The following information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters. Please visit the website for a more comprehensive breakdown of the data.


Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair piping fixtures and systems.

Job Duties

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
  • Read blueprints and follow state and local building codes
  • Determine the materials and equipment needed for a job
  • Install pipes and fixtures
  • Inspect and test installed pipe systems and pipelines
  • Troubleshoot malfunctioning systems
  • Maintain and repair plumbing systems


National Average Annual Pay (2019): $59,800

Top 5 States

1. Illinois


2. Alaska


3. Minnesota


4. New Jersey


5. Massachusetts


Bottom 5 States

50. Arkansas


49. South Dakota


48. North Carolina


47. Florida


46. New Mexico



Most states require plumbers to be licensed. Ultimately you will need experience and training to get licensed and there are a couple ways to do that.

The first is through a trade program. Some programs have specialized plumbing programs while others include it as a skill taught in a construction or general maintenance course. Usually this is just an introduction into the field and you will still need to gain more experience.

The second and most common way is through a plumbing apprenticeship. An apprenticeship can take 2-5 years to complete and will provide you with enough training and experience to get licensed. To find apprenticeship programs in your area, contact local unions and trade associations.

To become a journey-level worker, you will need to have 2-5 years of experience and pass an exam. As a journey worker, you can work independently as a plumber.

After several years of experience as a journey worker, you can take another exam to earn master status. One of the benefits of becoming a master plumber is that this status is required in some states in order to obtain a plumbing contractor’s license.

  • Option 1: Learn the Skills at a Trade School

    Some trade schools focus solely on plumbing while others have plumbing included in other courses such as construction or general maintenance and repair.

  • Option 2: Learn the Skills with an Apprenticeship

    A plumbing apprenticeship takes anywhere from 2 to 5 years.

  • Pass Required Licensing Exam

  • Become a Journey-Level Plumber

  • Advance Career: Master Plumber

    You will need to pass another exam to gain master status. This status is necessary in some states in order to obtain a plumbing contractor’s license.



Plumbers must be able to maneuver parts and tools precisely, often in tight spaces.

Physical Strength

Plumbers must be able to lift and move heavy tools and materials.

Communication Skills

Plumbers must be able to direct workers, bid on jobs, and plan work schedules. Plumbers also talk to customers regularly.

Troubleshooting Skills

Plumbers find, diagnose, and repair problems. They also help with setting up and testing new plumbing and piping systems.

Mechanical Skills

Plumbers choose from a variety of tools to assemble, maintain, and repair pipe systems.

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