Plumbers provide vital services in home, commercial and industrial construction. They install and repair water, waste, gas and drainage systems. Professional plumbers also put in bathroom and kitchen fixtures along with many appliances such as dishwashers and disposals.
Plumbers find employment with construction and plumbing companies. They also operate as independent contractors or operate their own small business. Apprentice plumbers often serve four to five years with pay under a professional plumber before working independently.
Plumbers typically combine apprenticeship with college courses in reading blueprints, mathematics, applied physics and chemistry, safety, and local plumbing codes and regulations. An apprenticeship lasts between two to five years with college requirements of at least a two-year degree for an entry-level position.
In most states, plumbers are required to gain experience and pass a written exam to work independently. Plumbers may have additional requirements if they want to acquire union jobs. A plumber may also be required to pass an additional test to work with gas systems.
Plumbers who work with new construction fit all of the pipes and fixtures for the various systems necessary in industrial, commercial or residential buildings. These systems include water, waste disposal, drainage and gas. They install appliances such dishwashers, garbage disposals and water heaters. Plumbers also install bathtubs, toilets and sinks.
This profession requires a great deal of physical labor and a detail-oriented personality. Plumbers who operate their own businesses or work as independent contractors will need business skills as well as plumbing abilities.
Plumbers may complete any of the following tasks:
Plumbers work in all weather conditions and a wide variety of situations, often crawling under buildings and homes or carrying heavy fixtures and tools. This profession requires physical strength and stamina along with the knowledge for completing the job.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities for plumbers are expected to be very good over the next decade. With a 16% growth rate, employment for this profession is anticipated to grow faster than usual. Skilled plumbers, with the appropriate education, will be in greatest demand as employers express a need for qualified professionals.
According to the Department of Labor, plumbers are among the highest paid in the construction industry at an hourly rate of almost $22 per hour. Many plumbers work beyond 40 hours, allowing for the opportunity of a higher pay rate for overtime. Depending on experience and education, a plumber’s hourly rate can reach up to $38.
The natural gas industry and nonresidential building construction pay some of the highest hourly rates for this profession.