Blog Post

Plumbing as a Career Option

By UA Local 486 | May 31, 2023

When it comes to career options, many people often overlook the trades as a viable choice. However, plumbing is one trade that is essential to our daily lives and offers a rewarding career path.

Plumbers are responsible for installing and maintaining the pipes and fixtures that bring water and gas to and from our homes and businesses. From fixing a leaky faucet to installing a new water heater, plumbers play a crucial role in keeping our plumbing systems functioning properly. If you’re looking into plumbing as a possible career choice then you are in the right place. We will discuss the daily life of a plumber, the salary and job market outlook, future advancements beyond journeyman, and how to get started.

Why Choose Plumbing as a Career?

There are several reasons why plumbing can be a great career choice. Here are just a few:

1. Job Security: As long as there are buildings, there will be a need for skilled plumbers. The demand for plumbers is expected to grow in the coming years, making it a secure career option.

2. Good Pay: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $60,090 in May 2022. This salary can vary depending on experience, location, and specialization. For example, here in Maryland, the median annual salary for a plumber, according to, was $73,825 as of May 1, 2023. 

3. Varied Work: Plumbers work on a variety of tasks, from simple repairs to large-scale installations. Each job is unique and requires problem-solving skills, making the work interesting and challenging.

Do you like working with your hands? Do you want something that pays well and is stable? Would you like a job that keeps things interesting? A plumbing career offers all of the above while providing a stable income. While plumbing companies can come and go, there will always be a need for a good plumber.

What the daily life of a plumber may look like

Plumbing can definitely provide a stable career for you and your family. But is it something you would enjoy doing every day? So you can get a better idea of what it would be like to be a plumber, we’ve highlighted what a normal day might look like. 

1. Review Work Orders and Plans: At the beginning of the day, a plumber will review their work orders and plans for the day to ensure they have all the necessary materials and tools.

2. Travel to Job Site: Normally, plumbers will work on several job sites throughout the week and oftentimes throughout the day depending on the jobs. New plumbing installations or larger jobs may require multiple days at the same site. But, normally as a plumber, you will travel from various homes and businesses throughout the day. 

3. Meet with the client and diagnose the issues: Once at the job site you will take a look at the situation and diagnose possible problems that may be causing the issues. You may need to test a few things before identifying the root cause. 

4. Communicate with Clients and Team Members: Plumbers often work with clients and other team members such as contractors or engineers. They will communicate with these individuals to ensure the job is completed to their satisfaction and within the required timeframe.

5. Problem-Solving: Plumbing systems can be complex, and plumbers often encounter unexpected issues that require problem-solving skills. They will need to think creatively to find solutions to these problems while maintaining the safety and integrity of the plumbing system.

6. Document Work: Plumbers may need to document their work throughout the day, including the materials used and the work completed. This documentation is important for record-keeping and billing purposes.

7. Clean Up: At the end of the day, the plumber will clean up the job site and ensure that all materials and tools are stored safely and securely. 

Overall, the daily work life of a plumber is busy and requires a variety of skills, including technical expertise, problem-solving, communication, and organization. Every plumber will have a slightly different experience depending on their specialization and the projects they are working on. It can be a physically demanding job, but also rewarding as plumbers play an important role in ensuring the safety and functionality of homes and businesses.

Salary and Job Outlook

If the day-to-day interests you, then one of the other major deciding factors is the salary and job outlook. We discussed this a little bit up above, but now we will go into greater detail. 

The salary for a plumber varies depending on their level of experience and the region in which they work. Earlier we mentioned that the median annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $60,090. However, the highest 10 percent earned more than $100,000 a year.

The job outlook for plumbers is also positive, with the employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters projected to grow 2 percent from 2021 to 2031. As buildings continue to be constructed and existing infrastructure ages, there will be a continued need for skilled plumbers to install, repair, and maintain plumbing systems.

Steps to Becoming a Plumber

To become a plumber, you typically need to complete an apprenticeship program or attend a technical school. There may be an exception to this if you have enough relevant experience, but in most cases, schooling or an apprenticeship program is required to obtain a license. 

Apprenticeships usually last 4-5 years and include a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Our local Plumbers & Steamfitters Apprenticeship Program is a 5-year program that pays you throughout your time as an apprentice. 

During an apprenticeship, plumbers learn everything they need for the job including how to read blueprints, install and repair pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and comply with building codes and regulations. They also receive training on safety procedures, customer service, and business management.

After completing their apprenticeship, plumbers can become licensed by their state or local government. Requirements for licensure vary by state but typically involve passing an exam and fulfilling a certain number of hours of experience.

Specialization and Career Advancement

Once someone becomes a licensed plumber, there are additional things they can do to further advance their career or earn a higher income. 

Plumbers can specialize in a particular area of plumbing, such as commercial plumbing, residential plumbing, or industrial plumbing. Specializing can lead to more opportunities and higher pay.

Plumbers can also advance their careers by becoming a master plumber. A journeyman plumber can work independently, but must still be supervised by a master plumber. Once a plumber becomes a master plumber, they can work on their own and even hire and supervise other plumbers.

Starting your own plumbing business is also an option for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Owning a business requires additional skills beyond plumbing, such as marketing, accounting, and management, but can be a rewarding career path.

Transitioning From Another Career to Plumbing

It’s not uncommon for someone to switch to plumbing after they’ve already started their career journey. People transition from other careers for a number of reasons. No matter if you’re transitioning from a desk job, a different trade job or just looking for someplace you can work long-term, plumbing is a great career choice to transition into. 

Plumbing is relatively easy to transition into if you are willing to put in the work. Once you have the proper training and licensing (as mentioned above) it’s just a matter of finding the right place to work. 

The biggest fears of transitioning to a new career are wondering if you have what it takes to succeed and also wondering how you will take care of your family financially as you get the necessary training. 

That’s where the benefit of apprenticeship programs comes into play. Working through an apprenticeship program will provide you with everything you need to perform well in your new career and will pay you while you learn the necessary skills. With an apprenticeship program, you will get first-hand experience working real jobs while being paid to do so. It’s hard work, but it’s one of the best ways to transition into plumbing as a new career. 

Are you thinking about plumbing as a career? The best thing you can do to learn more is to speak with actual plumbing professionals. If you’re ready to take the first step into becoming a plumber, then find a local apprenticeship program near you and get started!