A career question to all plumbers

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by mattbrook, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. mattbrook

    mattbrook New Member


    Hello all,

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I'm 27 and am in IT. I would like to learn a new skill. I always liked to be an plumber. For one it's hands on, you can't ship it out to China or India ( Like I have seen many times) and you get to see the finally product. I was considering taking a class NEXT fall when I am 28 for 13 months. If any one can give me the advice on the following it would be much help.

    -How is the market for a plumber ?

    - I hear trades are in demand. Atleast in North America. Is this true ?

    - Are the many types of certifications that I can take ?

    - Not that this is the be all and end all but how is the pay for an plumber ? My father says he has NEVER seen a broke or out of work plumber.

    Any advice will do. Thanks in advance,

    Matt :D
  2. stay away

    dont take this personally.....

    if you have any braines what-so-ever stay
    away from this field..

    it is a failry good living ONLY if you own the business

    but if you are just going to be working for someone,
    its not really that bright a future.... working in shit..that is..
    digging ditches for the man, that is...

    all for somewhere between 12 to 27 per hour . the 27 range will be
    after you have been in it for a long, long time.
    and probably burned through a number of companies to get there.

    just take the time to go to any plumging supply house
    and look at the morons that are comming and going from the
    place and ask yourself if you could spend the next
    ten years living in the same fox hole with any of these slobs...

    I dont know what you are capable of or
    even wether you graduated high school...

    but the dummies you are going to be rubbing elbows with
    for the rest of yourlife will literally drain your brain after
    a while...and drag you down...

    I fired all my employees because of this same reason,
    I can do a better job myself, and dont have to baby sit dummies.


    you are still fairly young and you can still apply yourself to
    achieve much higher goals than this.

    might I suggest going into some area
    involved with the medical profession???
    you are going to spend the same amount of time
    earning either an Associates degree

    With Just A few years of college,
    then earn a mdeical degree in nurseing or something along those lines,
    and then you are surrounded by
    beautiful ladies in a clean environment
    and you will be makeing
    the same or better money....
    and you wont be surrounded by a bunch of
    beer drinking morons talking that talk.

    now go to any hospital and look at the peopel that are
    comming and going from those places....look at the cars
    they drive, the clothes they wear..
    most of them probalby got smiles on their faces
    If I were working with a lot of nice looking gals every
    day, I would be smileing too...

    can you figure out the reason why this is a better choice than
    working the end of a SHOVEL for the rest of your life?????

    you can dream about doing plumbing projects on your
    new 250k house on the weekends...

    this is the best advice you will ever get...

    what you do with it is your choice.

    good luck and I hope you have a great life.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2005
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Boy, you have not only been working in s***, it has also affected your outlook on life. Maybe you should go into the nursing business, but if you do become an R.N. with the highest degree you can get, otherwise your life will not be any better than you describe for the plumbing "grunts". The R.N.'s, (at least most of them), enjoy making life miserable for those under them and try to shift as much work off onto those underlings whenever possible. When I was working for a company, I made a VERY good income, and only went in business for myself when conditions made it necessary.
  4. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber


    My advice would be to work at construction plumbing long enough to become a journeyman. Then find a job where you can learn to do service work. Meaning that you want to become good at all kinds of things that a home owner or small business could throw at you.
    You will never know everything and don't pretend ever that you do.
    Plumbing service work will always be there. While your doing that take some time and get your masters license.
    Construction plumbing and being a good service plumber are like two different trades. So you should think about that too.
    Matt, if you decide to become a plumber, just remember that its a good trade and that takes a lot of time and effort.
  5. Kristi

    Kristi Tradesman Plumber

    Vancouver, BC
    MASTER PLUMBER MARK!!! you have stunned me! I can't believe all that stuff you said... Matt, I'm going to give you another point of view to look at here, please ignore the fact that I'm a chick, because the experiences should be similiar (except my dad worked me to the bone to make sure no one could accuse him of favouring his daughter!):

    1. it's a great trade, one to be very proud of - I consider plumbers to be THE providers of our civilized society as well as essential for maintaining this status. Without qualified plumbers, our waste and water would be all one soupy mix and we'd be using outhouses still. Disease would be rampant.

    2. it's hard work which in turn is extremely rewarding - hands on work for your body and your brain. My dad has been doing this for 45 years and says that he is still learning every day... we get very excited about the newer technologies that have entered our field, like Geothermal heating and cooling

    3. a machine will never take your job away - the world will ALWAYS need plumbers

    4. once you've done your time (4 years in school and onsite), you can be selective about where you want to be within the field: I have the choice to be in new construction for residential or commercial (where my experience began); I moved up north to work as a pipefitter and earned big bucks; gave service work a go; I've been in the office with a company to run their projects; I have my gas ticket and spent half my apprenticeship sprinkler fitting ( I could offshoot to either of those with a little more schooling behind me); I've had multiple opportunities with the city to become a plumbing inspector (the dark side? NEVER!!!); and ultimately I decided to start my own company and provide service work and kitchen/bathroom renovations. This is all after 14 relatively short years in the trade! It seems like there's always ads in the paper looking for plumbers, and apprentices too.

    5. the pay is honest and great, depending on where you are on the ladder. Of course it's less when you're starting out, up here it's about $10/hr

    6. I simply cannot justify any more about it... I love my trade to pieces, and will do it for the rest of my life. Poo is not the only thing that comes with this trade!!!

    MARK! This is an official scolding (lol) - we need apprentices, who else is going to pick up where you have left off? We're in a trades crisis and it's not getting any better... the solution to our problem (of retiring old timers taking their experience to the grave without sharing it first) is to encourage others who are interested to explore our trade. tsk tsk tsk! lol...
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2005
  6. scold me and spank me too,

    you all know what I am talking about here....come on people.

    how many employees have come and gone through

    your doors over the years...

    I honestly would rather not paint a pretty picture for the guy

    than to tell him its all rosey and peachy keen out there

    Telling him to do plumbing part time on his own 250k
    house on the weekends
    seems like very, very good advice to me...


    I have gone through probably 30-40 "apprentice plumbers"

    over the years and only 2 fellows ever went on to get their journreymans

    card. The rest just moved on to another 25c per hour somewhere else .

    The "plumbers" that came through my door claiming to be journeymen

    plumbers were already "ruined--spoiled" and were not worth the money

    that they were wanting.... too good to really work anymore.

    They were already chaseing that "union pipe dream" where they

    could be makeing supposedly 29 per hour plus benefits...for basically doing nothing.

    work 6 months, sit on the bench 6 months...what a life...

    Yes , all in all its a good trade, and I agree with the person that said to learn all about the service work...its the best area to stay.
    New construction is for the young fellows and service is for the
    veterans,,,, service work is best.


    I think the advice more depends on what the fellows aptitude is and
    what he seems to like and dislike...

    would he rather break down a car on the weekend
    or go golfing??? Read a book or reapir something???

    I only know for a fact from experience,
    that wearing a pair of Cart Hart over-alls
    and digging a slab for a restraunt in below zero weather
    with snow up to your knees for a week
    straight is not for everybody.

    ITS better that he figure this out now than
    when he is pushing 47. and cant
    do anything else.

    but that is just my honest opinion.

    HI , it sounds like you got tired of working for someone else too..
    so you had to start your own business or just "hunker down" and pull
    the load for someone else, right???

    How many years did you put in before you
    simply had to go out on your own??
    Bassically, You peaked out on what you could make
    and it was either go out on your own or accept
    what you were makeing and just grin and bear it.
    I am sure you are
    glad you finally did it, and that is really about the only

    freedom or "perk" a plumbers life really has....the freedom to possibly
    make whatever you choose to in a year.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2005
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    HJ , it sounds like you got tired of working for someone else too..
    so you had to start your own business or just "hunker down" and pull
    the load for someone else, right???

    How many years did you put in before you
    simply had to go out on your own??
    Bassically, You peaked out on what you could make
    and it was either go out on your own or accept
    what you were makeing and just grin and bear it.
    I am sure you are
    glad you finally did it, and that is really about the only

    freedom or "perk" a plumbers life really has....the freedom to possibly
    make whatever you choose to in a year.

    No, I didn't get tired of working for someone else. In fact I basically ran a company from my second year as an apprentice until 20 years later, when I took a Sabbatical and went to work for a university to get their computer system set up and running. While there I taught the professors and staff how to run their software. Then I moved here and went to work for one of the larger companies. The union tried their darnedest to make me go back to Chicago, but the owner would not let them replace me. But the "hired help" was jealous of the money I was making and got the dispatcher to start cutting me back, so I left and went to work for a new company, but they started the same thing after they hired one of my former co-workers. It was at that point I got fed up with it, and even though I had always said I would not run my own company, I had to do it then, because the union said that if I quit the company, I would sit on the bench and they would NEVER get me another placement, at least not for a year or more.
  8. the best perks..

    I hope I didnt dredje up any bad memories

    but it seems like that is the way things
    work in the unions , you could sit on the bench
    forever if you dont play ball or are not related to
    some one...

    I have heard talk about how everyone gets jealous
    of others makeing more money , ect ect...

    you can only climb so high, I hear.

    the best revenge is to have a successful business
    of your own.
  9. RioHyde

    RioHyde Plumber

    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I worked in the medical field for 13 years and finally started college to study software engineering during my 9th year of working in a hospital. At the end of my 3rd year of college circumstances dictated that I move from Atlanta to Cincinnati thereby interrupting my education. One day it just hit me.....I couldnt stand the thought of being chained up to a desk for the rest of my working life. I chucked it all, took a pay cut and started my plumbing apprenticeship when I was 31 and I have to say it was the smartest move I ever made. During my apprenticeship and a couple of years beyond I worked in the commercial/industrial end of plumbing then moved into residential service work for a couple of years. I'm now back to doing commercial work and just doing residential service on my own in the evenings and weekends.

    This trade has been EXTREMELY good to me and I havent regretted for one moment the decision I made to move from an office job to the plumbing trade. However, Mark is right, it isnt all peaches and cream and its possible there may be a few years of struggling both physically and financially as it was for me, but all that pales when compared to the position I am in now.

    Plumber1 is right on the money when he says that the commercial and service ends of the trade are completely different and I echo his advise concerning learning BOTH. Though you may prefer one over the other I feel it's important to be a well rounded plumber by learning as much as you can. What I've learned about plumbing service work I feel only lends itself to make me a better commercial plumber and vice versa.

    This is a big decision to make and you're doing the right thing by getting opinions and commentary from those in the trade. Though this line of work isnt for everybody if you do decide that this is the right move for you put 100% of yourself into it and it will eventually pay off.

    Good luck!
  10. mattbrook

    mattbrook New Member


    Thanks to you all your advice. Your words and advice were not taken for granted. That first post really got to me, but advice is advice. I here trades are in demand and with the baby boomers retiring it will only get better. I was Torn between Welder, Plumber or Electrician. I cut it down to plumber or electrician. Both are in demand and I LOVE the hands on aspect there for you can NOT ship it out. Well still thinking. Can't find any schools to be a plumber but a great one to be a electrician. Sad thing is I don't have a PASSION to one thing in life. I want to learn, I like to learn and I too hate being @ a desk. Kind of like where I am out now lol. Thanks for all the help and keep it up.

    Matt :)
  11. Cal

    Cal New Member

    Northern Virginia
    MPM - You speak SOME truths but LIGHTEN UP !! We've all done our time.It made us better. Stop with the drama .

    Matt, Why not try a plumbing job? You don't HAVE to stay in if it's not for you .
    You sound like an intelligent young man , Control work on heating/air conditioning is NOT ankle deep in S*** all day and pays GREAT !

    I do know that in Northern Virginia , we need twice the number of good plumbers that we have. If you are counting votes ,put me in with Kristi,,,It's a VERY good & fufilling life !

    Best of luck !!
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Cave Creek, Arizona

    If you become an electrician you have to take a special course on how to run a 1/2" conduit through a very large space and still take up all the room so people have to crawl over it or under it to get by. You have to decide which you would rather do. Be electrocuted or squashed by a falling pipe, (we had both happen recently in this area). The one thing you do not want to do is go into any trade just because you will get a bigger paycheck. If you do that, after a few years you will start talking like MPM, but will be too old to correct your mistake. If you work for someone else they have all the headaches and you get a regular paycheck. If you run your own business you have all the headaches and get a paycheck when all the other bills are paid.
  13. MPM is a happy guy

    hey hi, I am ok with the plumbers life...dont get me wrong

    I am sorry about all the drama......

    I make good money, live in a big house, had a big boat ..ect......

    I am just living the PLUMBING DREAM buddy....WOW!!

    and doing it all over again I would not change much,
    except maybe finish the college education

    I simply see things from the experiences I have had ...

    lord god ...I should write a book..

    When I was younger ( and a whole lot dumber, ) working for a
    few small outfits out west, in Denver

    I had a couple of bosses that I literally had to
    make coffee for them to sober them up on a cold morning.......

    those jobs didnt last long, but were very eye - opening to me

    about the future that lay before me if I fooled around too much

    working for some small time company that might not make

    payroll next week.

    I did have had checks bounce on me too.

    That is the nature of our industry....companies come and go.

    Owners sell out and move on too , leaving you all high and dry.

    Then all you got to fall back on

    is your experience as a plumber to get you another job, and

    you damn well better have earned your Journeymens Liscense

    or you start all over again at the bottom.

    so what he does with all this information is really up to him

    getting a good education is the best thing he could ever do

    in my opinion.......... in whatever field he chooses.

    so whatever makes him happy,
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2005
  14. mattbrook

    mattbrook New Member

    Tx's guys

    HJ, Well I'd like to take a 10 months course that is 70 % hands on and work under someone for 2 to 3 years and than go work for a company. HECK It's like MPM said,it's all about education. Anyways all you have been very helpful. I'll keep checkin for updates. And i'll keep you up to date with what I do. ...If you care ;)
  15. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    What to do?

    Make a decision and stick to it and tough it out and I definitely recommend doing service and working alone. There is a good living for you if you go that route. It may seem like you will never get there, but just persevere. It's very rewarding.
  16. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    San Diego
    Yes we do care. We would be happy to hear from you from time to time as your career progresses.

    Best advice, which was given by several folks here: whatever you do in life, do it well and with pride. To be a good plumber or a good anything, learn the trade. Soak up information like a sponge. Learn the techniques, learn the materials, learn the codes. Learn how to work with others. Eventually learn how to supervise others. You will do well in any walk of life.
  17. mattbrook

    mattbrook New Member

    Tx's guys. I appreciate your advice. :)
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