Apprentice Training

Apprentice training in Plumbers Local Union No. 1 is not just a "job". It is a structured learning system that leads to a career. The education and experience received by an apprentice plumber is lifelong training for a career in the Plumbing Industry. This has been our tradition and it has continued to thrive, grow, and expand over time. In ancient times apprenticeship was known in relation to indentured servitude and the gradual exchange of knowledge from Master to Apprentice. This relationship and informal training continued into the modern era in the skilled trades. Formal structured apprenticeship training as we know it in the United States today was initiated by the plumbing trade with the approval of the first nationally recognized apprenticeship program.

From the mid-1800’s plumbers had struggled to formalize rules regarding the training of new apprentices. Local journeymen’s associations, master plumber’s societies, and early unions established a variety of programs, but there was great variation in methods and practices. In 1936, the United Association of Journeyman Plumbers and Steamfitters of the United States and Canada (as it was then known), and the National Association of Master Plumbers, formulated and jointly adopted a plan for a joint national plumbing apprenticeship program.

The national plumbing apprenticeship program was approved by the National Association of Master Plumbers at their annual convention on June 25, 1936, and approved by the United Association of Journeyman Plumbers and Steamfitters of the United States and Canada on September 11, 1936. The United States Department of Labor set up the “Federal Committee on Apprenticeship Training” to act as a coordinating agency for the plan. This Committee was given legal authority in the following year as the “Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training” by the National Apprenticeship Act of 1937, commonly known as the “Fitzgerald Act”. All subsequent national and state approved apprenticeship programs are based on this model.

In 1936 the joint national plumbing apprenticeship program was explained as follows:

  1. A standard 5 year apprenticeship, which has been recognized by the plumbing trade since 1883 as the desired period.

  2. Requirement of an “indenture” or agreement, signed by the apprentice and the sponsor parties.

  3. Requirement of specific related school instruction of not less than 720 hours.

  4. Provision of material for apprentice classes through boards of education.

  5. Control of plumbing apprenticeship by committees on which master plumbers and journeyman plumbers are equally represented.

  6. Recognition of the fundamental principle that plumbing work should be done only by properly qualified journeymen plumbers, assisted by indentured apprentices, employed by and under the supervision of master plumbers.

  7. Establishment of a permanent uniform national plan of plumber apprentice training, remaining under the control of the trade.

The Plumbers Local 1 apprenticeship program follows these same principles today. We have updated and added hours to our courses of study over the years, but we have not changed what works. Our apprenticeship program, while modern in application, is firmly rooted in the traditions of our past. Our success speaks for itself. Our graduates are fully qualified journeyman plumbers and gas-fitters, armed with numerous technical skills, and the documented certifications to prove it.

Building Trades Apprentices in the Plumbers & Gas-fitters Local Union No. 1 apprenticeship program learn their craft through a five-year regimen of on-the-job training and attendance at regularly scheduled technical classes, designed to supplement their field training. Apprentices in Plumbers & Gas-fitters Local Union No. 1 are also privileged to be able to attend most classes during the daytime. The curriculum of studies employed by the Plumbers & Gas-fitters Local Union No. 1 apprenticeship program is approved by the New York State Department of Education, and primarily follows the curriculum established at the national level by the U.A. Training Department. The courses of study undertaken by apprentices in our program are primarily in the disciplines of mathematics and science. Subjects such as trade mathematics, technical blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, computer science and CAD, water supply, drainage, fuel gas science, plumbing code interpretation, fuel gas code interpretation, rigging, soldering, brazing and welding all require the comprehension of college level scientific and mathematical concepts, which are presented in a trade relevant form.