Sweet Smell of Cash for Plumbers.
While working underneath a house, Joseph Rosenblum, a plumber at practice in northwest Arkansas, confronted a skunk and discovered a gift that he formerly hadn’t been aware of: Running quite quickly.
"At least its tail wasn’t facing me," he recalled. "I had a tiny bit of an opportunity to get out of there until I got sprayed. "
Smelly creatures, sewage baths and late-night crisis calls to fix broken pipes are all part of the mix in Mr. Rosenblum’s line of work.
Nevertheless, the capability to earn a fantastic living, doing a job that he finds profitable, outweighs the drawbacks, Mr. Rosenblum, 34, said. He figures that if he works hard, he could earn from $50,000 to $70,000 a year or more, once he’s fully licensed.
"I know plumbers that earn $80,000, $90,000 a year," he explained in a recent interview, after spending an afternoon clearing a clogged drain in a restaurant.
Turns out there may be some thing to the advice your meddling uncle gave you in your high school graduation, about bypassing college and becoming a plumber instead.
Plumbers and the associated trades of pipe fitters and steamfitters, who frequently work in commercial and industrial settings, earned median pay of approximately $49,000 a year nationally, well above the $35,000 average for all occupations, according to 2012 data in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent earn more than $84,000 a year. The average in large markets such as Chicago and New York is approximately $70,000. (One caveat: The statistics are gathered from employers subject to paying unemployment insurance, so they don’t include the approximately 11 percent of plumbers that are self-employed.)
The number employed is expected to grow 21 percent by 2022, versus 11 percent over all occupations, based on Labor Bureau figures. Mr. Rosenblum also concludes that plumbers have a fair degree of job security: "No matter how technologically advanced that the world gets, plumbing is going to be sort of a simple requirement," he explained.
Even former Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, a billionaire who knows a few things about earning money, told listeners for his weekly radio show last spring which working as a plumber makes more financial sense for a number of pupils than attending an elite, four-year college: "Being a plumber, actually for the average person, likely would be a much better deal, because you don’t spend four years spending 40, 50 million dollars tuition, and no earnings," he explained.
Requirements vary by state, but prospective plumbers typically spend four to five years as paid apprentices, while also taking classroom instruction in skills such as reading blueprints. Then they must pass a test to get a license. Apprentices typically must be 18 and have a high school degree, or the equivalent, to start training.
They also must have a nice grasp of math, particularly if they’re working on new construction; they may need to calculate, for instance, the volume of liquids that pipes can carry and properly assess the length of pipe necessary for work.
In some cases — such as Mr. Rosenblum’s — the company that hires a prospective plumber sponsors the classroom training.
Approximately 30 percent of pipes and pipe fitters belong to unions, based on unionstats.com, a website which estimates union membership based on federal data. The United Association, together with 300 local affiliates in 50 states, provides training plans and acts as an employment hub, fitting members with jobs in businesses that negotiate contracts with the union.
John Murphy, business manager of United Association Local 1 at nyc, said the local’s 6,000 members worked primarily on major building projects, such as office towers and towers. Union apprentices at Local 1 beginning at $14 an hour and make greater than $50 per hour after completing a five-year apprenticeship and passing a test to advance to journeyman plumber status, Mr. Murphy explained. Experienced plumbers will make $200,000 a year, he said — but that typically means many hours at work. Openings for apprenticeships have a tendency to vary with the economy; if the outlook calls for significant new construction, more openings occur. Local 1 tries to keep its apprentices at roughly 20 per cent of its active membership,” he explained.
The union makes 1,000 applications available about every two years, he explained, and roughly 400 applicants are deemed qualified after taking a simple aptitude test and an assessment of manual dexterity. The union draws from this pool to get new apprentice classes. Additionally, a specific number of apprentices come from "direct entrance " apps, he explained, such as those promoting the hiring of specialists. Over the last 18 months, the neighborhood has approved 275 brand new apprentices.
While historically sons of plumbers often became pipes, household members don’t receive exclusive preference, said Mr. Murphy, a fourth-generation plumber. "My son would have to get on line, together with everyone else. "
Plumbing remains a local plumbing co male-dominated trade; just 1.1 percentage of plumbers and those in associated trades are women, according to 2013 data in the Labor Bureau.
Some union locals have plans to encourage women to become apprentices. The neighborhood has 39 female apprentices, 22 of whom joined in the previous 18 months.
Mr. Rosenblum, who chose the nonunion training route, is a fourth-year apprentice; he also hopes to take the test for his journeyman’s permit at the spring. He graduated from high school in 1998 and afterwards enlisted in the Marine Corps. After completing a nine-month excursion in Iraq and Kuwait in 2004, he moved to California and finished an associate degree under the G.I. charge.
He worked for approximately six years since the director of property services to get an apartment company that managed 5,000 units in Orange County, but moved on to work for a friend who owned a plumbing company. (Under California’s principles, he explained, individual plumbers don’t have to be licensed, as long as they are working to get a licensed plumber.)
He found he enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of plumbing. Most anyone, he said, can learn how to change an angle prevent — the little shut-off valve found under every sink — or replace a flapper in their toilet tank. "But understanding actually how plumbing works and, you know, determining issues and plumbing issues, that’s sort of one of the things that I like to concentrate in," he explained.
About a year ago, he became engaged to a California woman who had household back in his home state, and they chose to move to Arkansas. He researched plumbing companies online and after sending out few applications was hired in Allied Plumbing & Drain Service, a business in Springdale, Ark..
Mr. Rosenblum was taking a small risk; under the principles in Arkansas, his plumbing experience in California wouldn’t necessarily count toward licensing demands. Fortunately, he explained, he had good documentation of three and a half years of work, so state police required that he complete just 1 year of instruction and training to become eligible to take the journeyman’s examination.
After he moves the journeyman’s test and works for an additional year, he’ll be qualified to apply to take the exam to get a master plumber’s license. Meaning he’ll be able to obtain work permits on his own and will be able to train fresh technicians. "At that time, you can essentially do anything a plumber needs to get done," he explained.
Once they pass their journeyman’s test, he said, they are qualified for commissions depending on the price of the assignments they complete, which gives them the chance to earn more money.
A few of his plumbers earn six-figure incomes, he said, but a typical workweek is around 50 hours, along with the jobs are often physically demanding. After four years, his plumbers can make an excellent income so long as they don’t "possess a mind-set of working 8 to 5," he explained.
Mr. Mallory goes out on calls himself because, he says, he enjoys the work. He started working to get a plumber at Oklahoma as a teenager and handed the state’s equivalent of the master test at age 20 — he was advised that he was among the youngest in the nation to pass the test in the time.
He recalls working 100 hours a week, until his program strained his union and forced him to cut back. He afterwards became a home builder, however he explained he returned to plumbing when he had trouble finding enough plumbers to work on the homes he was building. He built Allied into a regional business and employs 15 pipes and apprentices.
His company does new building work and service plumbing, reacting to residential and commercial customers. Doing both assists the business ride out the ups and downs of the economy. "
However , there’s no avoiding the drawbacks, including the potential for encountering raw sewage. Mr. Rosenblum said he wore gloves as far as possible at work and made sure that his immunizations were up-to-date to avoid becoming ill. From time to time, "it’s just horrible," he explained.
And the erratic work hours are another drawback.
But Mr. Rosenblum, that typically gets going with a 5:30 a.m. workout in the gym, says days don’t faze him, and more hours mean more income. In addition, he intends to complete a business degree at a local university to fully prepare for his livelihood.
"In case you’re just a guy that goes in and places on your 40 hours every week, you’re going to make minimal salary," he explained. "But if you put in a little additional time and a little additional work, you’re going to perform well. "
It may (or may not) assist homeowners around the receiving end of pricey plumbing bills that Mr. Rosenblum said he felt bad if toting plumber in your area up the price of a fix, particularly in tough economic times.
"I hate to be the bearer of terrible news when it comes to my customers," he explained, particularly since having water and proper drainage is a must. It’s hard, he said, to present somebody with a charge for $150 or $200, when they may be tight on money. However, "in the close of the afternoon , they called me out, and they need to get it completed," he explained.