Plumber Career Information

If you are looking for a good paying job that is always in demand, you might be interested in more information about a career as a plumber.


Many times your training as a plumber will come in the form of an apprenticeship that will usually last four to five years. Usually these apprenticeships include about 144 hours of coursework in subjects like drafting, sketching, reading specifications, math, science, safety procedures, building codes, and other regulations that govern the plumbing industry. You'll also gain practical experience, learning the basics like the difference between various types of pipes and using a variety of tools as well as more advanced techniques like installing fixtures and complicated pipe systems.

To apply for an apprenticeship you need to be at least eighteen years old and have a high school diploma. You can find apprenticeships sponsored by regional representatives of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada or by employers affiliated with the National Association of Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors, the Mechanical Contractors Association of America, or the National Fire Sprinkler Association. Although apprenticeships provide comprehensive training, you can still learn how to become a plumber without any formal training by being hired as a plumber's helper where you can learn the ropes of the job. However, many states require plumbers to have specific licensing or certifications, so you will want to do some research to see exactly what qualifications you will need.

Salary/Job Outlook

There are over 350,000 plumbers in the United States most of whom work in cities. Depending on where you work and your level of experience, you can expect to make anywhere between $10 and $35 per hour as a plumber with the median earnings between $20 and $25 an hour. In general, apprentices earn about half as much as experienced plumbers.

The employment outlook for plumbers is good with the number of jobs expected to grow over the next few years. Plumbers also tend to have good job security since the need to maintain existing systems continues even when construction slows down.

Work Schedule/Job Duties

Plumbers install, repair, and maintain cooling, heating, and ventilation systems, as well as pipes for carrying water, sewage, and gas. Depending on who you work for, you might have regular hours from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday. However, you may also have more irregular hours and be expected to work evenings and weekends in order to accommodate your customer's schedules. On any given day, you could work in one location or on several different sites in order to complete various jobs.

As a plumber, you will install plumbing fixtures like sinks, appliances like water heaters, and more complex systems like sewers and pipe systems in houses and other buildings. So you'll have to be able to read blueprints, follow the instructions of builders or contractors, and effectively execute the work to be done. You'll also find computer skills to be useful since technology is being used more often to plan and keep track of jobs. You could be asked to more of the design work, so you will want to learn about different types of materials, plumbing techniques, and building codes. You may also have to fill out cost estimates, work orders, and invoices.

Opportunities for Advancement

Plumbers often start out as apprentices and work their way up to become professional plumbers. From there, you could also become a supervisor or self employed contractor. You might even start your own plumbing company where you employ several other workers. Another option would be to become a plumbing inspector.

Becoming a plumber is a good career choice for people who enjoy a job that requires both a great deal of physical prowess as well as a lot of practical knowledge and experience in a very specialized field.