Since the dawn of indoor plumbing, toilets have needed installing, wads of hair have had to be cleaned out of pipes, and someone has had to figure out why water won’t stop flooding out of the washer. And thus, plumbers were born. They’re more than just pants that hang too low in the back; they’re an absolutely essential part of keeping a household running and working. While plumbing may not be for everyone, it does have its perks.
Pro: No formal training necessary.
It takes absolutely no formal training. Now, that’s not to say no training, but if college isn’t part of your intended career path, then it’s definitely something to consider. Some vocational schools offer plumbing courses, and there is an apprenticeship period, as well. You spend a few years working under someone who is already a plumber, which can be a relief for someone who’s afraid of being thrown in with very little experience.
Con: But there is a test.
The apprenticeship period can take up to five years, depending on previous work experience, additional courses, and state requirements. Additionally, there’s a written test to become an official licensed plumber, which is nerve-racking if you want to be a plumber to get away from reading and writing.
There’s also a certain freedom to being a plumber: if you’re successful enough, you may be able to start your own business, which means scheduling your own hours and appointments. If you don’t want to do that, it’s one of the best construction jobs available. It also has excellent anticipated growth at 21% over the next 10 years, which is better than average, and very decent pay with an average salary of around $50,000 a year.
Con: Long, irregular hours.
Regardless of whether you’re working for yourself or someone else, the hours as a plumber are long. You’re looking at a lot of late night and weekend hours, especially for emergency positions or 24-hour service. If you’re claustrophobic, chances are you’re going to be rather uncomfortable as a plumber, since much of their time is spent in pretty cramped quarters. Not only that, but the rate of injury and illness is higher than normal. Plumbing is hard work. We’re talking backed up toilets and gobs of who-knows-what that has been building up for 20 years stopping up kitchen sinks. But if that doesn’t stop you, you have a very stable, high-paying career on your hands in plumbing.