Interior Plumbing

How Much Does Plumbing School Typically Cost?

Students interested in enrolling in plumbing school can expect to pay between $1,000 and $30,000, or an average of $3,000, but this can be the first step toward a promising career in plumbing.
Plumbing School Cost

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Highlights

  • The typical cost for plumbing school ranges from $1,000 to $30,000, with a national average cost of $3,000.
  • The exact cost to attend plumbing school will depend on the tuition fees, the type of school and type of program, the cost of tools and equipment, and the cost of textbooks.
  • Plumbing school provides numerous benefits for students, including flexibility, well-rounded instruction, the ability to specialize, and the ability to network.

The plumbing industry is essential to the ongoing function of widespread city infrastructure, so it’s a good option for those looking to find an in-demand career. Individuals can pursue a license in plumbing through an apprenticeship program, an online plumbing school, technical schools for plumbing, or a community college that offers vocational training.

“Getting into the industry typically involves formal training by way of an apprenticeship or trade school,” says James De Meo, master plumber and HVAC engineer with This Fixed House, a home improvement and repairs company in Montgomery, Alabama. “[An apprenticeship] … still seems to be the most common route. An apprenticeship combines on-the-job training with classroom theory and practical instruction. Most programs take 2 to 5 years to complete. Some people choose to attend vocational or trade schools offering plumbing courses. This is a formal education process which is typically followed with an apprenticeship.”

The cost of a plumbing school can range significantly depending on the program type, school type, tool costs, textbook costs, and for students who have to relocate, living expenses. Aspiring plumbers can expect to pay between $1,000 and $30,000, and UniversityHQ reports that the average cost to attend plumbing school is $3,000. If plumbing repair, installation, and maintenance seem appealing, students can learn more about the factors that affect plumbing school cost before planning out the steps on this career path.

Factors in Calculating Plumbing School Cost

Plumbing School Cost
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Students need to pay tuition fees to be enrolled in their program of choice, so it’s a good idea for them to have a firm plumbing school cost estimate before applying to plumber trade schools or an online program. Additionally, it’s recommended for students to look into plumbing school requirements for local plumbing schools to better understand what is necessary to enroll.

Tuition Fees

As with most schools, the most important factor for students to consider when assessing costs is tuition. The tuition for a school is essentially the amount the student must pay to enroll in a course. For some schools, tuition covers only the course itself, whereas other schools may include tools, plumbing equipment, and textbooks in the tuition cost. With this in mind, it’s important for students to review what is included with the cost of tuition before enrolling in a plumbing school.

Depending on the length of the program and the type of school, tuition fees can range widely from $1,000 to $30,000 for plumbing school in the U.S. Short programs that run only 1 or 2 years will typically cost less than full associate degree programs, though the tuition fees can also vary among schools. Newly accredited schools may charge less than established trade schools in order to attract more students. However, these schools can sometimes lack a deep roster of well-rounded educators, so students will want to research each school thoroughly before deciding where to study.

School and Program Type

Students seeking a career in plumbing do not need to pursue this job through a singular path because there are several plumbing school types that can help prospective plumbers reach their goals. It’s possible that students can choose to take on a full-time apprenticeship with an established plumber, study plumbing through an online certification program, attend a trade school, or enroll at a community college that offers trade school courses. The cost varies depending on the educational path. Similarly, the type of program can affect the overall cost of plumbing school.

  • Plumbing certificate programs provide a heavy focus on technical skills and are usually short-term. Courses for certificate programs typically include working on domestic water systems, sanitary drainage systems, irrigation systems, and gas piping systems. Students can expect to spend about $1,000 to $3,000 for a plumbing certificate program.
  • Plumbing diploma programs take about 2 years to complete and provide basic training for entry-level positions at a plumbing company. These programs go slightly more in depth than plumbing certificate programs, though they also have a higher cost, ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.
  • Plumbing associate degrees are the longest and most expensive choice for plumbing school. These programs can range from 2 to 4 years depending on the specific school and course selection. Students will likely spend between $10,000 to $30,000 to complete a plumbing associate degree.

Tools and Equipment

Having the necessary tools of the trade is essential so students can learn various plumbing tips and practical plumbing skills. Depending on the school, the cost of tuition may also cover a small supply of basic tools for the job. However, this is not the case at all plumbing schools, so if the tools are not provided, students will need to make this purchase themselves in order to keep up with the hands-on portion of the curriculum.

Similarly, individuals who choose to pursue an apprenticeship instead of attending a plumbing school will need to invest in tools to complete work on a daily basis. Some of the most common tools used in this profession are listed below, though this is in no way an exhaustive list of the tools that a plumber may need on the job.

  • Pipe wrench
  • Basin wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Faucet key
  • Hacksaw
  • Pipe cutters
  • Torch
  • Pliers
  • Hand auger
  • Inspection camera
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Heat shields/pads
  • PEX pipe expander and fittings
  • Crimpers
  • Stubby screwdriver
  • Flow rate calculator
  • Pipe volume calculator

Textbooks

As is true of any textbooks required for post-secondary education, textbooks for a plumbing school can put a significant dent in a student’s budget. However, students may not be limited to purchasing textbooks from the school, so they may be able to find used or discounted copies for sale. Additionally, some schools may include the cost of textbooks with the tuition fees. If this is the case, then the student doesn’t need to worry about purchasing textbooks separately.

For most students, plumbing school textbooks for the entire program will cost between $500 and $1,000 throughout the program. Students can consider renting textbooks from online retailers or sharing the expense with another student. Individuals can also apply for scholarships or grants to help cover the cost of tuition, tools, and textbooks.

Additional Costs and Considerations

Beyond the basic costs for plumbing school, there are several additional factors for students to consider when studying to become a plumber. Students will also need to budget for certification fees, licensing fees, living expenses, and any ongoing education opportunities they wish to pursue. Additionally, if the student is moving from a rural town to a major urban center for school, they may see an increase in the cost of living.

Certification and Licensing Fees

In order to become an apprentice plumber, journeyman plumber, or master plumber, an individual needs to pay certification fees and licensing fees. Also, plumbers have to pay renewal fees about once every 1 to 2 years to keep their plumbing license. However, the exact fees an individual may pay for this career differ widely from state to state, so it’s important that plumbers stay up to date on the local plumber requirements put in place by their state or municipality.

To become a certified plumber, individuals are required to pass a basic aptitude exam and pay the certification fees, which range from $100 to $500. After obtaining their certification, plumbers will need to apply for a plumbing license and pay an associated fee, which ranges from $50 to $300. Depending on the state, plumbers may then be asked to pay renewal fees every 1 to 2 years, which cost about $50 to $200.

Living Expenses

No matter what program a student is attending, living expenses will always need to be a factor to keep in mind. Students need a place to sleep, transportation to and from school, and food to keep them energized while they study. If a student decides to study at a local plumbing school, then they may be able to live at home while commuting to school using the local public transportation system. This is the most cost-effective way to manage living expenses.

However, not every student has the option of staying with family while studying to become a plumber. Some may need to find housing on campus, if available, or seek out an apartment or house nearby. Similarly, if the town does not have a public transportation system or if the commute would take too long, then it may be beneficial for the student to invest in a vehicle. Additionally, students can cut down on costs by purchasing food from local grocery stores, instead of eating out.

Geographic Location

The location of the school can impact the overall cost to study plumbing in several ways. Some states do not have specific requirements for a plumbing license, while other states have a rigid set of steps that must be followed for a student to acquire a license in plumbing. Due to this discrepancy in educational requirements, some schools located in areas with low licensing requirements may offer plumbing courses at a reduced cost.

Another factor for students to consider is the cost of living in the area. Students who move to a large urban center may find that the cost of rent, food, transportation, and other services is much higher than it was in their rural hometown. If a student plans to move to a new city to study, it’s recommended that they do some research into the local prices before making the move.

Ongoing Education

After completing an apprenticeship program and becoming a licensed journeyman plumber, many individuals choose to remain at this level for the duration of their career. Others may decide to pursue a master plumber certification, which typically includes in-class education and about 2 to 4 years of hands-on experience studying under a licensed master plumber.

Taking this step will come with additional tuition costs for ongoing educational studies, but with a journeyman plumber salary and steady work, the fees are more manageable. However, even for plumbers who do not pursue a master plumber license, the state may still require them to take continuing education courses, which can cost about $50 to $200 per course.

Plumbing School Cost
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Types of Plumbing Schools

There are several different paths an individual can take to become a certified and licensed plumber. The cost of plumbing education can vary depending on which path the individual chooses to take, so it’s a good idea to learn more about the types of plumbing schools before deciding on the best route toward a career in plumbing.

Type of Plumbing SchoolAverage Cost
Community college$1,000 to $30,000
Online plumbing school$2,000 to $10,000
Plumbing apprenticeship$0
Trade school$1,000 to $7,500

Community College

One way to pursue a career in plumbing is to study at a community college. This can be a good way for students to save on the cost of schooling, given that a plumbing certificate program may cost just $1,000 to $3,000. However, plumbing students looking to complete a full associate degree in plumbing from a community college may spend between $10,000 and $30,000.

The average tuition for a public community college is about $3,500 per year. It’s important to note, however, that many locations may have low or no-cost tuition options for residents of a specific state, city, or country. If this applies to the student in question, then pursuing plumbing education through a community college may be the most affordable way to reach this career goal.

Online Plumbing School

Online plumbing school programs are relatively new in the industry, so there is a wide range in the cost for this educational opportunity, stretching from $2,000 to $10,000. Additionally, the quality of education a student receives can vary, so it’s important for students to look for accredited schools that have a good reputation with employers in the area, as well as successful school alumni.

Taking one or more of the best online plumbing courses can be a great choice for a student who doesn’t have the time to commute to a physical school every day. The student can work and study at their own pace while acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to pursue a career in plumbing. However, it’s a good idea for students to work with local professionals to get hands-on training while they study through an online plumbing school.

Plumbing Apprenticeship

The most cost-effective way to pursue a career in plumbing is to join a plumbing apprenticeship program. A plumbing apprentice who is working under a master plumber will receive compensation for their time and work instead of paying money to an educational institution. This makes it easier to pay for housing, transportation, and food expenses while actively working toward a journeyman plumber license.

Individuals who have graduated from high school or received a GED can become an apprentice plumber after taking an initial aptitude test and finding a master plumber to study under. During an apprenticeship, apprentice plumbers will gain real-world experiences in the plumbing industry, and they may also study in class to further round out their knowledge. Once their apprenticeship has ended, they may find it easier to get a full-time job with one of the best plumbing services.

“I have found the best way to learn is hands-on,” says Bill Bruininga, owner of Billy’s Plumbing & Rooter in Chatsworth, California. “Find a reputable plumbing company with work and show up ready to work. In the beginning, it will be labor intensive, and you have to be willing to work through anything.”

Trade School

One of the most common options for a student coming out of high school is to apply to a trade school program. Also referred to as technical schools or vocational schools, trade schools offer programs that are targeted toward specific careers. Plumbing services is just one option. There are also electrician programs, pipe fitter programs, carpenter programs, and more.

Typically, a plumbing student will study for about 2 years to acquire a certification or diploma from a trade school. This short timeline to completion is one of the best reasons to enroll in a trade school, though it’s important for students to budget for the plumbing school cost. Students can plan to spend about $1,000 to $7,500 for a trade school plumbing program.

Benefits of Choosing Plumbing School

While an apprenticeship program can be an effective way for a student to pursue a career in plumbing, studying diligently at an established and accredited plumbing school can ensure the student gets a well-rounded education. Plumbing schools can even help introduce students to unfamiliar plumbing systems and point them toward specializations within the plumbing field.

Flexibility

One of the top reasons to study at a plumbing school is flexibility. Students work with the school to select the necessary courses they need to graduate. Typically, a plumbing school or community college will offer courses both during the day and in the evening, giving students the ability to set a class schedule that works around part-time jobs and other commitments.

Online plumbing schools take things a step further by allowing students to study independently at their own pace. Generally, students are given the course materials, including a course outline, suggested study pace, and a recommended timeline for completion. Once students have completed all necessary class assignments, quizzes, and tests, they take a final exam to demonstrate their proficiency in the subject.

Well-Rounded Instruction

The best part of studying at a plumbing school is the education students will receive from professional instructors who have worked in the industry for years. The teachers are skilled and experienced with plumbing systems, and each offers instruction on specific areas of the industry, such as residential plumbing, water heater installation, drain cleaning, and more.

A good plumbing school will incorporate both in-class learning and hands-on education, allowing the students to practice new skills and become more familiar with common plumbing tools. This environment is also conducive to critical thinking, encouraging students to figure out how to assess a problem and come up with a successful solution.

Specialization

When studying at a plumbing school, students will first learn the basics for this trade. They will be taught about the various tools that are commonly used, as well as some of the go-to skills that will be necessary on a daily basis. After successfully learning general plumbing skills, students can further their education by choosing a specialization.

Specializations in the plumbing field refer to a specific job or task that is not commonly handled by general plumbers, such as replacing water heaters or installing boilers. Students will want to spend some time researching the demand for various specializations in the area where they want to work, so they can invest their time in a profitable specialty.

Networking

During their time at a plumbing school, students will be able to connect with peers, work with teachers, and seek out job opportunities with affiliated businesses and school alumni. Whether a student is simply attending class, working on a school project in a group, or signing up for a work-study program, they can use these interactions to build a solid network of professionals in the plumbing industry.

Dedicated students may even be able to use this growing network to get a job, or they may hang on to these connections until they start their own plumbing company, then use this network to reach out to hire new employees. Similarly, students may be able to form connections with individuals from other trades, which can lead to work referrals from other industry pros.

Plumbing School Cost
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How to Save Money on Plumbing School Cost

Before students can learn new skills to become productive members of society who can contribute effectively to the growth and health of the economy, they will need to pay for and complete the required schooling. Plumbing school ranges in cost from $1,000 to $30,000, depending on the type of school, type of program, and several additional cost factors. With this in mind, it’s important for students to find ways to save on the cost of plumbing school. The following methods can reduce the cost of plumbing education.

  • Apply for scholarships and grants. Students can reduce the overall plumbing school cost when they qualify for school scholarships or grants.
  • Join a work-study program. A work-study program allows students to work part-time to help cover education expenses.
  • Take on an apprenticeship. Plumbing apprentices are paid for their work, so students can further their practical education while receiving a fair wage.

Questions to Ask About Plumbing School 

Choosing a career path is an important decision. Before deciding on a trade school, community college, or online plumbing school, it’s recommended for students to research the educational institution to determine if cost, course offerings, and level of education are suitable for achieving future career goals. Prospective students will want to reach out to school staff and alumni to ask some key questions about the school and plumbing program.

  • Is the school accredited?
  • What vocational programs are available?
  • Does the school offer day and evening classes?
  • Are online courses available?
  • Does the school help with job placement assistance?
  • Are textbooks, tools, and refresher courses included in the tuition cost?
  • Does the school have a good reputation with industry employers?
  • Are there tuition reimbursement or incentive programs available for graduates?
  • Can I earn credits while still in high school?
  • Is interview coaching taught during the program?
  • At what rate do graduates get hired in their field of study?
  • What financial aid or scholarship opportunities does the school offer?
  • Does the school have housing services?
  • How soon can I start working in the plumbing industry?
  • What will the class schedule be like?
  • Will I be able to take on an apprenticeship at the same time?

FAQs

Students can step into a promising career as a plumber after completing the necessary education and passing the licensing test. The answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about plumbing as a career can help students determine if this is the right path for their future.

Q. What is the average salary for a plumber?

Before starting down the path toward becoming a professional plumber, it’s good for students to know exactly what to expect in terms of an annual salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a licensed plumber will make about $60,090 per year, while the hourly rate is about $28.89.

Q. Are plumbers in demand in the U.S.?

There are many circumstances that require emergency plumbing services, such as when a drain clogs completely or a pipe bursts and floods the home. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that plumbers have a positive job outlook for the future. In fact, the employment of plumbers is expected to grow about 2 percent from 2022 to 2032, which is a healthy growth rate for the occupation.

Q. What is the highest level of plumber?

Apprentice plumbers often work 3 to 5 years before taking their journeyman plumber license test. After successfully becoming a journeyman plumber, an individual can pursue a master plumber license. The master plumber certification is considered the highest level a plumber can achieve.

Q. What state pays plumbers the most?

For those who aren’t tied to their hometown, there are many opportunities to increase annual earnings by relocating to a different state. The state that pays plumbers the most is California, with an average hourly wage of $35.75 and an average annual wage of $74,360. Texas is second on this list, with a significantly lower average hourly wage of $26.58 and an average annual wage of $55,280. However, students will want to bear in mind that plumber costs will be higher in states with a high cost of living, so they may prefer to live in a state with a lower wage and a lower cost of living to get the most out of their salary.

Sources: Trade Schools, Colleges and Universities, University HQ, Bureau of Labor Statistics, PlumbingJobs.com