Making the decision to obtain a career in the trade industry is always a good choice. However, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start, who to turn to, and what are the specific requirements. For those wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma, there are several steps you can take to get you started on your journey toward being a plumber! Below are several tips and advice for you to follow before making the decision to dedicate your career to plumbing.
1. Consider the Career Prospects
Before you consider any time of career, it’s important to research how beneficial it will be for you and your family. If you’re interested in learning how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma, start by first researching the career prospects of plumbing, the number of jobs available in Oklahoma, and how much of a salary you will earn being a plumber.
In Oklahoma, a professional plumber can make anywhere between $27 and $33 dollars per hour. This is an excellent hourly rate and is about the same as the surrounding states of Texas and New Mexico. Oklahoma also pays slightly more than more populated states such as Florida and Tennessee. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs are also projected to grow at a rate of 5%, meaning you’re in good shape to find jobs and apprenticeships.
2. Ask Yourself If You’re Physically Ready
Being a plumber can be a great paying career, but it can also be physically demanding. From working on drain cleaning and pipes to bending, twisting, climbing ladders, and being in uncomfortable positions, being a plumber is no walk in the park. If you have pre-existing issues such as musculoskeletal ailments or back pain, consider talking to your doctor or engaging in physical therapy before devoting your career to being a plumber.
3. Get Your GED
If you’re wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma, the state of Oklahoma first requires you to work as an apprentice for a plumbing company either as a commercial or residential plumber. Most plumbing companies will require you to have a high school diploma or a GED before you can be registered as an apprentice with them. If you don’t have a high school diploma, it’s best to obtain your GED to ensure you’ll be qualified to start an apprenticeship. Consider taking night classes if you work during the daytime, or take home-schooling education courses to complete your GED coursework. Afterward, you can take your GED exam either online or at a testing site in Oklahoma. Remember, you need to be 18 years or older or have a parent or legal guardian present if you are 16 or 17. To obtain a plumbing license in Oklahoma, however, you will need to be 18 years or older.
4. Get a Vocational Technical Degree
A vocational technical degree is also known as a career tech diploma. They are offered at local community colleges as well as through private technical schools in Oklahoma. For those wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma with a vocational technical degree, it all depends on the hours of schooling you attend. The state of Oklahoma requires all plumbing journeymen to have 3 years of experience in an apprenticeship. However, if you have a career technology degree with 500 hours of schooling, this counts as one year of experience.
5. Get Your Associates Degree
Associates degrees can also be used instead of a career tech degree to substitute for apprenticeship experience. An associate’s degree, unlike a vocational technical degree, is awarded through a 2-year or community college and requires general education courses in addition to plumbing coursework. Many colleges offer associates of science degrees in plumbing, which you can use to substitute for 2 years of apprenticeship training granted you have 1,000 hours of schoolwork under your belt. Check with your local community colleges to see if they offer an associate degree in plumbing. This will give you the knowledge and prepare you to work as a commercial plumber or as a residential plumber.
6. Consider Joining the Military
The state of Oklahoma also allows military service to count as experience towards an apprenticeship and a journeyman’s license. The U.S. Army offers plumbing jobs under the code ’12k,’ which can train you to do 24 hour emergency plumbing in various locations, pipe fitting, construction, and planning. The U.S. Army also offers nationally recognized certifications in plumbing if you’d like your skills to transfer to the private sector once you decide to discharge from the military. If you’re considering a career in plumbing, but also want the added benefits of being in the military, choosing a career in plumbing in the military is a great option. Keep in mind you will need to score an 88 or above on your ASVAB exam, which is the military entrance exam, as well as undergo 10 weeks of training to be a plumber. However, you can use these skills to apply for a journeyman’s license in Oklahoma after you are discharged.
7. Research Highly-Reviewed Plumbing Companies
If you’re wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma with just a degree, consider that once you’ve obtained your associate’s or career tech degree, you will still need another year of apprenticeship training before you can apply for a plumbing license. To obtain that extra year of training, start researching highly-reviewed plumbing companies in your area. This will ensure that you’re not only receiving the best training but also have a company that is reputable and looks great on a resume once you decide to move on and work as a journeyman.
8. Interview Apprenticeship Mentors
Once you’ve found several reputable and certified plumbing companies, you’ll want to call each of them up and ask several questions. This mini-interview should help you get an idea of what each offers. Do they pay for their apprenticeships? Do they have time to train you? Have they had experience training apprentices before? These are all essential questions you should ask before choosing a company to help you for the next one to three years.
9. Ensure There Are Few Apprentices With You
The state of Oklahoma only recognizes apprenticeships if the journeyman or contractor is training no more than three apprentices at a time. If you find a company that wants to train 10 or 20 apprentices, it’s best to seek a smaller company that has a mentor who can help you learn hands-on and devote more time to perfecting your skills.
10. Purchase Studying Materials
During your apprenticeship, you’ll want to learn as much as you can to prepare for the journeyman test and to be a plumber in general. Don’t be afraid to bring a notepad and pencils with you to write down notes, ask questions, and help you learn how to be a plumber. Research has shown that handwriting notes is a great way of retaining information and can help you truly understand concepts.
11. Review Your Notes
You should spend a couple of hours every day after work and in between work reviewing your notes. This will help you be prepared when it comes time to take an exam, and also help you become a better plumber. Feel free to visit forums, join a study group with other apprentices, or even review Youtube videos on your days off to learn as much as possible.
12. Ask Questions
Journeymen and contractors have all been in your shoes before, and they should all be able to understand just how important your apprenticeship is to your plumbing career. Feel free to ask questions other than how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma to your mentors. Anything from concepts you don’t understand, to differences in commercial and residential plumbing, even customer service questions and practices are all great questions to ask your mentors. You should also ask them about specific state laws Oklahoma has, as this is a big part of your journeyman exam.
13. Do More Hands-On Work
Don’t be afraid to get down and dirty during your apprenticeship. Never do anything that you are not qualified to do or that is unsafe. If your journeyman or contractor gives you permission to do more hands-on work, feel free to get as much experience as you can. If you’re wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma, keep in mind you will need to know how to do hands-on work as well as answer test questions. You can easily study for a test, but obtaining the hands-on skills to become a plumber can be much more difficult. Take advantage of your apprenticeship by volunteering to do more hands-on tasks, such as assembling pipes, cleaning job sites, and assisting in tasks such as tankless water heater installation.
14. Fill Out Your Plumbing License Application
After you complete your three years of apprenticeship or one to two years of apprenticeship with a degree, you’ll have to fill out the plumbing license application for Oklahoma. For those wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma, you must first fill out the application along with a $75 fee for a journeyman license, or a $300 for a plumbing contractor‘s license.
15. Pay for Your Journeyman Exam
The journeyman exam itself costs $100. You must pass the exam by scoring a 75% or more on all sections. Remember that you can only take your journeyman exam after your application to take the exam has been approved and all your apprenticeship hours and schooling have been verified.
16. Study Oklahoma Laws and Industry Regulations
A big part of your plumbing exam includes Oklahoma state laws and industry regulations for plumbing. This includes a proper protocol for plumbing maintenance, international plumbing codes, plumbing code regulations, and terminology used for plumbers and contractors. You can find the study materials for the journeyman exam online, including mathematics courses, rules and regulations, and more. Search online for these materials, as they are subject to change every year. You’ll want to make sure whatever you are studying is not outdated information.
17. Use Another Out-of-State License
If you’re wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma if you’re already a licensed plumber in another state, you can certainly transfer your license over so long as it is in good standing. The state of Oklahoma will allow you to take their plumbing examination and use your out-of-state license in lieu of the three years of apprenticeship they traditionally require. You will still have to pass the exam and pay all associated fees.
18. Take the Journeyman Exam
When the day comes to take the journeyman exam, you’ll want to be well-rested and ready to take the exam with a clear head. It’s important to get enough sleep the day before your exam. You can also practice relaxation and deep breathing techniques right before the exam to help you relax. Taking deep breaths and relaxing can take away any test anxiety you might feel and help you score better. Before your exam, make sure not to cram for any information, as cramming has been shown to be ineffective at helping you learn and retain new information. Cramming for your exam could actually stress you out even more!
19. Work Under a Licensed Plumbing Contractor
Congratulations! Once you pass your journeyman exam, you can now work as a licensed plumbing journeyman under a plumbing contractor. This is a great opportunity for you to gain more money, train other apprentices that started off just like you and gain more skills and valuable experience in the plumbing industry.
20. Start Working on Being a Contractor
Why stop at being a journeyman? For those wondering how to become a licensed plumber in Oklahoma after you’ve passed your journeyman exam, you are eligible to apply for your contractor exam. Licensed plumbing contractors can have their own business, which can be extremely lucrative in the plumbing industry. Before you take your plumbing contractor exam you must have an additional year of plumbing experience working as a journeyman, for a total of four years of experience.
Becoming a licensed plumber in Oklahoma takes dedication. You must undergo several years of schooling and apprenticeship training in order to be fully qualified to work as a licensed journeyman plumber. However, this is a great career with a great starting pay and a project job growth of 5%. Reach out to schools or plumbing companies today to see how you can get started.