How much do plumbers make per hour?
The average licensed plumber makes around $29 an hour. However, as plumbing is a trade prone to emergency calls, plumbers can expect their share of overtime, and folks in those emergencies are often willing to tip. Also, many plumbers go into business for themselves to make as much money as possible.