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Is a career in plumbing for you?

Is a career in plumbing for you?

When you think of the term “plumber,” you might think of someone who fixes water pipes or unclogs drains. Water is a big part of a plumber’s job, but plumbers do a lot more than fix pipes. In this series, we’re going to explore plumbing as a career, what it takes to become a plumber, and what kind of opportunities are available in plumbing and related trades.

Believe it or not, plumbing is one of the key components of any modern society. Plumbers build and maintain systems that bring fresh water into buildings, and remove wastewater safely. Plumbers also work with pipes that carry gases to and from buildings. As such, plumbers often work in both the plumbing and heating/cooling trades.

Plumbing can be specialized

Plumbers can specialize in commercial or residential work, or they can do both. Specialty plumbers include pipelayers, pipefitters, gas fitters and steamfitters. These plumbers work exclusively in specialized commercial and industrial construction and require additional training.

Plumbers work in people’s homes, and in commercial and industrial spaces. They can work exclusively for one employer, or they can work on multiple job sites on short-term assignments. Plumbers may or may not belong to a union. Many master plumbers are self-employed, and provide plumbing and related services to individuals and businesses in their communities.

Because a plumber’s work can affect people’s health and safety, plumbers require special training and licensing to do their jobs. The state licenses plumbers. Each state manages its own licensing program, but all states have similar licensing requirements. The type of license a plumber has determines the kind of supervision he or she works under. To become a licensed plumber, you must complete a training program that combines classroom learning with on-the-job learning. You must also update your license periodically with additional training and education.

Plumbing involves clean water, dirty water and gas

Plumbers can work on any portion of a water system. On the “clean” side, plumbers may install or replace pipes and fixtures, locate and repair leaks, install water heaters, water filters and repair water pressure problems. They can also install gas service lines. In homes, natural gas (or propane) lines are likely to be the only gas lines you might see. In commercial spaces, plumbers may install fire suppression systems, natural gas lines, lines for compressed air, welding gases, or other gases (like anesthesia or oxygen) in medical facilities.

On the “dirty” side, plumbers work on drains, sewers, plumbing ventilation, septic and sump systems. They may also install dry wells or other catchment systems to manage rainwater runoff and “grey water.”

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems often require plumbing and ventilation, so it is common to find plumbers working in HVAC operations. In addition to installation of furnaces, boilers, chillers and cooling systems, plumbers perform scheduled and emergency HVAC maintenance.

Plumbing can be a 24-hour job

As a profession, plumbing requires some level of physical fitness because the job often involves climbing, crawling, lifting, working with your arms over your head and in small spaces. In addition to the physical demands of the job, plumbers are problem-solvers. The most successful plumbers can diagnose and repair existing systems, and develop creative, individualized solutions for difficult situations.

Some plumbers work exclusively during the day, but most residential plumbing services offer some type of 24-hour service. Plumbing emergencies are just that – emergencies! They must be addressed immediately because plumbing problems can put people’s health and safety at risk. The same is true with heating and cooling problems. Additionally, some commercial work may only be done when the business is closed. As a result, plumbing isn’t considered a traditional “9-to-5” job.

If you’re considering a career in plumbing or HVAC, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to discuss your career options and let you know how you can get started in the trade.

Photo Credit: Duncan c, via Flickr.com

Looking For A Job In Boston? Plumbing Is A Great Profession

We may be a little biased about this, but the Boston Globe recently ran an item about the most overrated and underrated jobs. Coming in at Number 10 on the “underrated” list was “plumber”. Plumbing isn’t glamorous, by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re looking for a new career, or haven’t decided what you want to do with your life, plumbing has a lot going for it!

As it turns out, plumbing is a “growth industry,” at least as far as the Bureau of Labor Statistics can tell. Demand for plumbers in Massachusetts is up even though construction isn’t generating a lot of new buildings right now. Better still, the demand for plumbers is expected to remain high through 2020.

Plumbers do more than just unclog drains. As a plumber, you’ll be licensed by the State, and can work in either a residential or commercial setting. You may or may not be part of a union. Plumbers work on both existing and new systems, and with both fresh and wastewater. In addition, plumbers also install pipes and valves for liquid, gas and steam delivery systems, as well as fire control systems like those found in commercial buildings. Education includes formal classroom training, as well as a significant period of on-the-job training supervised by a master plumber.

In Massachusetts, about 8,800 people are licensed as plumbers, pipefitters and/or steamfitters. These three occupations are all related. Pipefitters and steamfitters usually work exclusively in commercial settings, including new construction projects, commercial remodeling, in hospitals and in other commercial buildings.

The annual mean wage for plumbers in Massachusetts in 2011 was about $66,500. Keep in mind that this isn’t a starting salary. This figure represents the average wage of all plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters, regardless of their level of experience. A better estimate for a starting salary for plumbers is in the mid-$40,000 range.

Massachusetts ranks second among all states for mean wages among plumbers, meaning that Massachusetts plumbers are among the best-paid in the nation. Within the state, plumbing professionals in Peabody enjoy the highest mean annual salaries. This metropolitan area is the only area in Massachusetts that ranked nationally in terms of salary, despite the overall high salary potential in the state.

At Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating, we provide both plumbing and heating & cooling services, so our crew is certified to handle all plumbing, heating and cooling issues that you might encounter. We work on gas as well as steam/water heating systems, and we perform oil-to-gas conversions, winterizations, system maintenance and other services.

If you’re interested in plumbing as a profession, or would like more information about the services we provide at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating, please contact us at (617) 288-2911.