If you're looking for a career that offers variety, independence, social interaction and job stability, think about plumbing. Plumbers install, repair and replace pipes that supply water and gas and carry away waste to residential homes, new high-rise buildings and more.
They install plumbing fixtures like toilets, sinks and bathtubs. They also know how all the pieces work together. They install appliances that are connected to the water supply, like dishwashers and hot water heaters. They measure and cut pipes to fit specific designs. Some plumbers also maintain septic systems, the underground holding tanks for waste for houses not connected to the public sewer system. Some plumbers work with CAD software, which uses 3D imagery to help design plumbing systems for larger projects.
Plumbers may have to get into cramped spaces to make repairs. They often work nights and weekends for emergency repairs.
- Install and repair pipes for water, gas and other fluids
- Install fixtures and appliances
- Interpret blueprints to lay out pipes
- Install supports for pipes and equipment
- Assemble fittings and valves
- Inspect and test plumbing systems for leaks and other problems
- Follow safety standards and comply with building codes
- Collaborate with others on the construction team
- Prepare bids
A high school diploma or equivalent is not generally required. Training is available through trade schools and community colleges, with courses in pipe system design, tool use, safety, local plumbing codes and blueprint reading. Many workers become plumbers through apprenticeship programs, which typically last four to five years and involve paid, on-the-job training and technical instruction. To work independently, plumbers must pass an exam covering trade knowledge and local codes, be licensed and certified, and have two to five years of experience, though specific requirements vary by state and city. Other certifications are not mandatory but may create more job opportunities.
- Enjoy problem-solving and are mechanically inclined
- Have excellent analytical skills
- Listen and communicate well
- Are collaborative
- Have the physical strength to lift heavy tools and materials