Plumbing is one of the world's oldest trades. The ancient Romans were one of the first civilizations to use plumbing when they built miles of aqueducts with leaden pipes to carry fresh water to Rome.
Modern plumbers control the flow of liquids that are essential to daily life in our homes, from taking a shower to getting a drink from the kitchen tap. Plumbers also regulate the movement of liquids and gasses that govern operations in businesses and factories. Beginning plumbers often learn the intricacies of the trade through a combination of on-the-job training under the supervision of a journeyperson and technical education at a trade or vocational schools.
Craft workers who begin their careers in plumbing often work in related careers, such as pipefitting, sprinklerfitting or steamfitting; however, workers in all these trades often need to be licensed before they can work independently in the field.
Plumbing degree programs can help trades workers begin their careers. Read on to learn more about the best colleges for plumbing degree programs, as well as scholarship and career outlook information.
Best Colleges for Plumbing Degree Programs
We used many different data points provided by the National Center for Education Statistics to create a unique methodology to rank the following schools. You can read more about our methodology by clicking the button below, or read on to learn more about the best colleges for plumbing.
This small two-year public institution in Presque Isle leads our list of top plumbing schools based on a range of factors, including modest cost of tuition, strong graduation rate and admissions rate, and the fact that it boasts the lowest faculty-to-student ratio of any college in this list at 11:1.
Students enrolled in NMCC's plumbing and heating program learn the basics of the plumbing trade, from installing and maintaining plumbing fixtures to water pumps, drain lines and water lines. Additional coursework covers refrigeration, heating, natural gas and solar systems. Coursework is a mix of classroom instruction and lab work.
Graduates of the NNCC program are eligible to sit for the Maine Plumber's Journeyman Exam and can receive their Journeyman in Training License upon successful completion of the exam. Students can pursue either a one-year certificate or a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree.
This two-year college in Yuma primarily serves residents in the western Arizona counties of Yuma and La Paz. AWC has 11 locations in the two-county service area that spans more than 10,000 square miles.
Arizona Western College offers four programs in plumbing that are aligned with standards set by the National Center for Construction Education Research. They are:
- Occupational certificate in basic plumbing
- Occupational certificate in plumbing technology
- Associate in Applied Science in plumbing
- Associate in Applied Science in plumbing-STEM emphasis
All coursework prepares student for entry-level jobs in the plumbing trade. The college places high in our rankings of best plumbing schools based on its affordable tuition rates as well as its open admissions policy and high number of students enrolled in distance education programs.
The oldest two-year college in the Los Angeles Community College District was founded in 1925 as a trade and technical school. LATTC offers four programs in plumbing:
- Certificate of achievement-plumbing
- Associate of Science in plumbing
- Certificate of achievement-plumbing technology
- Associate of Arts in plumbing: construction technology
The A.A. degree is only offered during the evenings and is for students with full-time jobs in the trade who want to bolster their skills and knowledge of the plumbing industry.
Los Angeles Trade Technical College ranks prominently in our featured colleges for plumbing due to its low cost of tuition. At $1,220, LATTC had the lowest cost of in-state tuition among any institution in these rankings.
This small community college in Baytown, Texas placed sixth among the top colleges for tuition rate, and it was fifth for number of plumbing-related degrees awarded in 2015. It also had an excellent 13:1 student-to-faculty ratio that lends itself to greater interaction with instructors.
The college offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in pipefitting technology that requires 61 credits to complete. Students learn construction basics such as reading blueprints, pipe fabrication and installation, and piping standards and materials. It also offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in process piping and design for students interested in working as pipe drafters -- an in-demand career in oil-rich Texas.
Lee College is a member of the Virtual College of Texas, so students also have the option of completing parts of their coursework online from any VCT member campus.
Located in Elizabethtown, Kent., the fifth institution in our rankings has served residents of south-central Kentucky since 1964. The college has additional campus locations at Fort Knox, Springfield and Leitchfield. Students who earn A.A. or A.S. degrees from ECTC can transfer to any four-year college in the state to complete a bachelor's degree.
Elizabethtown Community and Technical College offers an Associate in Applied Science degree and a plumber-mechanic diploma, as well as nine different plumbing certificate programs. Certificate options include finish plumbing, plumbing estimator, rough plumbing and backflow testing.
The trade school lands in the middle of our featured colleges for plumbing with its open admissions policy and tuition fees of $3,624. ECTC also has a moderate 20:1 student-faculty ratio, and students can take advantage of the college's alternative tuition plans.
Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology was the leader among these 10 colleges for graduation rate. The college is the only public two-year technical college in the state of Pennsylvania. Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology has the stiffest admissions policy of any college in our rankings -- only students who have been Pennsylvania residents for at least one year are accepted.
TSCT offers a two-year plumbing technology associate degree that require 68 credits to complete. 65 percent of students enrolled in the program earned associate degrees, and 100 percent of those graduates found jobs. Students at the school enjoy the flexibility of night and evening classes, as well as academic and career counseling services and job placement upon graduation.
Located at St. Cloud, Minn., this community college is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and University System, the largest postsecondary education system in the state.
St. Cloud Technical and Community College offers both diploma and associate degree programs in plumbing. The diploma requires 37 credits to complete, while the A.A.S. degree requires 60. Both programs teach students the basics of reading blueprints, estimating, Minnesota building codes, and use of soldering and brazing techniques.
SCTCC has an open admissions policy that makes it easy for students interested in plumbing careers to begin their academic journey. Students also can use alternative tuition payment plans to pay for their education at SCTCC.
The eighth institution in this list serves a 13-county region of northeast Iowa from campus locations at Calmar and Peosta and additional service locations throughout the region. The college had the sixth-best graduation rate in our top 10, and it also had a low 13:1 student-faculty ratio.
Northeast Iowa Community College's Business and Community Solutions department offers training in plumbing and HVAC from instructors who have years of first-hand experience in the construction trades. Classes are intended for working plumbers who want to upgrade their skills, or for students who are interested in pursuing a new career path. Coursework covers building codes, plumbing codes, refrigeration, ventilation and more.
Students can complete courses at night or in the evenings, and the college offers academic and career counseling services to help students maintain their footing at school and in the workforce.
Located in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, SUNY Delhi offers two programs for students interested in plumbing careers:
- Associate of Occupational Science-plumbing and electrical instrumentation
- Associate of Occupational Science-plumbing and refrigeration
Students who complete the plumbing and electrical instrumentation program understand the intricacies of the National Electric Code, the International Plumbing Code, and the New York State Code. The plumbing and refrigeration degree program includes coursework in plumbing, heating, pipefitting and air conditioning.
SUNY Delhi was fourth among these institutions in graduation rate. Although the college does not have an open admissions policy, more than half of all applicants were admitted. Students also can attend classes on evenings and weekends, and they receive job placement services upon graduation.
MSU-Northern rounds out our top 10. Located in Havre, Mont., the college serves a large geographical region that includes Montana's largest city and its smallest town from its flagship campus and educational centers at Great Falls and Lewiston.
MSU-Northern's College of Technical Sciences offers an Associate of Applied Science degree in plumbing technology that requires 61 semester credits to complete. It's the only two-year degree program offered by any college in the state of Montana. Students who complete the program are prepared to enter the industry as well-trained apprentice plumbers. The college also offers job placement services for graduates.
With a low 14:1 faculty to student ration, students can expect greater interaction with their instructors and a more personalized educational experience.
Plumbing Degree Programs and Common Career Paths
There are a few different routes to take to become a plumber. A plumbing degree from an accredited institution can open the doors to more opportunity down the line; learn about which degrees can lead you into a plumbing career, and what plumbing careers are out there.
Most schools with plumbing and plumbing technology programs offer either a one-year certificate in plumbing or a two-year associate degree. Completion of these programs can help students land jobs as apprentice plumbers -- it typically takes several years of on-the-job training to become a journey-level plumber or pipefitter.
Career Outlook for Plumbing Majors
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters is expected to increase over the next several. However, construction employment has historically been directly tied into fluctuations in the national economy.
PROJECTED JOB GROWTH(%)
|Helpers--Pipelayers, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||$32,570||54,710||15.6%|
|Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters||$58,150||438,070||13.6%|
Financial aid and scholarships in Plumbing
Students can tap into federal financial aid to help pay their tuition fees, and they also can pursue a number of scholarships and aid programs to help newcomers to the plumbing industry. Home Advisor offers a skilled labor scholarship, and Pippin Brothers Home Services of Oklahoma also offers a number of trade-related scholarships.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific subject being ranked.
- Offer an undergraduate degree (either associate or bachelor’s) in that subject.
- Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in the most recent year of IPEDS data available.
Based on those criteria, we ranked all 2-year and 4-year schools in IPEDS that reported data for all of the following points. Ratings are calculated on a 10-point scale, using the weights specified.
- In-state undergraduate tuition & fees, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Graduation rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Accessibility, based on admissions rate, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Institutional spending, based on two equally weighted factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Instructional and academic support expenses per full-time enrolled student
- Instructional and academic support spending as a percentage of all expenses
- Student-to-faculty ratio, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Flexibility, based on the following factors, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Percent of students enrolled fully or partly in distance education
- Whether the school offers programs that can be completed entirely in the evenings and on weekends
- Whether the school offers academic and career counseling
- Whether the school offers job placement services for students who complete their programs
- Whether the school offers any alternative tuition plans, such as a payment plan or guaranteed rate
- Size of program, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded in 2014-15 were in this particular subject, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Related subjects, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered at any level, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Most Recent Cohorts (All Data Elements): 2016-17, College Scorecard, U.S. Department of Education, https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data/
- History of Plumbing, SafePlumbing.org, https://www.safeplumbing.org/what-is-safeplumbing/by-the-numbers/timeline
- Plumbers, Pipefitters, Steamfitters, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/plumbers-pipefitters-and-steamfitters.htm
- Plumbing and Heating, Northern Maine Community College, http://www.nmcc.edu/academics/programs/academic-programs/plumbing-heating/
- Construction and Technology-Plumbing, Arizona Western College, https://www.azwestern.edu/career-and-technical-education/construction-and-technology
- Plumbing, Los Angeles Trade Technical College, http://college.lattc.edu/docs/catalog/factsheets/Plumbing.pdf
- Pipefitting Technology, Lee College, http://catalog.lee.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=10&poid=1246&returnto=281
- Plumbing Technology, Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, https://elizabethtown.kctcs.edu/academics/programs_of_study/plumbing_technology.aspx
- Plumbing Technology, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, https://stevenscollege.edu/academics/associate-degrees/plumbing-technology/
- Performance Measures, Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, https://stevenscollege.edu/plumbing-technology-performance-measures/
- Plumbing, St. Cloud Technical and Community College, http://www.sctcc.edu/plumbing
- Trades and Industry, Plumbing, Northeast Iowa Community College, https://www.nicc.edu/trainingandoutreach/tradesandindustry/
- Plumbing and Refrigeration, SUNY Delhi, http://www.delhi.edu/academics/majors-programs/associates/plumbing-heating-refrigeration/index.php
- Plumbing and Electrical Instrumentation, SUNY Delhi, http://www.delhi.edu/academics/majors-programs/associates/plumbing-electrical-instrumentation/index.php
- Plumbing technology, Montana State University-Northern, http://www.msun.edu/academics/cots/program-Plumbing.aspx
- Job Outlook, Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters, Occupational Employment Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/plumbers-pipefitters-and-steamfitters.htm#tab-6
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