It may be argued that plumbing kick-started the sanitation of civilization and infrastructure as we know it today. The profession has indeed come a long way from terra cotta pipes, but plumbers still fulfill a crucial occupation. From designing complex pipe plans for new construction projects to unclogging a toilet, the tasks of plumbers of varying expertise keep our wastewater flowing out and clean water flowing in. One of the top-ranking in the industry is the master plumber.
What Does a Plumber Do?
Plumbers repair and install pipes that supply gas and water to, as well as carry waste away from businesses and homes. They also install plumbing fixtures such as sinks, bathtubs, and toilets, and appliances, including washing machines and dishwashers. Experienced plumbers supervise helpers and train apprentices. They work alongside other construction professionals.
Plumber Responsibilities & Duties
Plumbers should be able to take up the following tasks:
- Install plumbing fixtures and pipes
- Inspect and operate test equipment such as pressure and vacuum gauges to conclude the location and cause of trouble
- Clear obstructions from toilets and sink drains
- Troubleshoot issues and decide how to fix them
- Repair plumbing fixtures and pipes
- Estimate costs of repairs and installations
- Present related pricing and recommendations to clients
- Plumbers should be capable of performing these tasks to ensure the efficient functioning of properties’ plumbing systems.
Careers in the U.S:
According to the U.S. BLS, there were 500,300 plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters employed in the United States as of May 2019. Plumbers determine the materials and equipment needed for commercial and residential jobs, read blueprints, repair and install pipes for toilets, sinks, and water heaters, and monitor the functions of instruments or installed meters. They study plumbing methods, industry safety standards, and codes through vocational schools or trade, or through their employers, and then complete apprenticeship programs. The BLS reports that plumbers countrywide make average pay slightly above $1,000 per week(1).
Income and Qualifications
The BLS reports that plumbers, steamfitters, and pipefitters, earned average incomes of $55,160 per year in 2019 or $26.52 per hour. The top 10 percent earned $97,170 or more, while the lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $32,690. Plumbers need to have high school diplomas before beginning apprenticeship programs, usually taking 4 or 5 years to complete. Other essential requirements include physical stamina and math skills, customer service, managerial, and mechanical skills.
The type of plumbing work you take up and whether or not you own your own business can affect your income as a master plumber. According to the DOL (Department of Labor), among the highest-paid in the industry are union members. Besides, a master plumber can also work as a superintendent, foreman, or a project manager, each earning higher than the former. The DOL states that fourteen percent of plumbers are self-employed, and owning a business can be quite rewarding — especially when providing emergency service 24/7. Finally, plumbers working in more dangerous conditions are likely to earn more. The highest-paying industry for plumbers and pipefitters, according to the BLS, is Communications Equipment Manufacturing, and most positions are available in building equipment contracting, Utility System Construction, and Nonresidential Building Construction.
Where you decide to work can also impact your salary. The metro areas with the top average annual wages, reported in 2019 by the BLS, were Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI, at $89,470; Kankakee, IL at $88,790; and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA. at $87,230. The top 3 paying states the same year were Illinois, Alaska, and Minnesota.
Income by Industry
The average hourly incomes for plumbers vary by industry. In 2019, those in the Communications Equipment Manufacturing industry earned the highest average salaries, at $38.66 per hour, according to the BLS. The list is then followed by the Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution industry, with an average of $37.78 per hour. Plumbers who worked in Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing averaged $37.46 per hour, while those employed by Spectator Sports and Scientific Research and Development Services averaged $37.24 and $35.90 per hour, respectively.
How Much Do Plumbers Make
Among the states, plumbers earned the highest incomes in Illinois at $86,120 per year, or about $41.40 per hour, according to the BLS. They also earned comparatively high hourly salaries in Alaska, Minnesota, and New Jersey at averages of $38.28, $35.91, and $35.75 per hour, respectively. Those in Montana earned hourly incomes closer to the industry average at $28.11 per hour. Plumbers in Oklahoma averaged $24.07 per hour.
Careers in Europe:
An entry-level Plumber with less than one year experience can expect to make an average total compensation (includes bonus, tips, and overtime pay) of £8.74. An early career Plumber with 1-5 years of experience makes an average total compensation of £9.01. A mid-career Plumber with 5-10 years of experience makes an average total compensation of £12.42. An experienced Plumber with 10-20 years of experience makes an average total remuneration of £13.78. In their late-career (20-plus years), employees make an average total compensation of £14.
Careers in Asia:
An early career Plumber with 1-5 years of experience earns an average total remuneration (includes bonus, tips, and overtime pay) of ₹190,000. A mid-career Plumber with 5-10 years of experience earns an average total compensation of ₹204,817. An experienced Plumber with 10-20 years of experience makes an average total compensation of ₹250,000.
Jobs for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are expected to increase twenty-six percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the BLS, which is quicker than the fourteen percent projected growth rate for all professions. Stricter water efficiency standards will spur most job opportunities for plumbers in commercial and residential plumbing systems and new building construction. Aspiring plumbers will also replace a considerable number of elderly plumbers who retire from the field, the BLS states.