The Plumbing program is one of three programs offered by the Washington, D.C. Joint Plumbing Apprenticeship Committee (UA Local 5 JATC). It is a longstanding five-year apprenticeship process that consists of approximately 1200 hours of classroom instruction in addition to full-time on-the-job training.
Plumbers install and repair water, drainage, waste & vent, as well as gas pipes in homes, businesses, and factories. They install and repair large water lines, such as those which supply water to buildings, and smaller ones, including lines that supply water to refrigerators. Plumbers also install plumbing fixtures—bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets—and appliances such as dishwashers, garbage disposals, and water heaters. In addition, they fix plumbing problems. For example, when a pipe is clogged or leaking, plumbers remove the clog or replace the pipe. Some plumbers maintain septic systems—the large, underground holding tanks that collect waste from houses not connected to a city or county’s sewer system.
The Washington, D.C. Joint Plumbing Apprenticeship Committee (UA Local 5 JATC) offers a comprehensive BIM/VDC (Building Information Modeling/Virtual Design and Construction) program for nearly 300 hours over three years. Students start with the basics of Autodesk design programs, PDF management software, modeling pipe and equipment, and work towards advanced understanding of all software and hardware tied to project design and coordination. Apprentices who opt to specialize in BIM/VDC complete the same classroom coursework as all apprentice plumbers but attend an extra evening for the elective during the second, third, fourth, and fifth years of the program.
BIM/VDC capable coordinators and designers are always in demand by our contractors. Apprentices and journeyworkers who choose this elective obtain a deep understanding of how our systems and ALL trades fit and function together within a given project.
Plumbers know, but much of the public is unaware, that welding is a critical component of plumbing and gasfitting. Larger domestic water lines are run in stainless steel when the price of copper becomes cost prohibitive. While smaller commercial fuel gas piping is run in threaded steel pipe, larger sizes require welded steel pipe. The UA Local 5 JATC offers multiple welding certifications for joining pipe and is always increasing the offered certifications.
Our industry is always changing and the push for ecological plumbing improvements in technology is going to continue not just as a trend, but as a critical part of infrastructure and water conservation measures. Potable water is becoming more scarce and more expensive. Conserving and using rainwater through Rainwater Harvesting Systems and using the maximally efficient water heating and storage methods are critical to keeping our environment and ourselves healthy and sustainable. We currently offer a two trimester Green Technologies class which will grow and adapt with the technology and local market.