Plumbers – A Career That Requires Strong Backs and Strong Shoulders

Local Law 152 Plumbers install, troubleshoot, and repair plumbing systems in various environments. They work in homes, businesses, and factories.


Plumbing problems can occur anytime, and it’s always a good idea to know who to call in an emergency. That way, you can avoid costly repairs and prevent disasters like flooding or backed-up sewer lines.

Plumbing can be a physically demanding career. It requires a strong back and shoulders, as well as the ability to lift heavy tools and equipment. A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for entry into the profession. Plumbers may choose to learn the trade through a vocational or trade school program, or via an apprenticeship with a licensed plumber. Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training and offer a salary, which helps offset the cost of education.

Some plumbers are self-employed and work for themselves, while others work for construction firms or other large businesses. Plumbers can choose to specialize in specific areas of the field, such as water heaters, sewer systems, or gas piping. Plumbers who are experienced and have completed additional certifications may be able to earn higher pay rates.

Because plumbing problems often occur at inconvenient times, plumbers must be available when needed. This can mean working late or on weekends. Plumbers also must be willing to travel to different job sites, depending on the location and nature of the work.

Plumbers should be comfortable using power and hand tools, reading blueprints and rough drawings, and understanding basic mathematics and conversions. They must also be familiar with the materials used in plumbing, including cast iron, copper, CPVC, and PEX pipes. Plumbing is a service industry, so customer service skills are important. Plumbers must also be able to follow building codes and safety regulations.

As a professional plumber, you can expect to make around $44,000 per year. This includes your salary, benefits, and any overtime you may earn. However, the qualifications for becoming a plumber vary by state and region, so be sure to check local requirements.

While many people think of plumbers as workers who fix toilets and sinks, the truth is that they do a lot more than that. These skilled professionals design and install plumbing systems for new constructions, remodels, and renovations. They can also troubleshoot and repair existing plumbing, as well as educate customers on best practices to prevent future issues. Master plumbers oversee the work of apprentice plumbers and are responsible for ensuring that all plumbing work meets local standards and codes. They also take on the responsibility of obtaining permits and inspecting work sites.

Education and Training

Plumbers work with a variety of pipes that carry water, gas and waste. They install and repair plumbing systems in homes, businesses and industrial facilities. They also work with heating and cooling systems, water heaters, sewage systems and related equipment. In some cases, they are required to address emergency situations outside of normal business hours. A career in the trade can be rewarding and lucrative. It requires years of training to develop the technical skills that are necessary for this career.

Those interested in becoming a plumber should start by completing a vocational school program. These programs typically last two to four years and include classroom lessons and hands-on experience. Some students may be able to apply for financial aid programs to offset the cost of their education.

After completing a vocational school program, some students choose to pursue an apprenticeship. These programs last between four and five years and are offered by many different businesses, schools and union chapters. Apprentices are paid a wage while they learn the trade and are supervised by an experienced plumber.

While learning a trade takes time, it is an affordable option for those interested in pursuing a profession that can provide lucrative job opportunities. Many people are also drawn to the social interaction that a career in the trades provides. It is important for prospective plumbers to research what the requirements are for their state in terms of licensure.

The demand for skilled workers is continuing to increase, and there are many opportunities available in the trades. While some people may still hold prejudices against certain types of jobs, this is changing as more and more people become aware of what these professionals do on a daily basis. Whether fixing clogged toilets or replacing a broken pipe, plumbers are essential in maintaining public safety and keeping homes and businesses functioning properly. They are also a crucial part of our country’s infrastructure, and while some individuals will attempt to fix a problem on their own, it is generally recommended that they seek the help of a licensed plumber to avoid costly mistakes and additional problems.


Plumbers work with pipes that supply water, carry waste away, and connect to fixtures such as sinks, showers, and toilets. They also repair or install gas lines for stoves, ovens, and water heaters. Because plumbers work with dangerous materials, they must follow strict safety protocols and work in confined spaces when necessary. They also need to have the stamina for often physically demanding labor.

Most plumbers start their careers with a high school diploma and then complete an apprenticeship, which can last four to five years. During an apprenticeship, they learn the trade by working at a job site under the supervision of a master plumber while earning a wage and receiving classroom training in the evenings or on weekends. Some community colleges and trade schools offer certificate programs that provide the skills and credentials needed to begin a career as a plumber.

After earning a plumbing degree, new plumbers can find employment with construction companies or become self-employed. They can also choose to specialize in a certain type of plumbing work. For example, some plumbers may only install or service garbage disposals, while others may focus on kitchen, bath, or water heater installation and maintenance.

Commercial plumbers work in retail stores, office buildings, restaurants, and other large facilities. They can be involved in the installation and maintenance of complex plumbing systems, including fire sprinklers, as well as sewage and drainage systems.

Residential plumbers work primarily on plumbing systems in homes and other residential buildings. They can be involved in the installation of new plumbing fixtures, such as bathtubs, showers, and sinks, or they can maintain existing plumbing systems by repairing leaks, clogs, and other issues. Residential plumbers often need to have the ability to read blueprints and understand the nuances of working with different types of pipe.

Pipelayers, another type of plumber, perform the initial groundwork before laying down pipes used for sewer, natural gas, or water lines. They can work with a variety of materials, including clay, concrete, and plastic. Some pipelayers are also trained to handle hazardous materials and work under the supervision of licensed plumbers.


As one of the most highly regulated trades in the United States, plumbers are required to obtain a license to work independently. Most plumbers gain their skills through an apprenticeship, which is a combination of classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs last between four and five years, and include 2,000 hours of classroom instruction and hands-on experience. Other options for obtaining plumbing skills and a license include attending a vocational school that offers a program in plumbing technology, or enrolling in a plumbing degree program at a community college.

Once a plumber has obtained their license, they can begin working as a journeyman plumber. They can then apply to become a master plumber by submitting proof that they have worked as a journey plumber for a minimum of two years.

In addition to becoming a licensed plumber, plumbers can seek additional certifications to enhance their career opportunities and earning potential. Plumbers can pursue industry-specific certifications such as backflow prevention device tester, certified gas fitter and master plumber. They can also pursue professional certifications that demonstrate their expertise and commitment to the profession, such as the National Inspection Testing and Certification (NITC) and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (ASSE) certifications.

Plumbers are also often members of a union, which can offer higher salaries and benefits. For example, union plumbers in New York City earn 20% more on average than non-union plumbers. Union plumbers can also access other benefits such as retirement plans, sick leave and vacation time. While joining a union is not necessary to become a plumber, it can be beneficial because it provides increased job security and access to continuing education courses. Additionally, many plumbers choose to earn advanced certifications that can help them stay current with advances in the plumbing field.