|Number of Jobs:||107,600|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Construction Jobs||#3|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#73|
All it takes is one lousy morning with no running water (or a clogged sink or phantom-flushing toilet) to remind us how dependent we are on the expertise of plumbers. But troubleshooting is just a sliver of their responsibilities. The men and women working in this profession are trained to develop blueprints to plan where pipes and fixtures should be plotted in a structure. They also install and connect the piping and fixtures, either working individually or with a team of apprentices and pipefitters. In addition to facilitating water supply from pipes and large fixtures (such as bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets), plumbers also ensure that water reaches appliances, like dishwashers and water heaters. The best in the occupation know how to juggle problem-solving with the physical and mechanical demands of the job. They’ve also mastered customer service.
General employment within the construction sector took a nosedive during the recent recession, but hiring should pick up for plumbers. New buildings and residences are being built to comply with stricter water efficiency standards, and companies housed in older structures are hoping to retrofit to use more energy-efficient systems. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there should be a hiring spurt of 25.6 percent for plumbers from now to 2020. This translates to more than 100,000 new jobs.
The average pay for a plumber in 2011 was $47,750, the BLS reports. The best-paid are pulling in around $82,310, while those in the bottom 10 percent earn just shy of $30,000 a year. Cities on the East Coast pay particularly well; specifically, metropolitan areas like Vineland, N.J., Nassau, N.Y., and Peabody, Mass. However, apprentices just starting out could make 30 to 50 percent less than a fully trained plumber.
Becoming a plumber is a two-pronged process that includes practical training and study. Traditionally, a hopeful would begin a four- or five-year apprenticeship program to receive both the technical education and complete the required hours of on-the-job training under a licensed professional. Plumbers who have successfully completed their apprenticeship are known as journeymen (or women).
Strong math and reading skills are just as important as having the technical chops, says Patrick Kellett, the director of business development for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. “And this might seem a little bit out of left field, but a positive attitude is also really important for a candidate’s success,” he adds, “because this can be a kind of tough business, and a dangerous business. Blue-collar work isn’t always the most popular line of work.”
|Upward Mobility||Below Average|
|Stress Level||Above Average|