Needed: W.Va. Plumbers and Pipefitters

Aug 14, 2015

"At the end of the day I can look over my shoulder and actually see what I have done that's going to benefit someone," said pipefitting apprentice Matthew McGinnis. " That means a lot to me."
Credit Glynis Board / WVPublic

Matthew McGinnis was born and raised in Fairmont, he signed up as a soldier and after serving his country for six years he returned to West Virginia.

Then he applied for an apprenticeship with the Morgantown Plumber and Pipefitter's Union, a 5-year apprentice program run by the United Association of plumbers and pipefitters, Local 152.

“I’ve always enjoyed labor and building things with my hands and seeing a physical product at the end of the day,” McGinnis said. He was interested in the trades, and after an interview he got to work.

McGinnis said he enjoys the program and the paid work that comes with it. He immediately began working in areas where he gets to put the knowledge he learns in classes to practical use.

“My main goal  is to learn everything that I can, and become proficient in it, so that I’ll be used for those abilities, and I’ll be an asset.”

He’s is in his second year at the apprentice school which is entirely dedicated to learning how to weld—something he says he’s always been interested in. Throughout the 5-year program there are also classrooms hours, in addition to working in the shop or on the job. He says they study math, and things like how to read blueprints, and more. He says the education is a natural extension of lessons learned throughout middle and high school.

“They tell you math and science are going to be important when you grow up and it really is. There’s a lot of that people don’t realize that’s flowing in the building around them.”

McGinnis also enjoys the camaraderie of working in the apprentice program within the union and all the challenges and learning opportunities he’s presented with in the classroom and out. He says there's a big need for pipefitters throughout the state these days, and there will always be a need for plumbers, so he and his friends should be employed and well-paid.