If you’re debating the merits of a career in plumbing vs electrical, it may seem like a difficult decision. Both of these jobs can be promising career paths that can put your handy skills to good use, but they are also very different, and these differences must be taken into account. Deciding whether you want to be an electrician or plumber thus requires extensive research as well as some personal reflection. You must assess your skills and interests to determine which career path would be the better fit.
Some of the other factors you must consider include the salaries for each profession, how easy it is to jumpstart a career in each field, and what the job prospects look like for plumbing vs electrical. This guide will help you learn more about each of these considerations so that you can make an informed decision about your career path and become a successful electrician or plumber.
What’s Harder Plumbing or Electrical?
Comparing and contrasting a career as a plumber vs electrician will reveal that neither is inherently more difficult than the other. Both are challenging in their own way and both can be physically strenuous, but one is not necessarily harder than the other. Still, it’s worth comparing the two professions and understanding how difficult each aspect of the job is.
As is the case with any two jobs, different parts of plumbing may be more difficult than certain parts of electrical work. When it comes down to it, though, the difficulty level of plumbing vs electrical is roughly the same. Learn more about the most difficult part of each job to see which career path is right for you.
Working as an electrician can be a physically difficult job. While it’s less strenuous than some other contractor-type work, it can still take a toll on your back and shoulders as well as your knees. This is because you will frequently be kneeling or contorting your body into strange positions in order to reach wiring and complete your work. After time, this can put a strain on your body.
This is also true of the work you may do as a plumber, though. Plumbers are similarly expected to bend, kneel, and reach in ways that can easily result in a sprain or a strain to the muscles. Some sources say that it’s harder to be a plumber vs electrician because plumbers are frequently tasked with carrying heavy fixtures. This may be true, indicating that plumbing may be slightly more physically demanding than electrical work.
In addition to physical difficulty, you should consider how technically difficult each of these jobs is. When it comes to plumbing vs electrical, both can be quite challenging technically — but as is the case with the physical difficulty of each job, neither is necessarily harder than the other.
Plumbing requires a great degree of manual dexterity in order to physically manipulate small pieces and ensure that plumbing systems are running smoothly. This may be technically difficult for somebody who isn’t good with their hands, or for somebody who struggles with fine motor skills.
Similarly, electrical work requires highly refined motor skills due to the technical difficulty of handling wires, capping connections, and repairing small electrical parts. The difficulty of these tasks is generally comparable to the difficulty of a plumber’s tasks, though, proving that neither is easier or more difficult than the other.
Complexity of Skill Set
You might also consider the complexity of the skill set that’s required to work as a plumber vs electrician. Is the skill set of an electrician or plumber more difficult to master? Both plumbing and electrical work demand a basic understanding of mathematical concepts in order to take measurements and calculate flow and wattage. The skill set required for each of these jobs is generally comparable, though, with neither being obviously more difficult than the other.
Risk of the Job
One area in which plumbing vs electrical differ greatly is the risk associated with each job. Indeed, data indicates a difference in the number of injuries in plumbing vs electrical. According to the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration, there were 331 injuries and deaths recorded for plumbers, dating back to 2005. Common causes of injuries for plumbers include flying particles, slips and falls, and exposure to environmental hazards.
Electricians face a much higher incidence of death and injury. According to research, as many as 1,000 electricians die every year on the job — and this figure doesn’t even account for injuries. This is simply due to the fact that electricity is a much more hazardous medium to deal with than water. Electrocution is an ever-present threat in the electrical field, and professionals in this line of work must be careful to always wear the correct personal protective equipment in order to minimize the risk.
What it Takes to Get Started
Another aspect of these jobs’ difficulty is the steps required to get started on each career path. When it comes down to plumbing vs electrical, does one require more training? Is the training to become an electrician or plumber more expensive? These are important questions to answer before you choose which career path to head down.
The requirements for becoming a plumber vary based on where you are located, what kind of work you want to do, and whether you plan to work for somebody else or pursue self-employment. If you want to work for a company, they will either offer a training program that you must complete as a condition of employment, or they will expect that you’ve completed a training program already. According to a quick online search, if you opt to seek out a training program before seeking employment, you could pay anywhere from $800 for online training programs to $40,000 for a formal, in-person plumbing school education.
Aspiring electricians will find themselves in a similar position. If you want to seek employment as an electrician at a company, they will train you or expect you to have completed training already. In most cases, an employer will expect you to have a certain level of experience, so they will likely expect you to have training. Programs for electricians start at $1,000 according to the web and go as high as $11,000.
Can You Be a Plumber and Electrician?
You might be wondering whether you can be both a plumber and an electrician. If you can’t choose between plumber vs electrician, it may seem appealing to simply do both. Through this would likely entail more training, it is indeed possible to pursue both of these paths at the same time. You simply need to find a career that allows you to combine these interests.
Anybody who is struggling to decide between plumbing vs electrical can combine these passions by working as a general contractor. A general contractor is tasked with completing handyman tasks such as installations, repairs, and replacements, so a knowledge of both plumbing and electrical work may be a great asset to anybody in this career.
General contractors earn about $37,520 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and job growth is projected to be about 7% — which is on par with the national average. This makes general contracting an attractive career choice for anybody who wants to pursue both electrical work and plumbing.
If you’re interested in pursuing a leadership position that allows you to apply plumbing and electrical skills, working as a construction manager may be the best bet. This position typically requires a greater level of experience than other jobs, so it’s best for somebody with a few years of experience in a role as an electrician or plumber or both.
Construction managers earn about $98,890 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is a lucrative figure compared to the average earnings of an electrician or plumber, but it reflects the greater level of experience that a construction manager brings to a job. A construction site may also be a riskier workplace, so this higher salary may be compensation for a greater degree of risk.
If you possess expertise in both the plumbing and electrical fields, there’s no need to choose between plumbing vs electrical. You can put both of these skills to use by pursuing a job as a utility inspector. Much like a construction manager, a utility manager position typically requires a little bit more experience than an entry-level electrician or plumber job. Utility inspectors are responsible for assessing the functionality and safety of utility fixtures, including plumbing and electrical fittings, so it’s vital that anybody in this role be well-versed in both.
Have you ever dreamed of building your own home or building homes for others? If so, taking on a role as a homebuilder might be a great way to do so while also using your plumbing and electrical skills. If you wish to pursue this path, you should complement your plumbing and electrical abilities with some construction know-how, too. With each of these skill sets, you’ll be equipped to build houses under your own construction company, or you can seek a job at another construction company.
Plumbing vs Electrician Salary
Salary, of course, is one of the biggest considerations to think of when you’re choosing between a career as a plumber vs electrician. If you’re trying to figure out which option may be more lucrative, money is important, but so are the overall job prospects and the cost to start the career. All of these factors, combined, can determine how lucrative a career path will be.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, plumbers earn about $59,880 as a median annual salary. This figure is slightly above the average annual salary in the U.S. of $56,310. Plumbers who get paid by an hourly wage can expect to make about $28.79 per hour.
Salaries for an electrician are slightly higher. The median annual pay for an electrician is reported to be $60,040, with an hourly wage of $28.87. This difference is about $3,730 per year, or $310 per month. If your primary concern is financial when choosing between plumbing vs electrical, the numbers favor a career as an electrician.
How do job prospects for plumbing vs electrical jobs measure up? According to BLS, there were 729,600 new jobs for electricians in 2020, leading to a job outlook of 9%, which is about average. For plumbers, however, there were only 469,900 job openings, which led to a job outlook of only 5%, which is slower than average. This indicates that electricians may have an easier time finding employment.
Is it Better to Be a Plumber or an Electrician?
There are plenty of different factors you must consider when you’re choosing between a career as an electrician or plumber. Deciding on a job path is never an easy decision, but it’s even harder when you’re faced with two opportunities that are similar in so many ways. The question thus remains — is it better to become a plumber or an electrician?
Electricians enjoy better job prospects and a higher salary, but they also face greater danger on the job in the form of injuries and electrocution. The answer, then, depends on what your unique priorities may be. Are you mostly concerned with earning the highest amount of money possible? If so, a career as an electrician is likely the better option for you. Are you more interested in pursuing a career that’s safer? If this sounds more in line with your goals, then working as a plumber may be a better fit.
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Working as an electrician or plumber isn’t obviously better than the other, then. Both are great career opportunities if you’re looking for a way to develop hands-on skills and find rewarding work. You should choose the option that sounds like it is the best fit for your goals and interests — and if you can’t choose, consider a career that combines both, such as a utility inspector or construction manager.