Plumbers are the people who install and maintain pipes in our homes and businesses. These pipes are needed for potable water, drainage, irrigation, and sewage, as well as many other uses. Plumbers can be involved in hands-on work or may work in a design capacity, drafting blueprints and helping make the installation process more efficient. This is a profession with an extensive number of possible career paths. Some of the best paying jobs are in the more unusual specialities, since there is less competition. This can be a very rewarding career, as evidenced by survey data that indicates that licensed professionals in the field tend to remain in the profession for their entire career. Many even continue part-time well past the usual retirement age, helping the next generation by providing apprenticeships and learning opportunities.
Someone interested in becoming a plumber would be interested to know that the stereotypical job as a residential plumber is only a small portion of the available career opportunities for an experienced professional. An expert in plumbing is aware of building regulations and safety standards and works to make sure these standards are upheld. Legal expertise can also be an aspect of plumbing, since the laws regulating this trade vary depending on where you live, and can be difficult for a layperson to understand. Testing pipes for leakage using air pressure and other gauges, and also the ability to construct new pipe systems by cutting, fitting, measuring and threading pipes are some of the other more involved aspects of plumbing. Plumbers often work right alongside architects, as they can contribute valuable knowledge about the best positions for wall passage and fixture locations, saving the architect valuable time and avoiding expensive mistakes.
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Regulations vary, depending on where you live, but completing a plumbing course in trade school followed by an apprenticeship is probably the most common route to becoming a licensed professional. The length of time it takes to begin a new career in plumbing is difficult to define because every case is different, but a career arc of several years from beginning training to working as full-fledged plumber would be typical. However, this profession tends to be one where the learning doesn't really ever end, and experienced plumbers that have been in the field for twenty years will learn new technologies and aspects of the profession as the need arises. Job satisfaction is high within in the industry, and this might be one reason why.
Odd hours, long hours, weekends, and holidays spent working are almost a given in many if not most plumbing jobs. Good physical condition is also a valuable asset for someone considering this as a possible career. Less than ten percent of licensed plumbers are women, but this statistic has been changing (albeit gradually) over the last twenty years. Many opportunities exist for women, especially where government contracts are involved. This is a challenging career, best suited to people who are motivated, hard-working and patient. Good customer service skills and an outgoing personality are also important assets for a residential professional that needs the trust and return business of his or her clients.
Job security tends to be good in this field, because people will always need plumbing. A day in the life of a plumber might include fielding midnight phone calls from a frantic customer with a broken pipe, or it might involve working for an architectural firm or on a construction site. Many plumbers are self-employed or work for a small business employing less than ten people, though some might find working for larger entities or the government is more desirable. Many large buildings employ their own staff, including school districts, college campuses, airports, and municipal buildings. The military is another large employer of plumbing professionals, though past experience as a member of the armed forces may be a prerequisite. Simply put, anywhere that has or needs to have running water is an opportunity for potential customers. Even motor vehicles such as buses, recreational vehicles, large airplanes, yachts, and cruise ships all need the installation of plumbing and will need repair work from time to time.