How Much Do Plumbers Make?

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Plumber Salary Guide: How Much Do Plumbers Make?

If you’re looking for a promising, secure future and enjoy working with your hands, consider a career in plumbing. Some people hold the misconception that plumbing is not a lucrative field. A plumber salary looks modest initially, but a plumbing career has room for growth and requires little schooling and debt to start.

Plumber Salary: What do plumbers make a year?

Though plumber salaries vary, on average a plumber makes an average base salary of $55,000 per year. This number varies on location, education level, and years of experience. Plumbers can often earn additional salary by working overtime, and many enjoy the benefits of being in a plumbing union.

As a plumber’s career progresses, their salary will increase. Journeyman plumbers earn more than apprentices or entry level plumbers, and master plumbers usually earn the most. Read on to see their respective salaries.

How Much Do Plumbers Earn an Hour?

Plumbers can expect to earn $24.25 an hour plus overtime early in their careers. Like plumbing salaries, the hourly wage of a plumber increases with more experience and education.

If you’re a plumbing contractor, you still receive overtime pay when you receive a call after hours and have to do a job in the evening or on the weekend. In that case, you can charge more for after-hours work.

Plumber Salary By State

StateAverage Plumber Salary
District of Columbia$71,800
New Hampshire$53,150
New Jersey$67,820
New Mexico$44,260
New York$65,970
North Carolina$44,170
North Dakota$55,140
Rhode Island$50,200
South Carolina$46,240
South Dakota$41,100
West Virginia$51,380
Source: Faraday

Plumbing Salaries Vary Based on Location

Your location determines how much you make as a plumber as well. You need to factor in both the amount a plumber makes where you live as well as your own cost of living when you’re figuring out if you want to dive into a career as a plumber. 

For example, in Denver, Colorado, plumbers make $77,000 a year. In Brooklyn, New York, you can hope for $63,000, and in San Diego, California, you can expect around $56,000 a year. 

When you factor in the cost of living for your location, you’ll see how plumbing makes more sense financially in some areas than it does in others. 

Take Brooklyn, New York, for example. Let’s compare a plumber in Jersey City, NJ, next to Brooklyn, to a plumber in Brooklyn. 

In Jersey City, NJ, a plumber makes $61,572 a year and $6,750 a year in overtime compared to Brooklyn where a plumber makes $63,000 and approximately the same in overtime. The two salaries look comparable. But look at the cost of living.

The cost of living in Jersey City, NJ is significantly less than in Brooklyn. If you’re a homeowner with no childcare and taxes not considered, your cost of living is 26.9 percent less in Jersey City, NJ. Food and groceries are 8.4 percent less, housing is 36.6 percent less, and your median home cost is 36.6 percent less. 

If you look at just salaries and not overtime, a Brooklyn plumber makes roughly $2,000 more than a Jersey City plumber. That’s a 3 percent difference in salaries, and yet the cost of living is anywhere from 8.4 percent to 36.6 percent different from Jersey City to Brooklyn.

So even though you’re making more money in Brooklyn, you’re spending much more money to live there. How much a plumber makes depends heavily on where he works but also where he lives. 

Entry Level Plumber Salary

Your plumbing salary depends on experience in the field. The first level of plumbing will be an entry level job or plumbing apprenticeship. You usually make around $16.41 an hour or $35,000 a year as an apprentice, while an entry level plumbers earn around $20 per hour or $40,000 a year.

As an apprentice, you work under a licensed plumber for a few years and then move up to the journeyman level. Apprentice plumbers do not make as much as entry level roles because they are basically in school, learning and working from their mentor plumber.

Journeyman Plumber Salary

An apprentice or entry level plumber will eventually move onto journeyman and master plumber status. The average journeyman plumber makes $24 an hour, or $60,000 a year. 

A journeyman has moved through the apprenticeship position, which takes two to five years. He has received his licensing credentials of the state and can work on his own now.

He will perform preventive maintenance and install systems according to blueprints and technical docs. He also will oversee apprentice plumbers. If a journeyman has an apprentice with him, he has the task of both plumbing and teaching.

In addition to overseeing an apprentice, the journeyman can install and repair systems. They can locate and repair leaks in pipes and perform preventative maintenance. 

Master Plumber Salary

A master plumber makes $30 an hour and often work more than 40 hours a week. They’re eligible for overtime of 10 to 20 hours a week. Rising to master plumber status takes six to ten years and requires taking and passing a state exam.

Master plumbers do more than read blueprints. They have all the tools necessary to maintain, service, install, and repair water systems. They work on drains, potable water, waste systems, and gas systems. Master plumbers also install appliances and bathroom fixtures.

Often a master plumber has the freedom of self-employment. Some enjoy the job security of working for contractors or government entities. Most belong to a union that protects their rights as blue-collar workers. 

Because of their expertise, master plumbers often see their work fluctuate. They can work on anything from unclogging a drain to planning a new water system for a home. Their experience, formal schooling, and state licensure mean they know more than an apprentice and journeyman and thus can charge more. 

Costs Associated with Paying a Plumber’s Salary

When you answer the question “what is the salary for a plumber,” you need to take the long view. Take time to figure out the cost of education and the amount of time you can work as a plumber. You can better understand a plumber salary guide and see that plumbers make a good living. 

Schooling Costs

To become a plumber, one can attend a plumbing school to get started. The cost of an associate’s degree for plumbing range from $1,000 to $20,000 depending on where you obtain your degree. Plumbing apprentices, however, are paid as regular employees as they learn on the job.

Best of all, if you go the route of an apprentice, you’re making an apprentice salary right away, so you’re earning while you go to school. Most often people will go the route of a community college or technical school because the cost is less and the training is intense and specific. 

Tool Costs

You also have to figure in the cost of plumbing tools. Apprentices have to pay for their tools from the start. You should anticipate paying $300 to $400 for quality starter tools. 

The result is little debt for schooling and the opportunity to make money right away as a plumber. So plumbers from the start are earning that minimum of $15 an hour with little schooling debt to worry about. 

Job Outlook for Plumbers 

If you crunch the numbers, a plumber could make more money throughout a lifetime than even a doctor. When you factor in the ability to work right away, the low cost of school, and the investment opportunities early on, plumbing is a great occupation for a lifetime.

When you figure out how much plumbers make, you should consider the outlook over the long haul. If you’re considering a career in plumbing, look at what you can make from the time you’re 22 to the time you’re 65.  

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the job outlook for plumbers is good. They anticipate a 14 percent growth in the need for plumbers from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average growth rate. 

The world will always need plumbers. As buildings grow old, they need plumbers to repair them. As new structures go up, they need plumbers to install proper plumbing.  

Plumb a Line, Save the World

Not all heroes wear capes. A plumber is a hero in coveralls, willing and able to do a hard, sometimes loathsome job that keeps businesses and homes running. A plumber salary reflects this hard work and is something a plumber should be proud of. 

If you’re looking for a plumbing job in your area, contact us. We’d love to hook you up with the jobs in your neck of the woods.