Duties and responsibilities
Residential plumbers install, maintain, and repair pipes in residential buildings. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Interpreting the blueprints and building specifications to map layout for pipes, drainage systems, and other plumbing materials in residential buildings
- Installing pipes and fixtures in residential buildings, these must be in accordance to all guidelines
- Installing supports for pipes, equipment, and fixtures prior to installation
- Assembles fittings and valves for installation and modifying the lengths of pipes, fixtures, and other plumbing materials
- Collaborating with other construction workers, such as contractors, construction workers, electricians, pipefitters, and steamfitters in installing and repairing plumbing
- Choosing the correct plumbing materials based on the clients budget
- Performing tests, analysis and inspections of plumbing systems to identify problems and replacing worn parts
To become a residential plumber, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. You will then need to complete an apprenticeship program, during which you will learn all the skills you need from experienced plumbers and through instruction. Residential plumbers need to pass exams in order to be qualified to practice.
Skills and relevant work experience
In order to have the best possible employment opportunities, residential plumbers should aim to get as much experience in the construction industry. Residential plumbers also need skills such as:
- Physical fitness and stamina, as residential plumbers will have to kneel down and stand up for long periods of time
- Communication skills are key as residential plumbers need to be able to communicate with clients and other construction workers
- Detail orientation, as residential plumbers need to ensure that they pipes and fixtures in accordance to blueprints and instructions
- Dexterity, as residential plumbers must be able to place pipes down with precision and accuracy
- Critical thinking, as residential plumbers must be able to problem-solve when issues arise in a project. Such issues may include a project running on for longer than expected or the materials ordered being the wrong size
Residential plumbers tend to work full time. However, they may routinely work long hours when projects are nearing completion or during economic boom times when the demand for new construction intensifies. Evening, holiday and weekend hours are often necessary, as residential plumbers are routinely on-call for emergency repairs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters was $55,160 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $97,170.
Apprentices tend to earn less than qualified plumbers and plumbers may experience more unemployment during economic downturns.
The employment growth of plumbers is expected to increase over the coming years, offering many exciting employment opportunities. After completing an apprenticeship program and passing the required exams, plumbers become ‘journey-level workers’, which means they are qualified to perform tasks independently. After several years of plumbing experience, plumbers can sit another exam to earn ‘master’ status. Plumbers may also advance to become supervisor, project manager or they may choose to start their own business as an independent contractor.