Plumbers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Plumbers install and repair water, drainage, gas, and other piping systems in homes, businesses, and factories. Plumbers install plumbing fixtures such as bathtubs and toilets, and appliances, such as dishwashers and water heaters. Plumbers also maintain septic systemsthe large, underground holding tanks that collect waste from houses that are not connected to a sewer system.

Education Required
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to become a plumber, pipefitter, or steamfitter. Trade schools offer courses on pipe system design, safety, and tool use. They also offer welding courses that are considered necessary by some pipefitter and steamfitter apprenticeship training programs.
Training Required
Most plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters learn their trade through a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship. Apprentices typically receive 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training, as well as some classroom instruction, each year. In the classroom, apprentices learn safety, local plumbing codes and regulations, and blueprint reading. They also study mathematics, applied physics, and chemistry. Apprenticeship programs are offered by unions and businesses. Although most workers enter apprenticeships directly, some start out as helpers. The Home Builders Institute offers a pre-apprenticeship training program in plumbing and other trades.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 16% (Much faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Most states and localities require plumbers to be licensed. Although licensing requirements vary, most states and localities require workers to have 2 to 5 years of experience and to pass an exam that shows their knowledge of the trade and of local plumbing codes before they are permitted to work independently. In addition, most employers require plumbers to have a drivers license.
Median pay: How much do Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters make?
$51,450 Annual Salary
$24.74 per hour

Careers for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters

  • Apprentice pipefitters
  • Apprentice plumbers
  • Fire sprinkler installers
  • Fitters
  • Gas main fitters
  • Gas plumbers
  • Gasfitters
  • Hydraulic plumbers
  • Industrial gas fitters
  • Marine pipefitters
  • Marine steamfitters
  • Master plumbers
  • Pipefitter apprentices
  • Pipefitters
  • Plumber apprentices
  • Solar thermal installers
  • Sprinkler fitters
  • Steamfitters
  • Water pump installers

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