What is an apprenticeship? 

Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential. 


  • You can get an education and learn a skill without taking on any debt. Most employers pay for their apprentices to participate in a program, or have their own program.
  • You will earn while you learn. When you become an apprentice you are working for a company and getting paid as an employee. No debt, plus income!
  • The pay is good! Check out the median annual pay here, according to the US Bureau of Labor statistics. 
  • There is demand for skilled workers so, your chances of getting a job (and potentially getting a hiring bonus) is great!
  • Want to own your own business someday? These are careers that could lead to you creating and owning your own business
  • Not cut out for the office? 


Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters can learn their trade through apprenticeship programs over the course of 4-5 years, along with on-the-job training.  Most apprenticeship programs are provided by unions, associations, or directly by businesses that train their own employees. Once you complete your apprenticeship program and your required on-the-job hours of training, you would take a state exam to become a journey-level worker. Each state has its own licensing rules and requirements. Explore the Trades has a map of licensing requirements by state here.

The need:

The fact of the matter is - there is a labor shortage in the skilled trades. There is more demand than there are available skilled workers. According to the job outlook from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics job outlook, it's projected there should be about 48,600 openings for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

According to Wide Effect, a top recruiting force for Construction, Maritime, Renewable Energy, Oil & Gas, and Safety Personnel, the top skilled trades in high demand over the next 10 years are: 

  • Electricians
  • Welders
  • Plumbers
  • Home inspectors
  • Aircraft mechanics
  • HVAC technicians
  • Diesel technicians
  • Construction managers

View the US Bureau of Labor statistics occupational data for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters here. Data here includes information on what you do as a plumber or pipefitter or steamfitter, how much you get paid, state by state data and work environment.


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