A career in plumbing is often under-appreciated despite its significant contributions to the well-being of society. Ensuring that water flows efficiently in homes and businesses, and waste gets safely discarded, is no small feat. With growing urbanization, advancements in plumbing technology, and the constant need for maintenance and repair, this career path is ripe with opportunity. In this blog post, we’ll guide you on the steps to becoming a plumber, shed light on wages and job growth, and delve into the benefits and drawbacks associated with this profession.
What does a Plumber Do?
A plumber is a professional trained in installing and maintaining systems used for potable (drinking) water, sewage, and drainage in plumbing systems. These systems are essential in residential, commercial, and industrial structures – everything from homes and schools to offices and factories.
A plumber’s work involves a wide array of tasks, including but not limited to:
- Installing and Repairing Plumbing Systems: This could involve working on pipes, fixtures, appliances, and other equipment used to distribute water or dispose of waste.
- Diagnosis and Problem-solving: Plumbers often have to diagnose issues with existing systems and determine the best methods of repair.
- Safety and Regulation Compliance: Plumbers must ensure that all installations and repairs comply with local and national safety codes.
- Blueprint Reading and Drafting: In new installations, plumbers often need to interpret or even draft blueprints and follow them accurately. This ensures that the plumbing system fits well with the rest of the structure.
- Customer Service: Like many tradespeople, plumbers often work directly with their customers, so good communication and service skills are beneficial.
How Long does it take to become a Plumber?
Becoming a plumber typically involves a series of educational and practical steps that can take around 4-5 years. Here is the general timeline:
- High School Education: Most aspiring plumbers start by obtaining a high school diploma or a GED. During high school, it can be beneficial to focus on subjects like math, science, and technical education. This step takes about 4 years.
- Technical Training: After high school, many prospective plumbers enroll in technical plumbing courses at a trade school or a community college. This education can take anywhere from a few months to 2 years, depending on the specific program and whether it’s pursued full-time or part-time.
- Apprenticeship: The most substantial part of becoming a plumber is completing an apprenticeship. This involves hands-on training under the supervision of a licensed plumber, combined with classroom instruction. Apprenticeships typically last 4-5 years.
- Licensing: After completing an apprenticeship, most states require plumbers to pass an exam to become licensed. The preparation and exam process may take a few weeks to a few months.
So, the total time to become a fully licensed plumber typically ranges from 4 to 7 years, depending on your education path and the requirements of your specific state or region. This time investment allows plumbers to gain the extensive knowledge and experience needed to safely and effectively perform their work.
How much do plumbers make Per Hour?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for plumbers was $59,880 or roughly $28.79 per hour. However, wages vary widely, and highly experienced plumbers can earn over $90,000 per year.
Job prospects for plumbers are also promising. With an expected job growth rate of 2% from 2021 to 2031, the demand for plumbers is steady, driven by new building construction and stricter water efficiency standards. Remember, these are only estimates; actual growth might be higher considering the uptick in home renovations and the aging infrastructure in many parts of the U.S.
Benefits of Being a Plumber
- Stability: Plumbing services are essential in all developed societies, providing a consistent demand for skilled workers. Unlike some jobs that are sensitive to economic fluctuations, plumbing services are always in demand.
- Earning Potential: As we’ve mentioned, plumbers have the potential to earn a good income, especially as they gain experience and reputation.
- Variety: Every day brings new challenges and problems to solve, keeping the job fresh and engaging.
- Physical Fitness: Plumbing can be physically demanding, but this also means it can keep you in shape.
Drawbacks of Being a Plumber
- Physical Strain: Plumbing can be physically challenging, often requiring work in cramped, uncomfortable spaces. It also carries a risk of injury from handling heavy materials or dealing with hazardous substances.
- On-Call and Overtime Work: Plumbers may need to be on call for emergencies, potentially leading to irregular hours and disruptions to personal life.
- Career Progression: While there are opportunities for advancement (like starting your own business), the path may not be as structured as in other professions.
Becoming a plumber requires a significant investment of time and effort in training and apprenticeship. However, for those who enjoy hands-on problem solving, a stable career with good earning potential, and contributing to their community, the rewards may far outweigh the challenges. As with any career decision, it’s essential to consider your personal interests, skills, and long-term goals. Despite any drawbacks, plumbing is an honorable profession that plays a critical role in society’s health and comfort.