Plumbers are responsible for installing and repairing plumbing pipes and fixtures in new construction like homes, commercial businesses, and industrial buildings. They may also inspect, test, and troubleshoot plumbing systems. Master plumbers may even participate in the design of plumbing systems for new buildings. Most plumbers work full time, which may include nights and weekends if they have to deal with emergencies. If you are interested in the plumbing trade, now is an excellent time to consider enrolling in a technical school and exploring your options for an apprenticeship. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the demand for qualified plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters to increase faster than average, with more than 82,000 new jobs opening up through 2022. Many of these jobs will focus on improving water efficiency to help buildings conform to new standards. There is also expected to be an uptick in the construction of factories and power plants. Finally, a large number of plumbers are expected to retire over the next decade, meaning there will be more jobs available. The plumbing trade has a complex relationship with the economy. When the economy is good, new construction booms and there is plenty of work to go around. But when the economy is bad, there is less new construction, so plumbers may have a hard time finding work on construction sites. However, bad economic times also means that people are more interested in repairing and maintaining what they’ve got, so plumbers can often find even more maintenance and repair work than when the economy is soaring. In general, plumbers who work in manufacturing and maintenance, rather than construction, are better able to find work regardless of fluctuations in the economy. And those with welding experience have even better prospects. Plumbing is also a lucrative trade—one of the highest in the construction industry—partly because most plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters belong to a union, such as the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada. The median wage for workers in this trade is just about $50,000, with the top earners clearing close to $85,000. Over the next several years, all trades in the construction industry are expected to grow because an improving economy will mean more new construction. In addition, the introduction of stricter standards for things like water efficiency will continue to provide plenty of work for qualified, experienced plumbers. Most plumbers learn via an apprenticeship program, and many also attend a plumbing program at a technical school. In most states, plumbers are required to be licensed. If you are interested in a career in plumbing, start by researching the requirements and training options in your state. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Occupational Outlook Handbook.