Plumber Salary – How Much Do Plumbers Make?
The question can be asked many ways: What is the average plumber salary? How much does a plumber make? How much is a Master Plumber salary? In short, is a plumbing salary worth the time and effort that it will take to complete years of plumbing courses and become a plumber?
What Determines How Much a Plumber Can Earn?
How much you can earn working as a plumber depends on many factors. Variables that determine pay include your plumbing school education, where you work, your level (apprentice, journeyman, or master plumber), years of experience, the type of work you do, and the kind of employer you work for.
At the beginning of their career while taking plumbing classes, an apprentice may earn $15,000-$20,000 in the first few years. In contrast, an experienced Master Plumber could earn more than $200,000 at the higher end of the scale. The path you take in your plumbing career will depend on your personal objectives. The good news is that there is a wide variety of plumbing work available and the pay is generally quite attractive.
Apprentice Plumber Salary
- Pay varies greatly, but generally starts between $13,000 – $25,000.
As an apprentice, while you obviously need to earn enough to pay your bills, you shouldn’t be too focused on your salary. Your goal is simply to get your plumbing education, master the skills of the trade and advance to the point where you are a Journeyman and have gotten your plumbing license. You will then have a lot more flexibility in your work as well as increased pay.
While you are an apprentice, you are getting paid to learn on the job. Your employer is paying you a salary AND investing a lot of time and money training you. Their cost of your training includes paying for the plumbing courses you are taking in school. This is a great deal for the apprentice.
Journeyman Plumber Salary
- Pay varies greatly, but generally starts between $25,000 – $40,000.
Once the level of Journeyman has been achieved and with a few years of experience proving your abilities at that level, you should be earning around the average plumber salary for your area (see the blue text below for a link to salary information by State).
The Government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the national average salary for all Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters is almost $50,000.
Master Plumber Salary
- Pay varies greatly, therefore cannot give a “normal” salary.
Everyone will set their own goals regarding how far up the plumbing career ladder they would like to climb and how much plumbing education they would like to achieve. Many, probably most, will be happy as Journeyman plumbers. Some, however, will decide to push even further and tackle the challenge of becoming a Master Plumber. Those that do will have the most autonomy in their work (compared to Apprentices and Journeyman) and the highest earnings potential. Some will earn a Master Plumber salary well in excess of $100,000.
Employment Outlook for a Plumbing Career
There were 420,000 people in the United States in 2010 working as plumbers, pipefitters or steamfitters. This number is projected to grow by 26% to 528,000 by the year 2020, which is an increase of 108,000 plumber jobs. To increase the number of plumbers by 108,000 over ten years, roughly 11,000 new plumbers need to be hired and trained every year just to meet the expected growth. In addition, over 10,000 new plumbers are needed every year to replace people who are retiring.
- In total, the BLS projects that more than 21,000 new plumbers need to be hired and trained every year through 2020!
In comparison, the projected growth for electricians is 23%, carpenters is 20%, and the average growth rate for all occupations is only 14%.
Another factor that should be considered is plumber pay. Plumber salaries are discussed above, but note that the median pay in 2010 for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters was $47,000, which is $22.43 per hour (note: the average pay is slightly higher than the median). In comparison, electricians earned almost the same at $48,000 and carpenters earned $40,000.
Therefore, we conclude that the plumbing career outlook is good since a) there is above average demand for new plumbers in coming years, and b) plumber pay is as good as or better than other similar careers.
- How to choose plumbing courses and a professional plumbing school
- How to become a plumber, include the role of the plumbing apprenticeship in starting your career
- State specific plumbing license requirements
Good luck in your quest to become a plumber. We hope this plumber salary data and employment outlook has been helpful and inspiring!