A phrase I heard many times while serving in the United States military was, “You’re trained to be better than your civilian counterpart.”  Is this true? Does the military offer a better training program than the civilian world?  I can only lend my opinion for the plumbing apprenticeship program, but yes.

The United States military likes to say they are sending the finest America has to offer into battle.  This is another saying I heard many times but only realized the truth after I separated. Most military training programs are modeled after successful civilian programs.  Every few years, the military searches for the best civilian training programs. Then, they improve it, suit it to their needs, and begin training our troops. Military plumbers are being trained under circumstances where profit is not the sole purpose of training.  They are being trained for the knowledge, while civilian plumbers are being trained by a company that may not have the time or patience to train on less profitable areas. I was trained to repair plumbing products until they could not be repaired. Only then was it acceptable to replace it.  To do this, you had to have a deep understanding of how that product works; its every moving part and function.  Military trainers took the time to explain how every product works.  In the civilian program, you’re trained for profit; plumbers are trained to replace the product with no real understanding of how to fix it. In the end it makes the company more money so why repair it? The armed services trains for all aspects of plumbing including residential, commercial, new construction, remodel, repair, fire suppression, backflow testing, waste water treatment, and water distribution. In a civilian training program, you will receive what that company specializes in or offers to its customers. The civilian plumber may be better trained at this particular part of plumbing but has not received the same diverse knowledge of the military plumber.

After going through the military training program and watching the civilian program in action, I can say there is no comparison. Some of the best, most knowledgeable plumbers I have ever met were during my time in the armed services.  If I had a son or daughter interested in the trades at the end of high school, I would recommend enlisting in the United States military to receive the best training our country has to offer.