Plumbers are the tradesmen that install and repair the water, waste disposal, drainage, and gas systems in homes and commercial buildings. They install the appliances that are hooked to these systems, such as bathtubs, sinks, toilets, dishwaters and water heaters.
Because of their knowledge of building codes, plumbers will also get involved in the design function of a building. Architects or planners bring in plumbers in a search for cost cutting measures that meet code requirements.
Plumbers also get involved in the construction aspect of a building when it becomes necessary to cut holes for pipes or to suspend them in some fashion from a surface or beam.
Most people who want to work in the residential and industrial plumbing sector get their training at a vocational school or through an associates degree. There is also a four or five year apprentice program for entry level plumbers that includes 144 hours of classroom work per year. Most states require licenses that requires an examination, along with two to five years experience in the business.
Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters held over half a million jobs in 2006. The great majority of those were plumbers; pipefitters and steamfitters work on large public works jobs or major office buildings.
Job prospects for plumbers are expected to be excellent, as the demand for licensed professionals will exceed the supply, due in part to the stringent educational and apprenticeship requirements. While apprentices are paid at about 50% of a licensed plumber's pay, the job classification overall is among the largest and highest paid in the construction trades.
Lowest 10% $12.27 $26,550
Median Salary $21.20 $44,090
Highest 10% $36.09 $75,070
Source: U.S. Department of Labor