Becoming a Plumber in NYC
November 6, 2012 1:23 PM Subscribe
I'm interested in becoming a plumber. The local union has told me that its doors are closed for the next two years, so I'm looking for workarounds...
posted by incomple to work & money (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Currently I'm a project manager at an architecture firm in New York CIty. Though I like my current position just fine, my opportunities for advancement are nonexistent, and my continued employment is dependent on a shaky economy. The dream is to be self-employed, doing something that will give me a nice living, which is also relatively recession-proof. Plumbing seems like an obvious thing to fit these criteria (and it otherwise appeals to me for a variety of reasons).
My obvious first step was to contact the local union to see about acquiring an apprentice position, but I was informed (politely) that they allow 1000 applicants to apply for 100 apprenticeship positions just once every two years, and when that time comes, people line up for weeks just to apply. (The person I spoke to described it as "like American Idol auditions, but for plumbin', instead of singin' or whatever," a comparison that I found funny enough to share.)
So, I'm considering the union a no-go. And now, I turn to you: Outside of the local union, what are other possible ways to enter the profession, ideally while also maintaining a living wage? (I know I could ask any of the plumbers who work on my job sites, but as my boss has a close relationship with all of them, it's likely that he would hear of my desire to leave my job.)
The obvious solution seems to start educating myself outside of a formal apprenticeship, and then trying to acquire a position in a non-union shop that will get me the experience to eventually apply to become a licensed master plumber... As my first priority is to be self-employed, this actually seems to be a better solution than going through the union, but I honestly don't know if this is feasible. I would love to hear the hive mind's thoughts on this, as well as any other suggestions.