Indoor plumbing and clean water are an integral part of the world in which we live. However, most people do not even think about plumbing until they experience an issue with their plumbing systems. Plumbers are professionals whose duty is to ensure that all the parts of a plumbing system are functioning as they should. The tasks involved in the plumbing trade are numerous, covering everything from excavating to install piping and septic systems, to repairing sinks and toilets, and much more.
Training & Experience
Becoming a professional plumbing technician requires many hours of experience and extensive training. Many trade schools and community colleges offer courses for students looking to become plumbers. Most of these courses last from two to four years and feature lessons in math and science, as well as plumbing training. Since plumbing involves many sensitive materials and pieces of equipment, safety training is also a must. Students usually also enter an apprenticeship at a plumbing company. As an apprentice, plumbing students can learn first hand from assisting more experienced plumbers in the field. Although the rules and regulations vary by state, apprentices can usually become journeyman plumbers after working a set number of hours and passing an exam. Becoming a journeyman plumber means that a technician can answer calls without being accompanied by a more experienced plumber. Journeyman plumbers can eventually earn the status of a master plumber. Master plumbers can not only perform all the tasks of a plumber but are also permitted to design plumbing systems for newly constructed buildings, among other exclusive job duties.
Skills & Responsibilities
As stated before, plumbers are called to perform a wide variety of jobs that require training in many different areas. For diagnosing and repairing stoppages, plumbers will need to be familiar with piping systems and drain cleaning. Diagnosing and locating leaks is another common task for plumbers, and requires knowledge of different forms of leak locating methods and equipment. Plumbers also need to have training on gas and electrical systems, since many pieces of equipment use electric or gas power, such as water heaters. If improperly serviced or installed, gas and electric lines can be highly dangerous to both the technician and the clients, so extensive training is a must. Servicing and installing septic and sewer systems requires a plumber to be trained in safe excavation techniques using equipment such as backhoes. All in all, plumbing technicians need a great deal of knowledge and training to handle this diverse range of jobs.
Many plumbers also perform sales to clients. When repairing equipment, technicians will suggest possible solutions to the client. The technician’s goal should be to sell the client the equipment and services that best fit their needs. While it is common for customers to be mainly concerned with pricing, it is essential for plumbers to inform clients of all the available options. Many larger plumbing companies work on a commission basis, meaning that sales directly affect the plumbers’ pay.
Salary and Job Outlook
The U.S. News & World Report states that plumbers made a median salary of $52,590 in 2017. The top 25% of plumbers made $69,170, while the lower half earned $39,470 annually. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for plumbers is projected to grow by 15.6% from 2016 to 2026. The growth in open plumbing jobs can be connected to a variety of factors. One leading cause is the mass retirement of older plumbers with fewer new technicians qualified to take their place. Recent trends have shown more high school graduates are entering colleges instead of technical schools. In short, there is a wealth of job opportunities in the plumbing trade for those who have the proper training.
To sum it up, the plumbing trade is a complex and diverse field. Plumbing technicians are expected to solve a wide variety of issues and perform many different tasks. Professional plumbers need extensive training along with hands-on experience as apprentices in order to gain the necessary knowledge for this career. Alpha Tradesmen Academy offers an online plumbing course led by experienced instructors. This course provides plumbing students with 24/7 access to video lessons, quizzes, exams, and other resources to train plumbers of all experience levels.