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a plumber holding a red pipe wrench Plumbers install plumbing fixtures and appliances, and repair water, waste disposal, drainage, and gas systems in homes and commercial and industrial buildings.  Plumbing fixtures include bathtubs, showers, sinks, and toilets.  Plumbing appliances include dishwashers, waste disposers, and water heaters.

Plumbers who install piping in new construction must be able to work from blueprints and be knowledgeable of state and local building codes.  Often, they must cut holes in wall, ceilings, and floors, or hang steel supports to hold the pipes in place and connect them with fittings.  They regularly use saws, pipe cutters, and pipe-bending machines.  After pipe installation is complete, plumbers install the fixtures and appliances and connect them to the outside water or sewer lines.

Plumbers should be in good physical condition and have good stamina, as they must frequently lift heavy pipes and stand for long periods.  They may also work in cramped positions and sometimes outdoors in inclement weather.  They often work more than 40 hours per week, and may be on call for nights and weekends.

Apprenticeships are the most common way for workers to enter the plumbing field, but some learn the trade in technical schools or community colleges.  Apprenticeship programs are administered jointly by union locals and affiliated companies, or nonunion organizations.  They consist of four to five years of on the job training and a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction per year.  In the classroom, students learn about safety, blueprint reading, mathematics, applied physics and chemistry, and local plumbing codes and regulations.  Most states required plumbers to be licensed by passing an exam after two to five years of on the job experience.  With sufficient experience, plumbers may advance to supervisory positions, go into business for themselves, or move into a related field such as building inspection or construction management.

The plumbing industry is expected to experience faster than average job growth, and opportunities will be very good.  Please visit the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association website for more information about the work of plumbers.

Plumbing Contractors in each State and the District of Columbia


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About Plumbers' Job Responsibilities, Educational Requirements, and Working Conditions