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Question for plumbers

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  • Question for plumbers

    I have been doing some research online and I have my eye on plumbing, it looks like a diverse field with good pay, legit demand, and the possibility of doing it in just about any country.

    How did you get to your position? Would you recommend it to others who dont know what they want to do with their lives? Is the job as dangerous as the injury thread says? Should I let the danger factor scare me away from possibly persuing the trade as a career?

    Im fairly young and I felt the internet would be a good place for the time being to ask.

  • #2
    I live in Vancouver, BC, Canada,

    Generally speaking I'm told, and I've seen it/heard it from people first hand, that a Canadian Plumbing ticket is good just about anywhere as we have a very high plumbing standards (due to environmental factors in Canada). I've met lots of guys through school who do some jobs for their companies down in the states and they say they're looked up to down there in some respects becuase of their skills. We are currently expieriencing a trades boom in British Columbia and there is a skilled trades people shortage due to people retiring and the general perception in our highschools of pushing people towards university. Hey I'm not complaining, I'll just be making more money soon.

    How I got into plumbing was I registered for a pre-apprenticeship course. The course I took was called "Piping Entry Level Trades training," at the local trades school and gave you 1st year credit for 4 trades (gasfitting, steamfitting, plumbing & sprinklerfitting). On top of that it also gave you lots of shop expierience doing projects and the like. Yeah not real world work, but you do develop some skills safely and effectively. I don't know if you guys might have something similar to that South of the border, but it was a 30 week course and I got out in 23 weeks because I was that far ahead in my projects, etc. I was hired right out of school as a 1st year apprentice. One of my instructors basically gave me the phone # of a company who needed a guy. It's been great ever since. I've been in the trade, including school, for roughly a year and 8 monthes. The company I work for does mainly relativey large sized 4 story condo projects currently, and I work with a really good crew, who are mostly guys around my age (25) and enthusiastic., etc.

    Now when I show up to work, do my job, etc, I see all the other trades working at the same time. I see Electricians, Carpenters, Finishing carpenters, Painters, Sprinklerfitters, Drywallers, etc. So I kinda get to see what their jobs entail as I do mine. And I gotta be honest that I don't think there is a trade I would rather do than plumbing. I know I picked the right trade. It's a trade that is sort of prestigious in one sense because Plumbers aren't super numerous, but you're also not endangered either, as far as numbers of plumbers out there. You have a specialized trade, and you can tell a lot of the other trades are interesting in what you're doing. Also a lot of the job revolves around your work because a building without plumbing, quite frankly isn't a building.

    Is plumbing dangerous? Yeah there are horror stories. Me personally, well I've gotten a few stitches once, and had to go to the hospital to get something taken out of my eye (a small piece of metal, which rusted, which they had to use this drill to get the rust out, and then drop the sh*t out of it for a week straight while I was back at work, but I'm fine now). But generally speaking if you have common sense, you wear eye protection religiously, even if you don't need it, and be aware of what can happen and what hole you're jumping into, you should be pretty safe.

    The other thing I like about plumbing is myself being someone who appreciates high quality tools, both of the hand and power variety, you have an oppurtunity to use a wide variety of them. There is the oppurtunity to take pride in your work - there is something special about stepping back and looking at a complex piping system you just pieced and soldered together and is level and plumb, or if drainage, graded properly and consistently. The job also isn't boring. I mean there are days where you are doing the same thing for 12 suites in a row (if you're doing condo's), but then you may be doing copper one day, and then cast iron the next, and then a gas line on the 3rd day. There are always unexpected surprises too. Sometines they suck, but sometimes something just won't work out, or your pipes are in the way of where something is supposed to go, and it becomes a bit of a challenge and creativity to figure out a way to get your plumbing to fit somewhere or around something.

    All in all I encourage you to give it a try. It's not for everyone, but it's a tradesman's trade. There are days when it sucks. Sometimes being in a trench doing underground for weeks on end with a shovel can happen, but then there are those warm days in the dead of winter when you're doing finishing in a heated suite.

    Best of luck.


    • #3
      Awesome reply, very informative! [img]smile.gif[/img]

      Any others willing to chip in? Go for it! Any information I can get is appreciated.


      • #4
        If you are willing to work hard, get dirty and listen repeatedly to the same bad jokes about your profession you will be able to earn a nice living standard for yourself and your family.

        As far as dangerous the answer is yes, it can be, and yes scores and sometimes hundreds of people in the piping industry are killed annually across North America. The fatalities usually occur in confined space accidents, falls and trench collapses. Most of these are preventable yet they still happen. There are also chronic and acute health concerns and issues. You have to decide if you want to be a safe and responsible person and there may be times where you will have to stand up to others for your own right to be safe.

        You have to be willing to start at the bottom as an apprentice and your appprenticeship should last 4 or 5 years. Anything less is not enough time to learn what you need to know to be a competent journeyman. There is a global demand for plumbers and fitters though licensing laws and wage scales vary widely. A good plumber is almost never without a good job.

        Would I reccomend this trade to others? It depends, its not for everyone. If the idea of dirty fingernails and permenantly calloused hands bother you or if you are claustiphobic or have a deep fear of heights then I would say "no, stay away." If you enjoy hard work, can work well without supervision and always do things right even when no one is looking, and have the stamina for a lot of heavy lifting then I would say yes, give it a try and welcome to the trade, we need good men.. It has provided a very nice life for me and mine.
        Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.


        • #5
          quellex, being a plumber has been a decision i made when i was 12 years old working weekends and summer vacation. i worked with an uncle in service and repair, with some remodels. i loved the crawling under houses and digging lawns. i picked up on what needed to be done and what parts were needed.

          after finishing high school i was accepted into a union apprenticeship. 4 years of school and on the job training. as plumber said, you need the formal schooling to really get an idea of the technical side of the trade. there is more to the trade than a plunger and a wrench. not everything you will learn in school or a code book will ever apply to your job, but it's nice to know that it's in our trade and we can do the work.

          you will never be out of work in this trade. there is always a friend or a neighbor that needs plumbing work. i worked for a large new construction shop for approx. 15 years and always did service on my own time. now it's all service. there is always something new in our trade and i try to be in the forefront of it.

          what i'm saying is, if you really put your mind to this career, you'll never look back or second guess yourself. plus the pay's not bad.

          go for it. best of luck.



          • #6
            I did plumbing for 7yr and now i do hvac/pipefitting for 16yr at the same place. I like doing hvac work i do not have kneel down as much.and i think the pay is better. Good luck and work hard at what ever you do it will pay off in the long run.

            My seek the peek fundraiser page


            new work pictures 12/09


            • #7
              Welcome to the site Hawk,

              with 16 years HVAC experience your insights will be a valuable thing here.
              Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.


              • #8
                While I was still in school I wanted to be a plumber. However, I started out doing HVAC at E.L. Payne in Beverly Hills first then switched to plumbing when work got slow.

                Here in So Cal we were real busy doing HVAC during the summer but slow during the winter. Plumbing kept me busy all year long which made it easier to feed the family.

                With my cross-training I soon found I was the foreman of the Plumbing/HVAC division of a large Construction Company.

                "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

                I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!


                • #9
                  Being a plumber you will never have to worry about having your job outsorced overseas!
                  Unless you are the lead Dog, the scenery does not change...


                  • #10
                    if you do take up plumbing you will have a lot of frinds. everyone needs some plumbing some time or another.

                    My seek the peek fundraiser page


                    new work pictures 12/09