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."
Before calling a plumber, try to unclog your drains and toilets yourself by using a plunger. Make sure you use a standard bell-shaped plunger for your sink and shower drains and a plunger with a flanged end for your toilets. If neither type can loosen the pipe blockage, put a plumber's snake to use. Ratchet the snake down the pipe to eliminate any clogs.