Plumbing is an essential trade that plays a crucial role in the functioning of our daily lives. Additionally, plumbers install, repair, and maintain various systems that provide clean water, proper sanitation, and efficient heating. Moreover, they address emergencies promptly, such as leaks or clogged drains. Overall, plumbers’ skills and knowledge are indispensable for maintaining comfort and well-being.

With the growing demand for plumbing services, the profession has become an attractive career choice for 126,929 people. One of the key factors to consider in a career is the earning potential, and plumbing is no exception.

In this ultimate guide to plumber salaries, we’ll explore the various aspects of plumber salaries including factors that impact salaries and how to maximize earning potential.

Understanding Plumber Salaries

Understanding plumber salaries is essential for aspiring plumbers and those already established in the field. Plumbers play a vital role in maintaining and repairing plumbing systems, ensuring proper water flow, drainage, and overall functionality.

When considering a career as a plumber or negotiating plumber salaries, you need a comprehensive understanding of the factors that influence earning potential. These include qualification, experience, market demand, industry, and specialization.

Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master Plumber Salaries

The plumbing career progresses from an apprentice, and journeyman, to a master plumber. Each comes with its responsibilities and corresponding earning potential.

The average annual apprentice plumber salaries in the USA were $46,813 by May 2023 according to Glassdoor. After completion of an apprenticeship program and obtaining a plumbing license, you become a journeyman plumber.

The average annual journeyman plumber salaries by May 2023 were $65,448.

A master plumber is an experienced professional with advanced knowledge and expertise in the field.  The extensive skill set and added responsibilities of managing a business or projects lead to higher plumber pay.

The master plumber’s salary was an average of $100, 768 per year. Top earners were in the 90th percentile making $100,000 across the country. The median plumber’s salary is $59,880 but varies by experience.

Entry-level plumbers earn $36,700 and the more experienced walk away with up to $59,880.

Overview Of The Different Types Of Plumbers And Their Expected Salaries

In the plumbing industry, there are various types of plumbers with specialized skills and responsibilities. Each commands a different level of expertise and corresponding average plumber salary.

Here’s an overview of the different types of plumbers and their expected salaries.

Type of plumberExpected salary per year
Commercial plumber$52,221
Service and repair plumber$59,062
Residential plumber$67,841
Plumbing foreman$55,000
Plumbing engineer$73,000

Factors That Can Affect Salaries, Such As Experience, Location, and Certification

Here’s a detailed look at the factors that affect the salaries of plumbers.

  • Experience – more on-job experience leads to advanced skills and expertise hence the demand for a higher salary.
  • Geographical location – salaries are higher in areas with a shortage of plumbers. Cities experience rapid construction projects and growth, demand more plumbers and pay higher salaries.
  • Certification and specialization – possession of certification or specialized skills often commands higher salaries. You can get certified to handle backflow prevention, gas fitting, or green plumbing.
  • Additional skills and training – having extra skills beyond the standard can lead to a high plumber annual salary. This requires keeping up-to-date with the latest in the plumbing industry.
  • Union affiliation – trade unions negotiate salaries and benefits on behalf of their members. Union plumbers enjoy higher wages, standardized benefits, and job security.
  • Company size – established and reputable companies offer a more competitive compensation package to attract and retain the best plumbers.

Average Plumber Salary Ranges And How They Can Vary By State And Region

The average plumber job salary varies by state and within regions. Several factors contribute to this such as demand for skilled plumbers, high costs of living, and economic conditions.

For example, states such as New York with high costs of living pay higher plumber salaries to match the increasing expenses residents face. Metropolitan areas within the state have construction projects and infrastructure projects that determine plumber salaries.

Here are the top 10 states that pay plumbers

New Jersey$71,447

Union Membership and Its Impact On Salaries

Joining a union has a significant impact on plumber salaries.

Here’s how.

Collective Bargaining Power

Unions offer plumbers collective bargaining power to negotiate higher wages, better benefits, and improved working conditions. Plumbers can join a trade union such as the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA). This leverages numbers to negotiate favorable compensation packages for its members.

Standardized Wages

Unions often establish standardized wages for different plumbing skills so members get fair and equitable compensation based on their skills, experience, and qualification. A standardized union plumber wage offers stability and consistency and reduces pay disparities.

Wage Increases

Trade unions negotiate wage increases on behalf of their members over time. They secure regular raises whether annually or as stipulated in the collective bargaining power agreement. The increases lead to higher salary growth compared to their non-unionized counterparts.

Comprehensive Packages And Job Security

Unions advocate comprehensive benefits packages beyond wages. These may include healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and paid time off. Access to such benefits enhances the members’ overall compensation package and improves their financial well-being.

Training And Professional Development

Members of a union enjoy training and professional development to acquire more skills that make them more valuable and marketable in the industry. Possession of enhanced skills comes with chances of higher-paying opportunities and increased plumber pay per hour.

Commercial Vs. Residential Plumbing And Salary Differences

Commercial plumbing involves working on plumbing systems in non-residential settings, such as shopping centers, schools, and industrial facilities. Unlike residential plumbing, which focuses on individual homes, commercial plumbers tackle large and complex projects. They are responsible for handling extensive pipe works, managing water supply systems, and ensuring efficient drainage systems in commercial establishments.

Becoming a commercial plumber requires a deeper understanding of codes, regulations, and safety protocols.

Residential plumbing focuses on homes and small-scale buildings. The tasks may include fixing leaks, clogs, and pipe repairs. Residential plumbers handle less complex systems but offer an essential service of maintaining plumbing infrastructure in households.

But, who makes the most money?

Many commercial plumbers report earning more than their residential counterparts. The ability to earn more comes from having a diverse skill set and extensive experience. However, the plumber’s salary per hour can vary depending on various factors.

Commercial projects often involve higher budgets and longer time frames hence the higher pay. Although you can specialize in one area, you can also handle a mix of commercial and residential projects to expand your earning potential.

According to ZipRecruiter, the median commercial plumber salary per year was $52,221 by May 2023. A residential plumber was earning $67,841 annually. Residential plumbers have chances of better pay if they can get steady work in locations with extensive housing construction and renovation work.

Maximizing Your Plumber Salary Potential

You need to understand a combination of factors to enhance your earning potential as a plumber.

What are these?

Continuous Skill Development

Stay updated with the latest in industry technologies, trends, and techniques. Invest in ongoing training and certification to expand your skill set. This will increase your value as a plumber. Acquisition of specialized skills such as backflow prevention, gas fitting, and green plumbing can make you more marketable to command a higher licensed plumber salary.

Gain Experience And Expertise

Seek opportunities to work on diverse projects. This will make you gain hands-on experience in different areas of plumbing. After accumulating experience, you’ll become more proficient in handling complex tasks. This leads to higher-paying job opportunities.

You can consider working under an apprenticeship program or working under a master plumber. This will accelerate your learning and build a solid foundation for your career.

Specialize In A Niche Area

Develop expertise in a particular niche such as commercial plumbing, new construction projects, and industrial systems. This will set you apart from other plumbers which opens doors to higher salaries.

Gaining expertise requires additional training and certification. However, they increase the chances of more lucrative opportunities and increased earning potential.

Solve Market Problems

Do market research and identify problem areas where you can provide solutions. Look for areas where there’s a lot of construction activity or infrastructure development. Being aware of market problems allows marketing to people who badly need solutions and can pay top dollar.

Build A Strong Professional Network

Networking within the plumbing industry offers valuable connections and access to new opportunities. Attend industry conferences, join professional organizations, and engage with fellow plumbers and experts.

Some industry associations for plumbers are:

  • American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE)
  • Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association.
  • National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)

Creating a good working relationship with key players and stakeholders in the industry can generate referrals that lead to higher income.

Join a union

We already realized how union membership impacts a plumber technician’s salary. You’ll benefit from collective bargaining power, standardized wages, and comprehensive benefits packages. Apart from enhancing your earning potential, it also contributes to providing job security.

Negotiating and Finding The Right Job

Knowing how to negotiate and find the right job can be challenging but a rewarding process for any plumber. It requires a combination of research, effective communication skills, and a clear understanding of your goals and expectations.

Conduct research on various plumbing companies and job opportunities to identify reputable organizations and positions that align with your skills and interests. You can do this by exploring online job portals, networking with industry professionals, and seeking recommendations from trusted sources.

After identifying potential job opportunities, effective negotiation skills come in. Negotiation involves discussing aspects such as salary, benefits, work schedule, and career growth prospects.

Clearly articulate your qualification, experience, and the value you bring to the organization. Finding the right plumbing job requires a mix of persistence, adaptability, and a willingness to explore opportunities until you find the perfect one.

Tips For Job Seekers To Find High-Paying Plumbing Jobs

Here are some tips for job seekers to find jobs that pay plumbers more.

  • Acquire specialized skills
  • Build a strong professional network
  • Create a portfolio highlighting complex projects you completed successfully
  • Be active on online platforms
  • Reach out to companies directly
  • Demonstrate professionalism to make a great first impression

Strategies For Negotiating A Plumber Salary With Potential Employers

When negotiating a plumber’s yearly salary with a potential employer, there are several strategies you can use to increase the chances of getting favorable compensation. Research the current salary range for plumbers in your area to ensure your salary expectation is reasonable and competitive.

Clearly communicate what value you bring to the table. Emphasize the experience, skills, certifications, and specialized training you undertook. Understand the particular needs of the potential employer and demonstrate how your skills and expertise can contribute to the company’s success.

Consider other aspects of the compensation package apart from salary. Remain flexible throughout the negotiations and negotiate face-to-face. A mutually beneficial outcome will make every party feel satisfied with the final agreement.

Alternative Career Paths For Plumbers

Plumbing is a skilled trade that offers a range of alternative career options beyond the traditional role of a plumber. Alternative paths allow plumbers to utilize their skills and knowledge in different ways. While still capitalizing on their expertise in the plumbing industry.

Exploring Alternative Career Paths For Plumbers, Such As Becoming A Plumbing Technician Or Foreman

Here are a few alternative career options you can explore within the plumbing industry.

  • Plumbing technician
  • Plumbing foreman/supervisor
  • Plumbing inspector
  • Plumbing estimator
  • Plumbing sales representative
  • Plumbing instructor/trainer

Salary Expectations And Job Duties For Alternative Career Paths

Here is an overview of the alternative career options for an employee in the plumbing industry with salary expectations and job duties.

Alternative Career PathExpected SalaryJob Duties
Plumbing technician$54,087Installations, maintenance, and repair
Plumbing foreman/supervisor$81,868Coordinates projects to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
Plumbing inspector$58,498Works for government or private agencies to ensure meeting building codes and regulations.
Plumbing estimator$74,517Assesses projects, prepares cost estimates, and creates proposals for plumbing projects.
Plumbing sales representative$64,087Promotes plumbing products, builds relations with clients, and generates sales.
Plumbing instructor/trainer$58,978Contributes to the development of the industry and mentors future plumbers.

Apart from regular pay, the plumbing technician’s salary may be determined by factors such as receiving benefits and overtime pay, especially for emergency work or on-call situations. The apprentice plumber’s wage is usually about 30 to 50 percent of that of a journeyman but gradually increases as they gain experience.

The level of seniority in the field makes a plumbing foreman’s salary higher compared to other plumbing positions.

Final Thoughts On Maximizing Plumber Salaries And Career Potential

Maximizing plumber salaries and career potential requires a proactive and multifaceted approach. Constantly learning and staying updated with industry trends, and specializing in a niche while maintaining diverse skills are crucial elements.

Networking and forming partnerships within the industry can also open doors to new opportunities. Embracing free plumbing software for scheduling such as Field Complete can streamline operations and boost productivity.

Implementing these strategies and continuously striving for excellence maximizes earning potential for plumbers and allows building a successful and fulfilling career