Tricks of the trade

How much do plumbers make? See why it pays to be a plumber

by Billy Stutz


Like all major life choices, employment and career decisions should be made with care. Whether you’re a recent high school graduate entering the workforce or an employed professional looking to make a strategic career move, the choice to pursue a career as a professional plumber could be rewarding in a number of ways. Check out plumber salary and employment statistics and discover how becoming a professional in the plumbing, pipefitting and steamfitting industry could pay off.

  • Plumbers have high earning potential. According to the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, the median income for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters nationwide is over $50,620 annually. That’s significantly higher than the national median income for all occupations at $36,200. The average plumber’s salary varies from region to region and depends on years of experience, but plumbers in certain metropolitan areas can earn over $80,000 on average every year. Depending on where you live and how long you work in the industry, choosing to become a plumber could boost your bank account.

Top paying states for plumbers*

  • Average hourly wage: $34.96
  • Average annual wage: $72,730
new york
New York
  • Average hourly wage: $34.84
  • Average annual wage: $72,480
  • Average hourly wage: $34.71
  • Average annual wage: $72,200
  • Average hourly wage: $33.63
  • Average annual wage: $69,950
  • Average hourly wage: $33.51
  • Average annual wage: $69,700

*According to the 2015 Occupational Employment and Wages report for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

  • There is an increased demand for plumbers. The plumbing industry is projected to grow by 12% over a 12-year period according to the BLS. It’s also expected that more plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters will be retiring over the next decade. Some employers have already expressed difficulty finding qualified workers in the plumbing industry. Earning your plumbing certification means you’ll have a highly sought-after skill that will give you a competitive edge when seeking employment.

  • A plumbing career can help you keep debt to a minimum. At a time when 68 percent of college seniors are graduating from a four-year university with student loan debt, choosing a career in the trades could be a smart choice. This is especially true given the fact that the average student loan debt owed per borrower is over $30,000. The cost to enroll in trade school varies from state to state, but many states require a paid apprenticeship in addition to technical courses as part of the plumbing curriculum. This means you could get paid on-the-job training by pursuing a career as a plumber instead of taking out a hefty student loan to pay for a traditional undergraduate education.

  • Plumbers can enjoy stable employment. If the potential to earn overtime, work a predictable schedule and even choose when you work appeal to you, then becoming a plumber could be the right fit. Many commercial construction plumbers work a standard Monday-through-Friday schedule and enjoy weekends off. Some residential service plumbers do have to work after hours for emergency calls, but those standby shifts are typically scheduled in advance and can lead to ample overtime pay. Plumbers who own their business can choose the hours they work and enjoy being their own boss.

If you’re ready to take the plunge, the next step is to research your state’s requirements for becoming a plumber. Connect with local community colleges, check out apprenticeship programs in your area and discover the benefits of joining a trade organization after you earn your plumbing certification. As a member of the plumbing community, Ferguson supports careers in the professional trade industry. Explore our relationship with the Plumbing - Heating - Cooling Contractors association and see how you can Own the Job.

Billy Stutz

For more than 10 years, Billy has been a dedicated supply-chain strategist delivering quality information to his customers and offering solutions to drive actionable results to their bottom line.