Plumbing and welding are both excellent trades to go into, so when it’s time to choose a career path, both fields are great options. You may want to know about plumbing vs welding before you make a decision on which career path to pursue. Both plumbing and welding are great careers, and although neither one is necessarily better than the other, they each have subtle differences that make them more suitable careers for certain people. If you want to know if you would have a more rewarding career as a welder vs plumber, this article can help you make the best choice.
Is Plumbing or Welding a Better Trade To Go Into?
Plumbing and welding can both be better trades for certain people, but neither field is better than the other overall. Plumbers have higher salaries, but welders have a better work/life balance. Plumbing is safer than welding, but welders often have better working environments. Each career option has advantages and disadvantages, so you must decide which benefits are most important to you.
Is Plumbing or Welding Easier?
Plumbing and welding are both difficult jobs. You must have a lot of technical knowledge to fit pipes together properly, and you need confidence and skill to master welding tools. Plumbing is slightly easier to get into because you can choose whether to complete a course or an apprenticeship to learn the trade. However, apprenticeships are hard to find. Many technical schools offer welding courses.
Can Plumbers Weld?
Plumbing and welding are two separate trades, but they often intersect in terms of knowledge. Welders work with various types of metal and fuse them together, and plumbers can use this information when they fit pipes to help water flow freely. Because welders don’t always need to be licensed to work, plumbers are often qualified to weld. They may, however, need knowledge of welding tools and techniques to minimize risk.
What Is the Expected Salary for a Plumber or Welder?
You can earn a decent living whether you choose to become a plumber or welder. Your job title plays a huge role in the amount of money you make each year because some opportunities include overtime pay and others do not. Plumbers typically make slightly more money than welders, but plumbers may also have to work more overtime hours, which could affect their quality of life.
In the United States, welders make an average of $20.27 per hour. This hourly wage translates to an annual salary of approximately $42,161. Depending upon your job type, you may be eligible for overtime work and pay that could increase your earnings drastically. In general, however, there are fewer overtime opportunities within the welding industry than there are in plumbing.
Plumbers, on the other hand, make an average of $26.40 per hour, or $56,912 annually. This is slightly more than the average salary in the United States. Plumbers also have frequent overtime opportunities that could further increase their salaries. Additionally, you stand to earn a higher salary when you have more than 10 years of experience. However, the demand for overtime work may reduce your work/life balance.
What Are the Insurance Requirements for Plumbing VS Welding?
Insurance requirements for plumbers vary from state to state, but there are no federal requirements dictating that all plumbers need insurance to practice. However, many plumbers find it difficult to get jobs unless they are insured. Residential plumbers may be able to practice without insurance, but few businesses will hire commercial plumbers without insurance. It is best practice to invest in liability insurance, but you may also decide to get a policy that covers:
- Legal fees
- Medical expenses associated with injuries
- Property damage
- Workers’ compensation
You may work for a plumbing company under the insurance of a master plumber. Unless you plan to open your own company, you can likely work under the insurance of your employer.
Welding poses a risk of damaging property, so welders are almost always required to have insurance to work independently. However, many companies that hire welders hold the proper insurance, so you probably won’t need your own welding insurance unless you work as a freelance welder.
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What Career Opportunities Are Available for Plumbers and Welders?
You may think of the people who work on the pipes under your sink or in your bathroom when you think of plumbers. Working for a plumbing company is certainly a valid career option in the industry, and you may even want to open your own plumbing company. You could also choose to work as a steamfitter, gas service technician or pipelayer.
The plumbing industry is projected to grow 5% by 2030, so there is a high demand for plumbers. You are qualified to work with any type of pipe and fluid when you work as a plumber, so you can find a wide variety of career paths within the field.
People who work with metal and fabricate equipment are in high demand. The welding industry is projected to grow 8% within the next 10 years. With the demand so high, there are many career opportunities within the industry. You may choose to work as a freelance welder if you have a head for business and can generate clients easily. You can also choose to work in a factory as a sheet metal worker or fabricator. Welders can also become boilermakers, jewelry makers and pipe fitters.
What Are the Working Hours for Plumbing VS Welding?
As a plumber, you can expect to have steady work throughout the year. In addition to the standard 40-hour work week, you will often have to go on call and work evenings and weekends to address emergencies. You’ll be paid for overtime, but you may not have the work-life balance you want when you are frequently on call.
Welders don’t have as many emergencies as plumbers do, so there is less overtime available. You can expect to work 40 hours a week, but the quality of your work/life balance will vary depending upon which shift you have. Since many welding jobs are found in factories, you may work first, second or third shift as a welder. People who work first shift have evenings and weekends free, so they often have a great work/life balance. If you work second or third shift, you may not have the same work/life balance, although you will have the same number of working hours.
What Are the Job Risks for Plumbers and Welders?
Plumbing is generally a career choice with few risks. There is a risk of being injured by exploding pipes, and you may get cut by metal when you are working to replace pipes in small spaces. The biggest hazard for plumbers, however, is they are at risk of being exposed to sewage that could be hazardous to their health. With a few precautions, all of these risks are minimal.
Welding is a much more dangerous job. You will work with power tools, intense heat and sheet metal to fuse equipment together and create metal structures, and if you don’t know exactly what you are doing, you could get burned or injured by your tools. You must practice extreme caution to weld safely. Confidence and safety equipment reduces the risks of welding.
What Are the Physical Requirements for Plumbers and Welders?
Plumbing and welding both are physical trades. You must have good manual dexterity in your hands to work in either field, and you also need to be physically strong to meet the demands of either job.
Plumbers must be capable of lifting loads of at least 50 pounds. In some cases, they may need to lift 100-pound loads. The work is very physical, and plumbers may also need to bend and stoop to fix pipes in small, cramped spaces.
You may not need to lift heavy loads frequently as a welder, but you need to be capable of lifting at least 50 pounds. You may need to kneel or stoop to work on welding projects, but you also need the physical capability to stand for a long time to ensure job completion.
What Are the Training and Education Costs for Plumbers and Welders?
You must complete training whether you choose to work as a welder or a plumber. The cost of training varies widely depending upon the school you choose.
If you decide to become a plumber, you have the option to work as an apprentice. Although approved apprenticeships are rare, if you can land one, you will have the opportunity to earn money as you learn the trade and gain the skills necessary to build a successful career.
If you cannot find an apprenticeship and prefer to complete a certifying program, you have many options around the nation. A good training program will combine expert instruction and hands-on learning to provide you with the skills you need. Some of the techniques you will cover in a good training course include:
- Pipe fitting
- Plumbing codes
Each school that offers plumbing programs has its own tuition. On average, online programs can be completed within a year and cost as little as $800. In-person programs cost approximately $1,200. You can then start as an entry-level plumber with a licensed company so you can learn about the nuances of the trade. You must work at this level for several years before you are eligible for a journeyman license.
You must take a welding course to be certified in the trade. Welding programs are typically more expensive than plumbing courses, but they can be completed much more quickly so you can start your career earlier. Some welding courses can be completed in as little as seven months with a starting cost of $5,000. If you want to enroll in a more extensive program that covers multiple welding types and techniques, expect certification to take up to 15 months. These programs start at $15,000, but you’ll be eligible for higher-paying jobs if you complete this type of program.
Recommended: Welding Schools and Careers: State-by-State Directory
What Are the Licensing Requirements for Plumbers and Welders?
Requirements for plumbing licenses vary among states. There is no national licensure, but many states require you to hold a local license to practice plumbing. In general, you must complete a training course or an apprenticeship before you can become a journeyman. You must work as a journeyman for several years before you are eligible to sit for the master’s license exam.
However, you are not required to hold a license if you work for a company. You may practice plumbing under the license of your employer, and you only need to seek out licensure if you plan to work as an independent plumber.
Many states do not require welders to be licensed. However, being certified by the American Welding Society improves your reputation as a welder and ensures that clients feel comfortable entrusting you with their projects. Remember that certification by the AWS does not allow you to work in any state; it simply provides proof of your ability to complete welding projects.
What Is Life Like as a Plumber or Welder?
As a plumber, you can expect to earn an above-average salary. You will usually have a decent work environment, but you may occasionally be required to handle sewage or work in cramped spaces that may make you uncomfortable. However, your work/life balance will likely be excellent when you are not on call for overtime work.
Welders have a better work environment because they don’t have to complete jobs in cramped or dirty spaces. They earn a decent salary, but they do typically make less money than plumbers. The job is riskier than plumbing, but the working hours are more stable. Even if you work second or third shift, you can likely get into a routine that gives you a good work/life balance.
Whether you choose to become a plumber or a welder, you can have a lucrative career. They are both great job options, but you must take your desired lifestyle into consideration to decide which career path is best for your goals. Learn about welding vs plumbing to see which job option best meets your needs.