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Saint Paul College A Community & Technical College

Student Plumber Boosts Career Trajectory

Photo of Mark Andrews with child outside construction siteMark Andrews was doing well in the construction industry, but he often saw others around him progress more rapidly after they received apprenticeship experience. In the Upper Midwest, about one in three plumbers are non-union. Mark further assessed his career path and recognized that he could accomplish higher aspirations by enrolling as an Apprentice Plumber. Mark joined Plumbers Local 34 to complete the union apprenticeship program at Saint Paul College.

Plumbers Local 34 has had a professional partnership with Saint Paul College since 1966, resulting in many skilled union plumbers entering the construction industry with high professionalism and generous pay and benefits to go with that level of excellence. Following the apprenticeship, Journeyman Plumbers receive a union salary of $45.20 per hour, plus incredible benefits that can add 50-75% value.* The apprenticeship program lasts five years, and apprentices are paid from $20.34 their first year to $36.16 their last year per hour when they work 40 hours per week and take classes two nights per week.* With this incredible package, apprentice workers typically graduate debt-free and earn high salaries following this training.

Some of the benefits Mark has appreciated in this program include:

  • Learning hands-on with support from classroom training to meet applicable codes and standards and feeling prepared to face new challenges in real-world situations;
  • Introduces him to working with new materials that he had not worked with before;
  • It provides a strong foundation of skills that reinforces a high level of professionalism and craftsmanship; and
  • You become part of something larger than yourself as a respected member of a profession committed to “protecting the health of the nation!”

Mark Andrews finished 2nd place in the Minnesota State Pipe Trades plumbing competition in Duluth earlier this year and has a bright future ahead, according to Rick Gale, Local 34 Representative, who describes Mark as a blossoming plumber who is always on time, responsible, smart, and willing to help out despite any challenges before him.

*Source: Plumbers Local 34 data as of 2023.

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