The Path to Becoming a Plumber

08/09/2019 | Spotlight

The Path to Becoming a Plumber

Plumbing Apprentice student Keith Ashby was this year’s man to beat at the SkillsUSA plumbing competition in Louisville, Kentucky from June 24-28. Ashby took home gold for the second year in a row, and scored 996 out of 1,000 possible points during the competition. The grueling two-day competition requires students to complete a plumbing project that is only revealed once the competition begins.

After winning gold twice, it is clear that Ashby has a talent for plumbing, but growing up he had no idea what he wanted to do. He took aptitude tests to try and discover what career to pursue, but ultimately ended up in the plumbing industry by chance. Ashby said he fell into the field over a decade ago because his neighbor owned a plumbing business.

“I did a year of plumbing about 13 years ago. I was just a gofer, but at least I was working around other plumbers. The plumber I was with was really meticulous, so I learned that from the beginning,” said Ashby.

After the declining economy affected the plumbing industry, Ashby found himself working in a plumbing supply warehouse for seven years. Working in the warehouse allowed Ashby to expand his knowledge of the field, but he found himself searching for more.

“Going into a plumbing program, I just wanted better career opportunities,” he said.

Throughout Davis Tech’s four-year Plumbing Apprentice program students go to class in the evenings and work during the day. Ashby had no interest in a traditional degree, so this type of education system appealed to him.

“The whole four years, you’re paid through the whole apprenticeship. So when I switched from the supply warehouse to actually plumbing, I didn’t take much of a pay cut,” said Ashby.

Ashby has one year left in the program, and gold medals or not, he plans to continue maintaining his high working standards.

“I’ve been taught, if you’re going to do something, do it right,” he said. “So that’s what I strive for.”