An apprenticeship is the most common pathway to becoming a plumber. Many unions and businesses mandate that an apprentice receive a minimum of 246 hours of technical education, which could include instruction in math, applied physics and chemistry, and up to 2,000 hours of paid, practical training working with an experienced plumber. Safety training is also an important component of the process, since injuries are common in this line of work. "We have many hours worth of [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] training before we go on to a job site," says Patrick Kellett, the administrative assistant to the general president for the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing, Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia. "We're very conscious of the dangers that come with working in construction."

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Not only do plumber apprentices have to complete their training and education to receive their licenses, they also are required to pass a criminal background check and carry liability insurance. Hiring just anybody can make you vulnerable to fraud since unlicensed plumbers might not know what they're doing or could pretend to fix something and end up charging you for the incomplete work.

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