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  • Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out :D

    Hey Guys,
    My name is Austin, I am new to this forum.
    I am trying to become an apprentice for a plumbing and steamfitting union in Los Angeles. I am finding it very difficult to get sponsered. I have a few questions as well for people who have gone through the 4-5 year apprenticeship programs.

    1. Currently, I know nothing about plumbing but learn very quickly. Should I go to a trade school and get a year or so of classes in before?
    2. Is it mandatory to go to school before entering the apprenticeship?
    3. Is it possible to even get in without knowledge of plumbing?
    4. What is the quickest way to find an actual union to sponser me for the apprenticeship?
    5. What pays better; Steam fitters or plumbers?

    And I apologize in advanced if I am posting this in the wrong section =[

    I was going to school to be an EMT. But the pay is not so goreat. I have been working in Sales and other office Jobs. My mind wonders and I am way too creative to keep myself locked up in a boring repetitive 9-5 job. I am great with my hands. When I work on home projects my concentration is always 100% and I would like to open up my own plumbing company by the time I am 25-26.

    Any tips would really help.

  • #2
    Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

    The first thing I will tell you is not to give up. My class started out at 23 and ended up with 11.

    Secondly, make sure this is really what you want to do. I won't go into the details but it almost has to be "more than a job" because you will find yourself contemplating your life in ditch with a shovel.

    Now, don't beat yourself up about the experience thing. Some guys were blessed with fathers, uncles who raised them in plumbing, you were not so don't dwell on it. You can still get in.

    When I tried to get a sponsor/employer I was told no more times than I can remember. Some were very rude and I often walked out debating if all plumbers were as-holes.
    Anyone can tear a man down, few can build one up.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

      Does anyone have any connections out here near Los Angeles, California. I decided this i what I want to do. I actually really like physical labor. I worked in Commercial Engineering Contracting. I excelled. But at the end of the day I knew I would shoot myself in the head if I did this any more. I want to become a plumber.I know if an employer gave me a shot I will exceed their normal expectations.Any tips on sources of where to look for an employer to sponser me would be GREATLY APPRECIATED.Also, I was considering construction work until i found a sponser. Is that a good ideA?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

        here's the deal

        i was lucky because i had a foot in the door when i graduated high school. back then it was a 4 year apprenticeship.

        as far as i know now, it's 5 years with typically a 1 year pre apprenticeship. this way they can give you a test run without all the schooling to commit to.

        sounds like you're looking into local #250 plumbers and fitters union.

        you can also check with local 78 plumbers union out of downtown los angeles. problem is work is still slow and chances are they have too many out of work to hire on new people.

        have a talk with them and pick their brain. even go visit them. they are just off the 110 and 9th. street. talk to the apprenticeship person and tell them your desire.

        you can also start calling some of the local union shops and see if they need a driver or shop warehouse guy. this is an easy way to get in the door and prove your worth. they are the ones that will get you into the apprenticeship.

        i can tell you it's well worth it and you'll have a lifetime career.

        timing is everything and so is getting a chance.

        good luck and stick around

        there's more to learn on this forum that any trade school can teach you. plus we don't take attendance and class starts anytime you're up

        rick.
        phoebe it is

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

          I went to the Union run school in Compton in 1981. It was 4 years back then. My father owned a plumbing company and my brother and I still had to be on a waiting list for awhile before we got in. I had to commute from Orange County 2 nights a week. It was a great education as alot of the teachers were inspectors too! The old journeymen on the job taught me the most! One thing you have to realize is plumbing being a construction trade, can leave you unemployed for long periods during recesions like this. This is the 3rd one I have experienced in my carreer. Since I am doing service and repair now it pays the bills. Have a backup plan for income if you can so you won't go hungry while pursueing your goal of being Journeyman. Take all the elective classes you can to make yourself more sellable: Medical gas piping and brazing, welding certifications, pipefitting corses, high purity piping, etc. Good luck!
          Last edited by plumb4life; 01-15-2010, 11:29 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

            Originally posted by plumb4life View Post
            I went to the Union run school in Compton in 1981. It was 4 years back then.
            i too was in that class

            could we be long lost brothers small world.

            send joey a p.m.

            rick.
            phoebe it is

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

              Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
              i too was in that class

              could we be long lost brothers small world.

              send joey a p.m.

              rick.
              Rick

              Could you explain in the simplest terms where the plumbers union is involved in your apprenticeship as in Melbourne Australia all I had to do was find a qualified plumber to take me on as an apprentice for five years and at the time go to the apprenticeship commision and after three months sign the indenture papers and your life away do one day a fortnight and two night a week schooling and say yes get the lunches and that was it.

              Tony

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

                tony, although i worked for the same shop my entire 4 year apprenticeship, the union was ultimately the one i had to answer to.

                basically they are suppose to send you to different shops on a regular basis to give you exposure to all the different aspects of the trade. we filled out our apprenticeship books and turned them in every 6 months. everything from residential, service, commercial, industrial, hospitals. they would review your entries and were suppose to send you to other shops.

                that never happened.

                they also send you to their union apprenticeship school for the 4 years of instruction. 2 times a week 6:30 pm- 9:45pm from sept.- june. just like k-12 the on the job experience is at work.
                the instructors were a combination of inspectors, and journeymen plumbers. most real sharp, a few not
                now i hear it's 5 years and school is every other week for a full day. no pay.

                i enjoyed the school, just not the drive at rush hour

                rick.
                phoebe it is

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

                  The Union hires you, educates you, then places you. All they are is a big referral company. Contractors sign contracts with the Union to receive licensed plumbers. In return they pay set wages and benefits, and follow certain guidelines.

                  Its all one big happy family!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

                    "I am trying to become an apprentice for a plumbing and steamfitting union.... I am finding it very difficult to get sponsored."

                    Spatcha
                    I'm afraid it might have something to do with the economy. Right now, contractors aren't hiring. They're just trying to keep busy enough to keep the doors open until things turn around. In my local, apprentices who've been laid off are being told by the hall that it may be 6-9 months until they get dispatched to a job.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

                      Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                      here's the deal

                      i was lucky because i had a foot in the door when i graduated high school. back then it was a 4 year apprenticeship.

                      as far as i know now, it's 5 years with typically a 1 year pre apprenticeship. this way they can give you a test run without all the schooling to commit to.

                      sounds like you're looking into local #250 plumbers and fitters union.

                      you can also check with local 78 plumbers union out of downtown los angeles. problem is work is still slow and chances are they have too many out of work to hire on new people.

                      have a talk with them and pick their brain. even go visit them. they are just off the 110 and 9th. street. talk to the apprenticeship person and tell them your desire.

                      you can also start calling some of the local union shops and see if they need a driver or shop warehouse guy. this is an easy way to get in the door and prove your worth. they are the ones that will get you into the apprenticeship.

                      i can tell you it's well worth it and you'll have a lifetime career.

                      timing is everything and so is getting a chance.

                      good luck and stick around

                      there's more to learn on this forum that any trade school can teach you. plus we don't take attendance and class starts anytime you're up

                      rick.
                      What Rick has outlined here is probably your best shot at a union apprenticeship. If you can get in with a shop as a truck driver then you will get to see what the trade is about and the people there will get to know you. Many locals are not even taking apprentices at this time since work is so bad. There is no use starting if there is no work. OJT accounts for a good portion of your training and you're required by the DOL to obtain so many hours of OJT in addition to classroom training over the 5 years.

                      Work is slow all around the country right now. And maybe that is good that you realize that you an expect to see something like this again before you retire. The money is good when the work is there yes, but you need to keep your head and plan for the rainy days because they WILL come along now and then.

                      I haven't seen the work situation this bad since the late 70s. There was a period in the 80s when it was slow across the country but no as bad as now. When I applied and took the test I got accepted but there was no work. It was almost 2 years before work picked up and I got on with a local plumbing shop. That was 1976.
                      ---------------
                      Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                      ---------------
                      “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                      ---------
                      "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                      ---------
                      sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Why is getting into a plumbers Union so hard? Help a kid out

                        Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                        tony, although i worked for the same shop my entire 4 year apprenticeship, the union was ultimately the one i had to answer to.

                        basically they are suppose to send you to different shops on a regular basis to give you exposure to all the different aspects of the trade. we filled out our apprenticeship books and turned them in every 6 months. everything from residential, service, commercial, industrial, hospitals. they would review your entries and were suppose to send you to other shops.

                        that never happened.

                        they also send you to their union apprenticeship school for the 4 years of instruction. 2 times a week 6:30 pm- 9:45pm from sept.- june. just like k-12 the on the job experience is at work.
                        the instructors were a combination of inspectors, and journeymen plumbers. most real sharp, a few not
                        now i hear it's 5 years and school is every other week for a full day. no pay.

                        i enjoyed the school, just not the drive at rush hour

                        rick.
                        Rick

                        Now I get it The Master Plumber Association here hires plumbing apprentices and leases them out to plumbers for a certain period of time who in turn train them and that can be with any number of plumbers in all facets of plumbing but are indentured to the Master Plumber Association.
                        I was lucky the plumber I did my apprentership with did it all but I didn`t like commercial so I specialise in domestic maintance in and out payed on completion I like my feet on the ground now so guttering and roofing are out

                        Tony

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