Before starting an apprenticeship, many plumbing students choose to take a plumbing program at a technical school or community college. There are three main types of plumbing credentials available: diplomas, certificates, and degrees. What is the difference between these types of degrees and which one is best for you?
In general, a diploma program focuses on hands-on learning of the skills required for a particular occupation. Diploma programs usually take one to two years to complete, though some may be shorter. Students in plumbing diploma programs learn the basic skills necessary to install, repair, and maintain plumbing lines and fixtures. They also study the basic math and science topics required for the trade, as well as learn about codes and standards and how to read blueprints. Much of a student’s time in a diploma program is spent getting essential practical experience.
Certificate programs are usually shorter than diploma programs—ranging from a couple of months to a year. There are two main types of certificate programs: one for beginning students learning about the trade for the first time, and one for advanced students looking to enhance or update their skills. Students in certificate programs take courses in math, blueprint reading, and other essential topics, but compared to diplomas these programs don’t usually involves as much hands-on training. However, keep in mind that certificate programs may differ across schools and states, so you may find some certificate programs that are just as comprehensive as diploma programs.
An associate’s degree in applied science is a two-year degree in which students take both general education courses and technical skills courses. Students in plumbing programs may take courses in math, English, social science, and business alongside their technical training in plumbing codes and standards, plumbing layout and estimating, and plumbing practices and installation.
All three of these credentials can prepare you for an apprenticeship, so which one is right for you? There are two main factors to consider when deciding what type of plumbing program to attend. First, what are the requirements to be eligible for a plumber’s license in your area? The requirements vary across states and localities, so before enrolling in any program, ensure that the credential you earn will be worth your time and energy. Second, what are your career goals? If you plan to own your own plumbing business someday or want to get into more advanced areas of the field, you might want to consider earning an associate’s degree, which will provide you will a more well-rounded education than a diploma or certificate program. Once you know your state and local requirements and have a plan for your career, you will be able to choose the training program best able to prepare you to succeed.
Nicolet College. Degrees, diplomas, certificates.
Cleveland Community College. Plumbing diploma.
Pennsylvania College of Technology. Plumbing.
Los Angeles Trade-Tech. Plumbing technology associate in science degree.