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Butler Partners with Local Plumbers & Pipefitters Union

The first two students graduate from Butler and the Plumbers & Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training of Kansas simultaneously.
Published: Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Students receive their associate degree and journeyman card for the first time during the partnership.

El Dorado, Kansas – Plumbers & Pipefitters Apprenticeship Training of Kansas (PPATKS) UA Local 441 is partnered with Butler Community College to give students an opportunity to receive a college degree while working toward graduating from the apprenticeship with a Journeyman’s card.

Students in Plumbers & Pipefitters go through a five-year program which is equivalent to 8,500 hours of total classroom training in pipefitting, plumbing or heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). During this time, students work on a six-week rotation, studying at the apprenticeship for one week and working across the state for the remaining five weeks.

The relationship with Butler allows the students in Plumbers & Pipefitters to earn an associate degree by completing an additional 15 credit hours of coursework.

PPATKS is partnered with 60 signatory contractors around the state, allowing students access to hands-on training.

These partnerships bring students in contact with the “best-trained and highest skilled craftspeople out there,” said John Clark, PPATKS training director. Clark added that their trainees are a viable asset to contractors across the state because it helps them hire quality trained apprentices.

The program has already sent the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas 25-30 apprentices to help with the construction of the biosafety level-4 laboratory.

Those interested in the union apprenticeship can apply once a year in March. The PPATKS reviews all applicants to see if they fit the program. Once accepted, the apprentices start class and the apprenticeship pairs them with a contractor to work with during their training.

Books and tuition cost students only $600 per year for their training, excluding the 15 college credit hours from Butler.

Butler is the only college that partners with PPATKS and offers a tailored package of courses including entrepreneurship and other business classes. After a student completes the 15 credit hours, they receive their Corporate Studies, Plumber and Pipefitter associate of applied science degree once finished with the union program.

Graduates of the apprenticeship are equipped to jump straight into the industry, earning $85,000 to $100,000 per year.

On Saturday, August 24 Plumbers & Pipefitters had their graduation at the Kansas Star Casino. Approximately 45-65 apprentices graduate each year now with the option to earn their college degree. For Butler’s first year of graduates with the partnership, two students completed 15 credit hours and received their associate degree. More are expected next year.

BETA, a division of Butler Community College, serves the region with industry-educated students by acting as the “liaison between the college and the industry,” said Michelle Ruder, director of BETA.

For more information regarding the Plumbers & Pipefitters Apprenticeship, email Michelle Ruder at or call 316.218.6124.

The following Butler students received their Journeyman’s card with Plumber & Pipefitters PPATKS UA Local 441 on August 24:

  • James Penry (Topeka, Kan.)
  • Blake Anderson (Perry, Kan.)