Between the high demand, good starting pay, and long-term growth potential, the trades offer some really good career options for young adults. You may be surprised to learn the plumbing trade offers good pay and great perks, as well as the chance to work with your hands and do work that is truly important. There’s way more to the plumbing profession than clogged pipes and plumber’s crack. If you look beyond the stereotypes, you’ll see that plumbing is a worthwhile and rewarding career. And the best part? It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get started.
Surprising Facts About Plumbers
First, let’s bust some myths about plumbers, the plumbing profession, and the trades in general. Here are several facts that may surprise you:
- Master Plumbers can make up to $100,000 a year or more.
- Most of the plumbing trade is new construction.
- 85% of all plumbers never see raw sewage.
- Pipefitting and fire sprinkler fitting are offshoots of plumbing.
- In addition to water and waste pipes, plumbers also run airlines, gas lines, and vacuum lines.
- It’s not all about physical labor and working with your hands. Communication and customer service are a big part of the job, too.
- Young people who go into the trades don’t struggle to find jobs; they’re in high demand.
- Plumbers play an important role in protecting public health and safety—just like doctors!
- Unlike doctors, plumbers invest a modest amount of time and money on their education and training, and their investment pays off quickly.
Interview with a Plumber
Since beginning his career 30 years ago, Dave Munie, Master Plumber and educator at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, has found all of the above to be true—and more. According to him, plumbing is one of the best careers around. We asked him to answer a few questions about how he got his start and why he loves his job so much.
TLPC: How did you get started in plumbing?
DM: When I was a young man, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. My parents said, “How about plumbing?” My reply was, “Ahh I guess.” What I did know was I didn’t want to work in an office. I didn’t want to work in a factory. I wanted to work with my hands and build things. Solve problems. Crank wrenches! So, I went to Ranken 30 years ago and took their 9-month program in plumbing technology.
When I graduated, I started my plumbing career serving a 5-year plumbing apprenticeship. I was building houses and doing apartment complexes and hotels, fast food restaurants and supermarkets, dormitories and aircraft hangars. All of these buildings have hot and cold water systems and need a waste and vent system. And they have a lot of sinks, faucets, showers, floor drains, toilets, and water heaters. I was running water and waste pipes as well as airlines, gas lines, and vacuum lines. Wow! I didn’t realize plumbers did all that! And more for sure. Now that I am a Master Plumber, I have multiple licenses for various plumbing-related things and couldn’t be happier.
TLPC: What’s the best part about being a plumber?
DM: Plumbers are individually licensed and properly trained so they can master their craft. They can go anywhere in the country and their jobs will never be shipped overseas. As a Master Plumber, I can open my own business and be my own boss. Plumbers are in super high demand, so the pay is great—starting around $15-18 per hour and going to $35-40 within 5 years. Plus health insurance, retirement, vacation pay, bonuses, overtime pay…the list goes on.
TLPC: What’s involved in a plumbing technology education program?
DM: At Ranken Technical College, we start with the basic joining of pipes by soldering, brazing, threading, grooving, gluing, etc. Then we do underground plumbing. We have a three-story structure that has room for 43 bathrooms right in the shop! It has hot and cold water lines and drains lines throughout. We hook these fixtures up and turn them on! We also build two new homes a block away from campus. Carpenters frame the homes, and plumbers install the pipes at various stages. In the end, we sell the homes to beautify the neighborhood. So our students get real-world experience with every class!
TLPC: How much does the program cost?
DM: The plumbing technology program at Ranken costs $15,000 and takes 9 months to complete. Financial aid and student loans are available, and the curriculum is approved by the Department of Labor.
TLPC: Anything else you’d like to tell young people seeking good career options?
DM: Most people think of plumbers as being men. But there are plenty of young women entering the plumbing business today and doing very well. A female student from our recent graduating class had six job interviews! I attribute that not only to the demand in the field but also the importance of her communication skills. At Ranken, we emphasize the necessity of “soft skills” in addition to the technical ones, which is another misconception of the field.
Here at Tony LaMartina Plumbing Company, we agree. We absolutely value communication and customer service skills in our plumbers. As an award-winning 5-star service company, we are looking to hire plumbers who can help uphold our reputation and provide our customers with the excellent service experience they’ve come to expect from us.
Looking for good career options? Learn more about job opportunities for plumbers. Ready to get started? Check out our post, How to Become a Plumber, or contact us! Call (314) 501-9950 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written in partnership with Ranken Technical College.