A GUIDE ON PLUMBING IN CALIFORNIA
As per data provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS), there are approximately 47,600 people employed in the plumbing sector in California. Situated in the Pacific region of the United States of America, California is the most populous US state. California’s economy stands at a whooping gross state product of $3.0 trillion and is the largest sub-national economy of the world. Over the years, California has emerged as a global trendsetter in terms of culture, politics, economics and development. The diversified economy has also enhanced the scope for various occupations. Water use in California has a political angle too. In this interesting environment, we wish to focus on the career prospects of a plumber and provide a detailed guide on plumbing in California.
As mentioned above, there are about 47,600 people working as plumbers, pipefitters and steam-fitters in California which is the highest in any state of the USA. 2.72 out of every 1000 persons are employed in this industry. Plumbers enjoy an hourly wage of $31.13. The average annual salary of a plumber in California is $65,326. Wages typically start from $32,820 and can go up to $103,180. The top 3 cities in California in terms of highest wages for plumbers are; El Cajon, Rancho Cucamonga and Riverside. Most plumbers tend to opt for union contract jobs because these offer pension and health benefits in addition to guaranteed wages. The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an economic fallout but the plumbing industry has been expected to accelerate in the coming five years. It has been projected that there will be a resurgence in construction activities which will fuel the demand for installation services and consequently repair services too. Increase in investments for construction are also likely to benefit the industry operators and contribute substantially to the growth in revenue.
WHAT INSURANCE IS REQUIRED FOR PLUMBERS IN CALIFORNIA:
Even with the most skillful workers, things can and do in fact go wrong. In the state of California, it is the California Department of Insurance which regulates insurance policies. The Workers’ Compensation Insurance is the only type of insurance that is mandatory for business owners. However, there are various types of coverage that business owners could look into. The amount of coverage recommended varies depending on the size of the business in the plumbing industry. Hence all those who wish to become plumbing contractors and start their own business, may have the following types of insurances.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance – This insurance covers the healthcare expenses of employees who are injured while on the job, or while performing duties that are related to the job.
- Property Insurance – To protect the business property, tools and instruments of the trade.
- Commercial Vehicle Insurance – Auto insurance policy to protect the commercial vehicle that carries the equipment and is used to drive the site of work.
- Plumbers Liability Insurance – It is an extension of the general liability insurance. And will offer coverage for damages caused during new installation, damages to existing pipes and damages caused by gas explosions.
- Pollution Liability Insurance – It covers incidents connected to pollutants including legal and medical expenses.
- Business Owners’ Policy- This type of insurance is tailored to suit the needs of different contractors allows them to carry on their business at peace without having to worry about the other aspects of work. It protects them from the unprecedented financial disasters like damage to the site of work or loss of equipment.
HOW TO BECOME A PLUMBER IN CALIFORNIA:
- High School or GED Certificate
- College Degree or Vocational Courses (Optional)
- Journey-man experience
- Pass the Licensing Tests
Provided here is a step by step guide on how to become a plumber in California:
In order to work as a plumber in California, it is mandatory to be registered as a journeyman. The first step towards becoming a plumber is acquiring the necessary educational qualifications. A high school diploma or GED is a mandatory requirement. There are also a number of trade schools and community colleges that teach plumbing courses. Those who are interested can opt for these courses that teach how to repair leaky pipes and install boilers, furnaces, hot water tanks, sewer lines, sprinkler systems and water well systems, how to read blueprints and select the right tools for each repair.
HOW TO BECOME AN APPRENTICE PLUMBER IN CALIFORNIA:
Usually, trade schools provide the resources that are required to join an apprenticeship program. These programs give plumbers an opportunity to work alongside professional plumbers to learn the required skills of their profession. They usually work for 5-6 days a week. A number of unions also offer training programs. UA Local 342 is one of the many unions of California. In California, the official website of the state government also lists out a number of apprenticeship programs. These last for abut 2-3 years and the coursework includes formal classes as well as practical training components. After the completion of their apprenticeship, a plumber must work as a journeyman for four years before they can apply for the master plumber license.
HOW TO BECOME A LICENSED MASTER PLUMBER IN CALIFORNIA:
There are a few requirements that must be ticked before one can apply for a plumbing license in California:
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- Must hold a high school diploma or GED
- Must have knowledge of how to use computers
- Must submit a full set of fingerprints
- Must pass a substance abuse test
- Must undergo a criminal background check
- Must know basic math
- Must have journeyman, supervisor or foreman experience of 4 years
- Must have 1 year of practical experience
Plumbers must take the California Plumbing License exam to work as a licensed contractor in California. There are two exams that a candidate needs to pass in order to acquire a license. One exam revolves around trade knowledge in the field of plumbing, while the other deals with law and business related to plumbing.
The California Plumbing Exam has five major sections. These are:
- Planning and Estimating
- Rough-in Plumbing Systems
- Finish Plumbing Installations
- Service, Repair, and Remodel Plumbing Systems
- Worker and Job Site Safety
The licensing procedure is fully supervised by the California Contractors’ State Licensing Board. It is also this board that regulates plumbers throughout California. This board also provides up-to-date information about the licensing application process as well study materials that might benefit applicants. There is a fee of $480 that must be paid. In the last step, in addition to the documents, applicants are also required to prove that they have working capital of a minimum of $250. A California Plumbing License is valid only in the state of California. It must be renewed every 2 years and the fee for renewal is $400.
PLUMBING SCHOOLS IN CALIFORNIA:
A number of trade schools or community colleges offer vocational courses in plumbing. These courses are not a mandatory requirement for becoming a plumber but they do add substantial weightage to a plumber’s resume. This works as a referral while looking for an apprenticeship program as candidates who have a vocational degree have some previous knowledge and are already accustomed to some of the basic rules of the trade. This section of the article will focus on the top plumbing schools in three of the biggest cities of California – Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
BEST PLUMBING SCHOOLS IN LOS ANGELES:
Los Angeles is the largest city in California with an estimated population of four million people. The city has a diversified economy and a sprawling metropolis. Today, LA has established itself as the third largest economic metropolitan area of the world.
- Los Angeles City College (LACC) offers an online course – Foundations of Plumbing. It is a 1-year course with 145 hours of training. This course gives students the basic skills that are necessary to make them job-ready. The students are provided with in-depth knowledge from course materials that are developed by experts in the industry. By the end of the course, students possess the specialized skill-set and technical knowledge necessary to start a career in the plumbing and piping industry through an apprenticeship program. The course fee for this program is $2,195.
- A very well-known school for plumbing training is the Los Angeles Trade Technical College. It is a community college. The students who get enrolled in the Plumbing Degree and Certificate program, are required to devote 24 hours a week in order to attend the hands-on training sessions with laboratory equipment. 2-year program prepares students for employment in the field of plumbing. After the completion of the program, students are able to utilise the tools with efficiency, construct plumbing systems and maintain plumbing codes.
2. BEST PLUMBING SCHOOLS IN SAN DIEGO:
San Diego is situated on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and with a population of 1,423,851, is the second largest city in California. This city is the economic centre of the region, opening up an array of possibilities for a number of professions.
- The San Diego City College offers a number of vocational courses in plumbing. The courses are of varying lengths, depending on the coursework and number of units. A vast range of topics are covered – from state codes to math to installation of plumbing systems. Depending on the area of interest, students can opt for any of these courses.
- An exact course like that offered by LACC, is also offered by the San Diego State University. The coursework and fee structure are the same too.
- San Diego Continuing Education is another college in the city that offers three courses in plumbing. The basic course deals with pipe installation, water distribution etc. The intermediary course deals with plumbing codes and the advanced training ultimately teaches designing of layouts, specialized systems, coding, safety requirements etc.
3. BEST PLUMBING SCHOOLS IN SAN FRANCISCO:
San Francisco (SF) is the fourth most populous city in California with a headcount of 881,549 residents as of 2019. San Francisco is the cultural, commercial and financial centre of North California. SF has been recognised as a “global city” – one that has an ethnic cluster, technological innovation and international connectivity. As of 2020, those working in San Francisco received the highest salaries and it was the seventh highest-income city in the USA.
- The City College of San Francisco offer an extremely reputed plumbing apprenticeship program that allows student to learn and earn simultaneously. It takes 60 months for the completion of the program where students receive classroom training in addition to practical experience.
Over the years the population of California has grown manifold and so has the economic sector. According to the official statistics provided by the Education and Development Department of the State of California, employment in the plumbing industry is expected to grow by 20.2% between 2016 and 2026. It has also been projected by the BLS that a number of opportunities might be created in the construction industry. With a surge in the demand for environmentally sound re-modelling, the demand for plumbing services are expected to grow.