A plumber apprentice is someone who is learning the trade of plumbing, developing skills which will eventually qualify him or her to become a full-fledged plumber. Because plumbing is a trade in which learning is best accomplished through on the job experience, apprenticeships are mandated by law in many regions of the world, and the terms of apprenticeships are carefully designed to ensure that plumbers get the practical experience they need to work safely and effectively once they are fully qualified.
To become a plumber apprentice, it is usually necessary to register with a government agency. The registration application may include a basic exam which shows that an apprentice has some classroom education as well as work experience, or not, depending on regional requirements. Once a plumber apprentice is registered, he or she can start working under the supervision of a journeyman plumber, contractor, or master plumber.
A plumbing education requires some time in the classroom to learn about basic concepts, and a lot of time in the field. Plumbing apprenticeships can last five years or more, with more requirements for certification as a plumber including thousands of hours of experience. After three years as a plumber apprentice, the apprentice can apply for certification as a journeyman plumber. Once the journeyman has satisfied all of the training requirements, he or she can submit proof of training and take an exam to qualify as a master plumber.
A variety of tasks can be performed by a plumber apprentice. Apprenticeships usually involve practical instruction in how to do something, followed by allowing the apprentice to try it for him or herself under supervision. When the apprentice is competent, he or she can try performing tasks independently, with the work being checked periodically or after the task has been finished to confirm that it was performed correctly.
Apprentices need to learn about the building codes which involve plumbing and plumbing safety, and they need to acquire practical skills which can be utilized in the field. They learn about the various tools available for plumbing activities, the industry standard for various types of plumbing installations and repairs, and the practicalities of running a plumbing business, from making appointments with customers to maintaining a fleet of vehicles used to transport plumbers and equipment. They also learn about topics like installing new plumbing in a structure as it is built, retrofitting existing plumbing, and maintaining plumbing systems to prevent damage.