Plumbing is a deceptively lucrative career that pays very well to work with appliances and systems that people never really think about but know deep down they need. However, because plumbing is so important in our everyday lives, plumbers must be competent and skilled at their jobs, so plumbing-related disaster strikes less often. In the United States, this level of competence is measured by the Journeyman Plumber Exam, which all potential plumbers must pass to begin their careers.
But what is the Journeyman Plumber Exam? More importantly, how can you pass the Journeyman Plumber Exam? If you have found this article, you have certainly come to the right place.
What is the Journeyman Plumber Test Like?
The Journeyman Plumber’s Exam is designed to test your competence and ability in the field of plumbing and, as such, its contents and questions. A journeyman plumber is the beginner level of plumbing for those with the skill land experience but has not quite mastered the craft. Passing the Journeyman Plumber Exam is necessary to gain a license in most states. This exam will test you on basic and intermediate-level knowledge and skills around the craft.
The Journeyman Plumber Exam will test you on a series of situation-based trade knowledge and skills. The list of subjects you are given to tackle includes:
- Ventilation; the clean circulation of gases and steam,
- Hangings and Supports; elements that help balance the load onto a sturdy pipe,
- Water Supply Systems; how water is supplied through the pipes and other appliances,
- Backflow Prevention; devices that protect water from pollution due to backflow (when the water flows back into its pipes),
- Plumbing Fixtures, including faucets, showers, and toilets—appliances with a stop value for their water supply line,
- Interceptors and Traps; devices that “intercept” or “trap” greases, oils, and other contaminants,
- and General Knowledge and Regulations, for every detail about what and what not to do on the job.
There are just as well supplemental subjects you will be tested on; these subjects are essential to future plumbers in dealing with business and plumbing law. These additional subjects include:
- Bidding; obtain a contract by bidding a more impressive resume,
- Contracting; maximize your time with a client and get paid for your efforts.
- Accounting and Taxes; understand taxes related to plumbing,
- Worker Safety; trace the steps you should take to maintain your safety as a plumber, not only on the job but outside the job as well.
- And Environmental Law; understand the various federal laws related to plumbing, including the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA).
Now that we have outlined the exam’s basic premise, what questions does the exam consist of?
How Many Questions Are on the Test?
The Journeyman Plumber Exam consists of 100 questions. The questions themselves each deal with the subjects, as mentioned earlier. They are a mix of multiple-choice questions and true/false questions. To pass the Journeyman Plumbing Exam, you only need to get 70 out of the 100 questions correct.
A passing score of 70 is not an exceptionally high bar, but it is nothing to scoff at. It is the minimum score for many post-secondary institutions that regularly test and lecture their students. If you are not a person who has a regular time learning and studying plumbing, this may be quite a challenge to overcome.
Examinees will be given up to five hours to complete the exam, but of course, the exact number may vary between states—some states may only give you two hours.
However, this only begs the question: if you cannot reach that score, what will happen? What happens if you fail the exam?
What Happens If I Fail the Exam?
If you have already failed your first exam, do not worry: you can retake it. However, it will take you time to retake it. First, the amount of time it takes may depend on your state, and it will generally require calling the state agency and getting a clear answer. The exam is held only a set number of timers per year at a given location, so you do not have all the time to retake it to be aware. Finally, there are fees to taking the exam, meaning each failure will cost a little more out of your pocket. Thankfully, it is not a significant fee–though the exact price may vary between states.
All this being said, failure is not the end of your career. You can retake the Journeyman Plumber Exam as many times as you need to complete it. However, if you are failing and continue to fail, jumping headfirst into the exam is the wrong way to go about it. No, you must study and understand the subject matter to pass the Journeyman Plumber Exam.
So how do you study for the exam? What will you need to do to pass it and become a certified plumber?
How to Study for the Journeyman Plumbing Exam (and Pass It)?
Do not take the Journeyman Plumbing Exam as some insurmountable test, nor as a completely unfamiliar obstacle. You will take this exam much like you have taken many exams before. The key difference is studying and what you need to study.
Create a Study Schedule
Creating a schedule is the first and arguably most important thing anyone needs to get done before they study. An incredibly underrated aspect of studying is creating the study schedule itself. Many people have difficulty getting the time to sit down and learn all they can.
The most important thing about studying isn’t what you study or for how long, but how consistent you are in doing so. The one way you ensure that you get that information drilled into your skull is to not only do it but do it consistently and repetitively. In your study schedule, you should list and detail the days you can study, the length of time of your study session on those days, and what you plan to study during those study sessions. When you have gotten the schedule down so that it becomes an instinctual routine, you are genuinely ready to learn, study, and pass the exam.
Thankfully, all of the specific details are up to you. But we stress the importance of getting this schedule down pat!
Find Practice Tests
Passing an exam is as much a matter of asking questions as it is about knowing the answers. This is all to say that if you want to pass the Journeyman Plumber Exam, you need to practice and understand the questions, which is why you need to hit the practice tests.
Completing these tests, obviously, does not come at the risk of failing a license, though neither does it allow you to get your license if you complete it. Finally, the actual questions on the practice tests will likely not be on your final exam, so there is no use using the practice tests as a substitute for actually studying and learning.
No, these practice tests aim to get a good idea of what kind of questions will be asked on the exam. Through a practice test or two, you can comprehend how the questions are formatted and what they are asking from you before you take the actual test. For example, one question can be formatted as “Gray water that enters a collection reservoir must be ________.”, where you would have to find the correct term that fits in there.
There are many Journeyman Plumbing practice tests that you can find online. Your local state agencies provide other prep and study resources; however, these typically come with a higher price. Free Journeyman Plumber practice tests are recommended, most of all.
We know; it is a bit much to ask that you get real-world experience to pass an exam that will allow you to do your job in the first place. But most states require that you have some experience in the first place—usually as long as a full year. Experience does not mean you need to have done work that counts as a full-on job, however. Experience falls into various categories, including having taken a training program, taking classes in a trade school or university that have you work with plumbing tools and appliances.
Unlike the state requirements, needing experience for the exam is what you need to put yourself into the position of the questions you are asked. It is one thing to know what the question is asking—it is another to understand and intuitively comprehend the answers. Through hands-on experience, the answers become more apparent to you, and you’ll be able to answer them like you were there yourself.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Pass the Journeyman Plumber Exam?
If you have read this article through, then you have a better idea of how to pass the Journeyman Plumber Exam. Passing the exam is the first step for any plumber. Suppose you are confident in your skills and knowledge of the various systems and dedicate yourself to the study and learning necessary to make up for your deficiencies. In that case, it will be the easiest step. Do not underestimate the exam, but don’t be afraid either—you will be a journeyman plumber in no time!