Work environment of a plumber

The previous post briefly profiled the three main work environments for plumbers in the building construction industry: residential, commercial, and industrial. These may be the most common job opportunities for plumbers, but the construction industry is not the only employer for skilled workers in this trade. In fact, more than one-third of plumbers work outside the construction industry. Here we will look at some additional job opportunities you might want to consider.

Natural Gas Distribution

The natural gas distribution industry employs more than 5000 plumbers, at wages higher than many areas of the construction industry (more than $55,000 on average). Natural gas travels through pipes and systems similar to those used for water. Many plumbers also work on medical gas systems.

Ship and Boat Building

Many types of ships and boats require plumbing, from yachts and other personal boats to barges and cargo ships. For example, a cruise ship is essentially a floating hotel and resort, with staterooms, restaurant kitchens, swimming pools, and other facilities that require water lines. The ship and boat building industry currently employs nearly 6000 plumbers.

Utility System Construction

The utility system construction industry is responsible for designing and constructing the main utility lines (i.e., water, gas, power, and so on) that distribute these services to buildings. Plumbers who work in this industry specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing the main plumbing distribution system rather than systems in individual buildings.

Local Governments

Municipal governments employ more than 12,000 plumbers across the United States. These workers may perform standard plumbing tasks at government job sites, or they may be involved in inspecting construction sites to make sure they are conforming to the newest building codes and standards.

Trade and Technical Schools

Trade and technical schools employ licensed plumbers to provide education and training to the next generation of tradespeople. Most plumbers spend many years on the job, gaining plenty of experience, before they decide to become plumbing instructors. As a beginning plumbing student, a job as an instructor might seem pretty far down the road, but it is something to keep in mind as you plan the course of your career.

Finally, some of the most lucrative jobs in plumbing are in specialty industries including electric power generation, transmission, and distribution (plumbers in this industry make an average of $68,000 a year) and navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing (this is the highest-paying industry for plumbers, who make about $73,000 per year). However, plumbing jobs in these industries are pretty rare and are generally filled by the top experts in the trade.

As you can see from these two posts, skilled plumbers are in high demand in a variety of work environments. Getting your plumbing education today will put you in position to take advantage of these opportunities in the future.


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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