Plumbing Courses and Career Center

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Carpentry Career vs. Plumbing Career – How to Choose

Become a Carpenter?

So you’re pretty handy with some tools. You have worked on your car and done some other renovation projects around your home and apartment; maybe you have even done a bigger project yourself or lent someone a hand on their construction project. You are very interested in getting some steady, good paying employment. You have narrowed your decision down to doing one of the skilled trades of carpentry or plumbing. So how exactly do you make the final decision between the two? A good way to start is by taking a look at some relevant facts about each.

Let’s first look at the educational level and other entry level requirements for carpenter jobs and plumber jobs. The requirements to enter into the professions of plumbing and carpentry are remarkably similar. Each job requires you to finish an apprenticeship before you can become professionally certified and/or licensed. The basic minimal educational requirement for a carpentry career (or plumbing) to enable you to enter into an apprenticeship is a high school diploma. Apprenticeships usually take three to four years to complete and require a combination of 144 hours of classroom work and 2000 hours of on the job training each year. Once you complete your plumbing or carpentry apprenticeship you can then take a test to be a licensed professional; if you pass the license test you are free to go out and work on your own. To go to work for big companies or contractors in either field may also require you to join a union; the union may have additional training requirements of their own before they will represent you.

We will next look at the outlook for each job based on research that was done by the US Department of Labor using figures from 2012.

  • National Average

The national averages for all jobs combined in America.

  • Median Income – $34,750**
  • 10 Year Job Growth Outlook – 11%

** This income figure is greatly skewed by the top 10% of earners in the country, it is probably $5000 – $10,000 less if you eliminate them**

  • Carpenter salary
    • Median Income – $39,940
    • Bottom 10% Income – $24,880
    • Top 10% Income – $72,580
    • 10 Year Job Growth Outlook – 24%
  • Plumber income
    • Median Income – $49,140
    • Bottom 10% Income – $29, 020
    • Top 10% Income – $84,440
    • 10 Year Job Growth Outlook – 25%

Carpentry work requires more physical stamina on average than does plumbing work, and carpenters are often exposed to the elements (sun, snow, rain, etc…) Carpenters mostly work on a set schedule and only work overtime and weekends occasionally. There is less opportunity for advanced pay through specialization in a carpentry career.

Plumbers have much more potential to earn a higher wage than carpenters. In addition, there are several specialized fields in plumbing which can increase these figures even more. Depending on the type of plumbing job you get, plumbers may work odd hours, weekends, and holidays due to the often emergency nature of their field, being on call a few times a month should be expected.

With their projected job growth outlooks and income earning potential, there really is not a bad choice to be made here between the two. The decision should probably come down to which one you think you will enjoy the most and if the varied hours a plumber works are worth the higher earning potential.

Other Information:



United States Department of Labor. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved June 13, 2014 from