Work environment of a plumber

Work environments for plumbers, Part 1

The main tasks for plumbers are installing, repairing, and maintaining plumbing systems, including both pipes and fixtures. But even though the main tasks are the same, within the trade there are a variety of different work environments. In a series of two posts, we’ll explore these three main work environments, as well as a few less common, but highly lucrative industries that employ plumbers.

By far, the industry that employs the most plumbers is the building equipment contractor industry. Nearly two-thirds of plumbers currently employed in the United States work in this industry. The building equipment contractor industry includes everything from the architectures and engineers who design homes and other buildings to the tradespeople, like plumbers, who actually build them. Within this industry, there are three primary work environments for plumbers: residential, commercial, and industrial.

Residential Plumbing

Plumbers who work in residential environments install and repair the water lines and pipes that provide service to homes. This may include everything from maintaining septic systems in rural areas to installing water lines for faucets, taps, and refrigerators, to installing actual plumbing fixtures like bathtubs and toilets. Residential plumbers are also often called upon in emergency situations, like water line breaks, that affect houses and apartments. It generally takes only one or two plumbers to do all of the plumbing work for a house.

Commercial Plumbing

Commercial plumbing services are similar to residential plumbing services, but since they are for businesses, the projects are often on a larger scale. For example, think about the plumbing system necessary to run a restaurant, with the various kitchen appliances and bathroom facilities, or the system required for a hotel, which can include everything from the bathrooms in the individual hotel rooms to an indoor swimming pool. Plumbers in commercial settings may also install and repair boilers and sewer lines. Unless the place of business is small, most commercial construction projects will employ a team of plumbers.

Industrial Plumbing

Industrial plumbing services take place on an even larger scale than commercial services. Plumbers who work in these settings install and repair pipes and systems in manufacturing plants. Depending on the type of factory, plumbers in these environments may do everything from install pipes for restroom facilities to maintain built-in power washing equipment. For large industrial facilities, an entire crew of plumbers may required in the construction phase.

As you can see, even in new building construction, plumbers can work in a variety of different environments. Residential, commercial, and industrial construction are the top sources of plumbing jobs, and workers in these environments make an average of $55,000 per year. In the next post, we’ll explore some less well-known work environments for plumbers, some of which are even more lucrative.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Occupational Outlook Handbook.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Occupational Employment Statistics.



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