Plumber education & training requirements + costs

Plumbers receive most of their training on-the-job through apprenticeship programs, but some may also attend trade school or community college. Learn more about those options and the costs for each.

Plumber career snapshot

Median pay

$59,880 ($28.79/hr)

Required degrees


10-year job growth

5% (Average)

There are many paths available to obtain the training and education required to become a plumber, including trade school, community college, and pursuing an apprenticeship. 

Each can get you going on your path to becoming a plumber, but each has its pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look at each of the ways you can get the plumbing education and training.

Plumbing education & training options

Plumbing trade school

Trade school is a great option to get the education and training needed to become a plumber.

If your goal is to get in, learn what is necessary to become a plumber, and get out, then trade school is a great option for you. Taking this path will allow you to avoid all of the unrelated courses like history and English, and only learn what is directly applicable to your future career.

Plumbing trade school can be completed in 1 to 2 years, and typically costs between $1,250 and $3,000. Trade school will prepare you for entry level work and initial certification exams.

Community college

Getting an Associate’s degree from a community college is a great option if you are looking to own your own business someday. It gives you the opportunity to take business courses along with plumbing related courses. It will also give you the chance to get a more well rounded education with history and English courses.

Community college typically takes about two years to complete and costs about $3,440 per year on average.

Plumbing apprenticeship

An apprenticeship is the most cost effective option to obtain the necessary training to become a plumber. Instead of paying, like you would do with trade school or community college, an apprenticeship allows you to get paid to learn.

Department of Labor apprenticeship programs typically take between four to five years and include 144 hours of classwork and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training per year.

How does plumbing training cost?

There are multiple options to get the training and education required to become a plumber. Each option has pros and cons, but these options give a viable path for people in a variety of life circumstances.

One factor you may want to consider when deciding which is best for you is how much each will cost. This guide goes over exactly that so you can figure out which makes the most sense for your situation.

Program Cost Length of program
Plumbing School (Certificate Program) Up to $15,000 Up to 18 months
Plumbing School (Associates Degree) Up to $40,000 Up to 2 years
Plumbing Apprenticeship Typically Free Up to 5 years

Plumbing trade school cost

Overview: You can attend plumbing trade school to learn the necessary skills and to get your plumbing certificate. Some examples of plumbing trade schools are J.F. Ingram State Technical College, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, and Mission College.

Cost: Plumbing trade school typically costs between $1,250 and $3,000. The average cost for J.F. Ingram Technical College, for example, is $5,472, for Los Angeles Trade Technical College is $1,238 (in-state) and $9,012 (out-of-state), and for Mission College is $1,204 (in-state) and $8,572 (out-of-state).

Time Required: It typically takes 1 to 2 years to complete plumbing trade school.

Work Opportunities: After completing plumbing trade school and obtaining the certifications required in your area, you will have the opportunity to work for plumbing companies around the country.

Community college for plumbing costs

Overview: Another method to obtain training for a plumbing career is to get an Associate’s degree. Some examples of Associate’s degree programs include Red Rocks Community College, City College of San Francisco, and Kirkwood Community College.

Cost: It typically costs between $5,000 and $40,000 to get an Associate’s degree. The estimated tuition for Red Rocks Community college is $3,169 (in-state) and $13,145 (out-of-state) per year. The estimated tuition for City College of San Francisco is $1,598 (in-state) and $7,554 (out-of-state) per year. The estimated tuition for Kirkwood Community College is $4,194 (in-state) and $5,034 (out-of-state) per year.

Time Required: Typically, the time it takes to get an Associate’s degree is two years.

Work Opportunities: After getting an Associate’s degree and obtaining the certifications required in your area, you will have the opportunity to work for plumbing companies around the country.

Plumber apprenticeship cost

Overview: An apprenticeship is a great way to learn the ins and outs of plumbing while being paid. New apprenticeship opportunities are always opening and a great place to start looking is

Cost: FREE, and you may even get paid.

Time Required: Apprenticeships typically take 4 to 5 years to complete but this depends on the specific apprenticeship.

Work Opportunities: After your apprenticeship, you may have the opportunity to get a full-time job with the same company, or you can try to look for a new company to work for.

How to Pay for Plumbing Training/Education

  • Apply for grants. Grants are a great option to pay for plumbing school as they don’t not need to be paid back. The downside to grants is that they can be hard to get as most have strict eligibility requirements and are very competitive.
  • Apply for scholarships. Scholarships are another great option to pay for plumbing school and are not required to be paid back. Like grants, scholarships are competitive and are usually not easy to obtain.
  • Fill out the FAFSA. If you are attending a college, you can use the FAFSA to show you what grants, scholarships, and loans you qualify for with a single application.
  • Use savings. Another option to pay for plumbing school is to use savings. This is the best option if you have the cash available because it would not require any debt. Unfortunately, most people do not have enough money on hand to pay for school out of pocket.