How to Get a Job as a Plumber
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.”
What is the Job Like?
Work environment varies. Plumbers employed by daytime businesses, for example, would work daytime hours, whereas those employed on construction sites could face overtime to complete a project. The BLS reports that about 14 percent of the 419,900 plumbers working in 2010 were self-employed, and so were at liberty to determine their own schedules. Nearly all plumbers work late nights and weekends in an on-call capacity should an emergency arise.
Physical fitness is important for plumbers who’d like some longevity. Minor on-the-job injuries do occur—normally slips and falls, according to Kellett—but failing to keep in shape could lead to unnecessary harm. And one of the benefits of affiliation with a union is that it keeps its members prepared to work as safely as possible in what can be dangerous situations.
As Kellett says: “Blue-collar work comes with a reputation or idea of union thugs, or that we’re an uneducated workforce, but that’s not the truth.” He emphasizes the significant rewards of working in plumbing and belonging to the union. “We’re extremely proud that we educate our [union] members,” he says. “There’s no out-of-pocket cost to the individual to get apprenticeship training. And there’s a good health plan as part of the pay package, as well as a good pension upon retiring.”