Plumbers are the unsung heroes of many households and businesses. They work behind the scenes to make sure that things like sinks, toilets, drains, and other plumbing fixtures are in good order. They may be called in when there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed right away, but they also do routine maintenance work to keep things running smoothly over time.
Plumbers spend most of their time on the job doing physical labor. They lift heavy objects, carry tools and materials from place to place, remove old fixtures and fittings, and install new ones. In addition, they may also work on projects that require them to use tools such as drills, wrenches, saws, and other power tools.
Read on to learn more about what it’s like to be a plumber and what it takes to become one yourself.
Plumber Job Duties
Plumbers perform a wide range of duties including the following:
- Installing, repairing, and maintaining plumbing systems such as sinks, boilers, toilets, heating systems, and water filtration systems in residential or commercial properties
- Determining the location of problems and performing physical inspections to locate water leaks and other issues
- Installing and repairing pipes, fixtures, fittings, and appliances such as faucets and toilets
- Inspecting installations for quality assurance purposes to ensure building codes are followed
- Repairing or replacing broken or damaged sewer lines
- Cleaning drains by using water jets or chemical solutions
- Reviewing and estimating plumbing work and costs based on requestor’s needs and job site conditions
Plumber Salary & Outlook
The median annual wage for plumbers is $60,848. Those earning higher wages tend to work in the construction industry, and the highest earners are making more than $95,000 per year.
The number of jobs for plumbers is expected to grow steadily over the next decade as demand for new housing increases. Plumbers will be needed to install and repair pipes that carry drinking water, sewage and natural gas.
Plumber Job Requirements
The requirements for plumbers include:
Education: All plumbers should have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most employers will also prefer some form of vocational training from a trade school. It is possible to complete an apprenticeship program to learn the necessary skills to become a plumber. Many of these programs last multiple years and provide students with hands-on experience.
Training: Plumbers who have been trained through an apprenticeship program can expect on-the-job training from their employer. In this position, they will receive extensive training from a senior plumber on everything from setting up tools to completing repairs. This training can take place either on or off the job site.
Certifications & Licenses: Most states require plumbers to be licensed to practice their trade. Though there is no federal requirement for licensure, most states require plumbers to have a certain level of experience and pass a licensing exam.
Candidates must possess the following skills to perform successfully as a plumber:
Communication skills: This is a service industry position that requires frequent contact with clients and coworkers.
Knowledge of safety procedures: Plumbers must know how to follow safety procedures in order to avoid accidents on the job site. This includes being skilled at handling tools and equipment.
Knowledge of building codes: In most states, plumbers must follow the rules laid out by the local building code when they’re working on homes or businesses. This includes knowing how to properly ventilate any rooms that contain water heaters or furnaces.
Hand-eye coordination: Hand-eye coordination and steady hands are crucial for a plumber when working with pipes, tools, and equipment.
Physical fitness: Plumbers must be reasonably fit and healthy as they may be required to lift tools, climb ladders, and stand on their feet for much of the day. They also need good eyesight (or effective eyeglasses) to work with small parts and to read instructions and blueprints.
Plumbing knowledge: A working knowledge of plumbing theory will help you do your job more safely and efficiently. Basic electrical and construction knowledge is also helpful.
Plumber Work Environment
Plumbers work indoors and outdoors, often in dirty environments. Plumbers are exposed to chemicals, fumes, dust, asbestos, and other hazardous substances. They may get cuts, bruises, and burns from hot water, steam, chemicals, sharp metal edges, or glass shards.
Plumbers work at many different times of the day and night. They must be able to work independently with little supervision if plumbing problems arise during off-hours. Plumbers may have to travel around the community to meet with clients.
Plumber Career Path
Plumbers with good references and workmanship are in high demand and can find jobs easily. To maximize their income, plumbers must keep abreast of new and emerging technologies in the industry and continue to upgrade their skills. Plumbers also need to be able to work independently and to be willing to tackle a variety of problems that they encounter on the job. The work is physically demanding, and the hours are long. Inexperience makes the first two years extremely difficult for new plumbers.
Five Years On The Job
Plumbers begin to develop their own reputations and gain greater recognition among their peers for their work. They also begin to form partnerships with other contractors in order to build larger projects that will bring them more income. Some plumbers choose to become self-employed and start their own companies. The hours are very long, but salaries are much better than in the beginning of one’s career.
Ten Years On The Job
Plumbers with ten years’ experience have established a solid reputation in the field and can earn high wages for their expertise. They have a good deal of independence on the job and enjoy a fair amount of respect from other tradespeople. Those who leave the industry typically move into supervisory or managerial positions within plumbing contracting firms, sales jobs within plumbing supply companies, or management jobs within construction firms that employ plumbers. This group of professionals is highly satisfied with its careers.
Here are three trends influencing how plumbers work. Plumbers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.
Changing Standards for Sewer System Design
Sewer systems have been designed in much the same way for decades, but now that cities are expanding into areas that have previously been considered “off-limits” because of their susceptibility to flooding, a new wave of sewer system design is being implemented to ensure the stability of underground infrastructure.
For example, a growing number of cities are opting to use less rigid pipes and polymers in order to increase the flexibility of their sewer systems so that they can withstand extreme weather conditions like hurricanes and floods.
More Women Join the Plumbing Industry
The number of women in the plumbing industry has been increasing over the past few years, especially in high-growth states like Arizona and Nevada.
In Arizona, for example, women make up 22% of plumbers, while nationally only 5% of plumbers are female. Furthermore, since 2011, there has been a 57% increase in licensed female plumbers nationwide.
Increasing Importance of Social Media Networks
As plumbers continue to grow their businesses, many are turning to social media networks as a tool for networking with other professionals and finding new customers. It is especially important if you are self-employed to have a social media presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Tiktok.
How to Become a Plumber
1. Planning Your Career
When considering a career as a plumber, it is important to think about the size of your desired job. Some plumbers work for large corporations while others run their own small businesses. Consider which type of company would best suit your needs. Also, consider how you want to be compensated for your work. If you are looking for a more steady income with benefits, working for a larger corporation may be better suited to your needs than working independently.
Plumbers must be detail-oriented and possess the ability to work independently. They often handle their own schedule, equipment, and invoicing. Because of this autonomy, plumbers should possess strong time management skills and a sense of responsibility for completing tasks in a timely manner.
2. Writing a Resume
The best resumes for plumbers will reflect their technical ability, as well as their dedication to customer service.
Technical skills are demonstrated by providing a list of the equipment you use and your work history with these tools. List any licenses or certifications that you have. You can also mention any specialized courses that you have taken, such as those on trenchless technologies, pipe repair, etc.
In addition to listing your skills and experience, be sure to highlight how you make a difference for customers. Describe examples of ways in which you were able to help them save money or time or reduce their inconvenience from a problem.
3. Applying for Jobs
If you want to be a plumber, you’ll first need to become licensed. If you don’t already have your state’s plumbing license, contact the office of the State Plumbing Board to find out how to get one. If you’re looking for work, try getting involved in local plumbing organizations.
It can be helpful to get recommendations from friends and family when applying for a plumber job. Also, if you’ve ever worked in the industry, don’t be afraid to send your former employers a letter or email; let them know what you’re looking for and ask if they know of any openings in the area. If there aren’t any jobs listed that look promising, you can always contact plumbing supply stores in your area and inquire about part-time or temp work.
4. Ace the Interview
The primary purpose of a plumber’s interview is to demonstrate his or her competence in identifying and resolving plumbing issues. The interviewer will be looking for a candidate who is articulate, skilled, and personable.
If you are interviewing for a professional plumber position, you may be asked to provide examples of instances in your past when you excelled at your job. Be sure to demonstrate your knowledge of the equipment and tools needed for this type of work. Because plumbers often work in homes directly with clients, the employer will also want to know that the applicant can work productively with all kinds of people.
When preparing for an interview, try doing some research on the company. Make sure you can identify at least one or two ways your experience could improve the business if they were to hire you.
During the interview, make sure you get there early and dress professionally.