Plumbing career advice?

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Kevinjm4

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Not sure if this would be the place but does anyone have advice getting into the plumbing trade? Specific advice or general doesn’t matter anything is appreciated.

Currently I am a welder, been so going on 10 years or so, but thinking about the switch. Better money, could move anywhere in the country and a plumber is always in demand... welder maybe not quite as much - my thinking at least. Better money for plumbers as well so that’s always a plus raising a family.

I’m in the seattle area. At the moment all I can really tell is I’d need to apply at the union, and they use (or applicants go through them?) Seattle area Pipe Trades for apprenticeships.

Thanks in advance.
 
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James Henry

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I went through the plumbing apprenticeship with Phoenix AZ. LOCAL 469. We would travel to Seattle when work got slow in Phoenix. You are already a welder. If I were you I would go through the Pipefitter/ Welder apprenticeship, there are a lot more plumbers than pipefitters and not all pipefitters can weld.
 

Reach4

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Currently I am a welder, been so going on 10 years or so, but thinking about the switch. Better money, could move anywhere in the country and a plumber is always in demand...
I think normally it is hard to work in a different state than you are licensed in. It is not a matter of passing a skills test, but rather putting in hours under somebody in the state with a license. I could be wrong. I would be pleased to be wrong on this.

Texas had a special deal that they would honor plumbing licenses from other states after their big freeze caused an extreme shortage of plumbers.
 

Kevinjm4

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Perhaps I have a glamorous view of plumbers. It seems to me the options are simpler, and more than what a welder has. It seems relatively easy to start a plumbing business if that’s the route I wanted to take eventually. I can guarantee you no one in my neighborhood is googling “welder near me” but they are doing that for plumbers - right now probably in fact.

A welder either has to travel to the pipeline, Alaska, or work at a shipyard, or at heights as an iron worker - in order to make any money. None of those appeal to me. Pipefitter I don’t know much about but I could look into that but again I believe plumbers still make more than them and it also seems to me a much more useful skill to have in life.
 

James Henry

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Perhaps I have a glamorous view of plumbers. It seems to me the options are simpler, and more than what a welder has. It seems relatively easy to start a plumbing business if that’s the route I wanted to take eventually. I can guarantee you no one in my neighborhood is googling “welder near me” but they are doing that for plumbers - right now probably in fact.

A welder either has to travel to the pipeline, Alaska, or work at a shipyard, or at heights as an iron worker - in order to make any money. None of those appeal to me. Pipefitter I don’t know much about but I could look into that but again I believe plumbers still make more than them and it also seems to me a much more useful skill to have in life.
All good points. Buildings have chiller and steam lines that need to be fitted and welded. Go to the Union Hall and talk to someone. If you decide to be a plumber get welding certified and you can cross over. Don't waist your experience.
 

Reach4

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If somebody were to Google for a welder, would they find you? Also Yelp. One thing that comes to mind is letting local well drillers and service people know that you would be available to weld stuff including extending steel casings. I expect most drillers do their own welding, but some may want to use a subcontractor on occation

I am not trying to disuade you from plumbing.
 

MACPLUMB

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Do not try for a Union, go for a Open shop they will be willing to train you we cannot get enough Plumbers, but whatever you do be ready for a loss in wages
 

Jeff H Young

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35 years half union half non union . I can tell you there is good and bad truth is if you're making over 50 an hour in So Cal union with good retirement and full paid medical for entire family MOST guys won't work 40 hours every week and some struggle to keep busy non union is easier to keep busy for around 20 an hour less and no benefits.
I think for a welder welding pipe and pipefitting is a better route to go than plumbing I could go back and forth explaining why but welding , fitting , and fabricating can be rewarding and so is plumbing
Getting work non union is way easier training pretty nonexisting with 90 percent of jobs just teach on job my area doesn't usually require certifications for plumbing outside city of LA . but there are ways for self motivated to seek and learn. Learning repair work is one aspect , working building homes another , and working high rise and hospital , school or others yet another. Or you could get into something like water softener , filtration etc and never experience other aspects. Not likely going to get very good experience at all these aspects working for the union or working non union . non union chances are you'll never work on a hospital or do medical gas piping working union you'll never plumb a house (not in my area anyway)
another thing I've done is Worked in Refinery it was union but they have bounced back and forth between union and non union I'm told gets a a little political.
Unfortunately its hard to advise specifically because its such a varied field. but perhaps give thought as to which type of things you're interested in. Working pipefitting I was able to make some decent money in short amounts of time but had lapses of work and traveled some
 
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