The Salaries for Plumbing

Written by wilhelm schnotz
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The Salaries for Plumbing
Self-employed plumbers usually earn more than employees. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Because of its major role in sanitation, plumbing isn't an area where most home and business owners seek to save money. A backed up sink needs to be fixed regardless of how well the economy is performing. Although some plumbers, particularly pipefitters, are directly affected by the health of the construction industry, the industry's role in sanitation provides the profession with a buffer against economic downturns. As with other skilled trades, plumbers may expect to make a respectable salary, particularly those with more advanced licensing.

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Average Salary

Approximately 358,790 plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters worked in the United States as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning an average hourly wage of £15.7, or about £32,734 for plumbers who worked a standard 40-hour workweek. Wages in the trade range widely, however, and the 50 per cent of plumbers with average earnings made between £22,821 and £40,859 annually. The best paid 10 per cent in the industry made at least £51,948 annually.

Earnings By Skill Level

In most states, plumbing licenses are provided in the traditional tradesman levels of apprentice, journeyman and master plumber, and salaries tend to increase with the more experience and more advanced license type a plumber acquires. Journeyman plumbers -- the most common, career level plumbers -- earned an average annual salary of £31,200 as of May 2011, according to Indeed.com. Apprentice plumbers, newcomers to the industry who are still learning the craft, usually earn about half the wages of journeymen in their area. Master plumbers' average annual salaries varied around the country, ranging between £20,996 and £40,891, according to Salary Expert.

High Paying Cities

The combination of a high demand for plumbers and a high cost of living can drive up plumbers' salaries in some areas. Plumbers in Peabody, Mass., earn the highest average annual salaries in the country, making £49,829 according to the Bureau. San Jose, Calif., Leominster, Mass., Madison, Wis., and Lake County-Kenosha, Ill., also reported some of the highest average salaries for plumbers in the nation.

Salaries by Plumber Type

Plumbing is a large industry, with many types of workers involved in it, so parsing out average salaries for specific types of workers and working conditions can be difficult. Journeymen plumbers in areas such as New York, Boston and Chicago who manage their own businesses may earn up to £162,500 a year as of 2008, according to Time magazine. Plumbers who own their own business tend to earn more than employees, while earnings for pipefitters and steamfitters may be lower than other types of plumbers.

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