If you’ve ever wondered, “Should I become a plumber?”, you should know that there are many benefits to working in this skilled trade, such as affordable education and training, above-average earning potential and long-term job security.
As the cost of a college education continues to rise, more young people have begun to wonder if going into a skilled trade is the solution. Plumbing is consistently ranked as one of the best-paying and most popular trades.
Reasons Why You Should Become a Plumber
Although this is not an exhaustive list of all the benefits of becoming a plumber, it does identify some of the most common reasons that professional plumbers value their careers.
1. Lower Cost Education
Training to be a plumber is significantly cheaper than the cost of a college degree. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the average cost of a four-year college education is $140,000. Conversely, you could complete an entire professional plumber course at a trade school for about $30,000. The cost is even lower if your local community college offers the courses.
2. Income Maintenance
Keeping a full-time schedule in a four-year college makes working a 40-hour-per-week job nearly impossible. You can maintain your income while training to be a plumber.
Most trade schools seek to help students gain skills in a way that fits into their schedules. A full schedule of evening and weekend classes are common for many trade schools. With hard work and dedication, you can complete your plumber training without ever losing the income of your current job.
3. Potential Apprenticeships
Apprenticeships allow you to earn while you learn. Check with your local plumber’s union to find out if there are plumber’s apprenticeships available in your area.
Not only will these programs give you on-the-job training, but you’ll also be paid well while you do it. Some apprenticeships are partnered with local colleges or trade schools and you’ll earn credits while you participate as well.
4. Job Security
You’ll have rock-solid job security. Job growth has slowed somewhat in the plumbing field, but plumbers aren’t likely to find themselves out of a job anytime in the near future.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is still predicting a 5% job growth in this occupation over the next decade. This means that there are expected to be more than 50,000 job openings for plumbers in the next few years.
5. High Earning Potential
Plumbers have an income that is consistently higher than average. Although plumbing is hard work, it pays very well, exceeding the overall average pay in the United States by at least $10,000.
The average income for a plumber is about $60,000, with the lowest earners still making nearly $40,000 and the highest earners nearing an income of $100,000. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) This is an important consideration for many people when they wonder, “Should I become a plumber?”
6. Career Growth
Plumbers have a defined path. Like many skilled trades, plumbers earn higher title designations that are commensurate with higher pay as they gain experience.
You will begin as an apprentice, advance to the journeyman level and then have the opportunity to become a master plumber. This tiered system based on experience and hard work puts your income and advancement solely in your own hands.
Many experienced plumbers at the journeyman or master level choose to become independent business owners. They employ other plumbers and offer their services to a wider clientele. This path can allow a professional plumber to remain in the industry while increasing income and reducing the physical stressors of being in the field.
Recommended: Plumbing License Requirements By State
Disadvantages of Being a Plumber
For all the advantages of a plumbing career, there are some negative aspects to the job that you’ll need to consider.
The Physical Toll
Working as a plumber is a physically demanding job. While a percentage of plumbing calls require simple fixes, others may require a great deal of physical exertion.
Plumbers routinely carry heavy fixtures such as bathroom tubs or large bundles of pipe. They may engage in projects that will require them to spend long hours on their knees or confined to small spaces.
There is a high risk of injury in the plumbing profession. Physical exertion can lead to muscle, joint and tendon injuries, and repetitive stress injuries are common. Additionally, as they often work in wet environments, the risk of slip and fall injuries is high.
An Irregular Schedule
The high demand for skilled plumbers is one of the main reasons you should become a plumber. High demand creates job security. However, this is also one of the detriments of the job.
Customers can experience plumbing emergencies at any time, including weekends, holidays and in the middle of the night. Plumbers will be called on to attend to these situations immediately and on very short notice.
If you work for a large plumbing company, you will likely be put on a rotating on-call schedule. This way no single plumber is called up for every emergency. But if you are an independent plumber or work for a small company, you may not get that relief.
The stress and inconvenience of this aspect of the job can be a deal-breaker for some. Those with children or other consistent responsibilities outside of the workplace may find the disadvantages of being a plumber especially difficult. Although job security is not as high, specializing in construction plumbing rather than service plumbing can offer a more consistent schedule.
Should I Become a Plumber? Is Getting Into Plumbing Worth It?
Becoming a professional plumber isn’t easy. If you choose a trade school or college for your training, it will require a commitment of both time and money. Working your way into the trade through an apprenticeship can take several years, although you will be earning an income at the same time.
Once you are a working plumber, you will be exposed to unpleasant and sometimes dangerous environments. You will also be subject to an unpredictable schedule.
All jobs have drawbacks and advantages; look for one where the pros outweigh the cons for you. If the disadvantages of becoming a plumber seem like acceptable tradeoffs for a lucrative and secure career, then the answer to the question, “Is plumbing worth it?”, is a definite yes.