Should You Become a Plumber?
With a steady decline in working plumbers in Ottawa, and across the country, many young people should be asking themselves a question: should I become a plumber?
Plumbing isn’t for everyone, and few children dream of growing up to be a plumber. It can be difficult, heavy, exhausting, dirty, gross, repetitive, and upsetting at times.
But, all jobs have cons. So…
What Are The Benefits of Becoming a Plumber?
With such a shortage of skilled labor, the opportunities are becoming better and better.
More and more companies are fighting over the small pool of licensed plumbers, and even apprentices.
With so much competition, means an increase in perks. Income, benefits, time off, pension, and more, are on their way to becoming the standard.
And, if you get a job at a good company, like John The Plumber, you can expect a wide variety of fun bonuses and incentives to add on to everything else.
The reality is that less people are becoming plumbers, while the demand for plumbing professionals is increasing.
This means that there will always be work for plumbers.
You can literally quit one job today, and start another job tomorrow. That’s how tight the job market has become!
Plumbers get paid well. Upon presenting an invoice, it’s not uncommon for plumbers to hear “I’m a doctor, but maybe I should have become a plumber instead!”
Yes, maybe you should have!
We have to incentivize the next generation to work a difficult jobs under difficult conditions. That means paying well!
Good luck with your student loans, doc!
Benefits and Perks
This was mentioned in previous points, but I’ll say it again.
Companies have to compete for the limited supply of plumbing professionals.
So, if you manage a company… How would you compete?
First of all, you better treat your employees well. I know our employees are all very happy with the relationship they have with management.
Second of all, you have to find ways to keep your employees satisfied on an ongoing basis. This is not easy! More and more companies are finding more and more creative ways to make the job more beneficial and exciting for their staff.
Solving Problems for People
Not always, but most of the time when somebody calls a plumber… They’re not having a good day.
Whether a plumber is fixing a leak, unclogging a toilet, or repairing a sewer, he is solving a big problem for somebody. The plumber is legitimately improving somebody’s day, whether they know it or not.
Doing things for other people feels good!!! And, best of all, it’s your job! Talk about two stones, baby!
Feelings of Accomplishment
It’s a growing problem in the world of mental health that many people have “nothing jobs.”
What this means, is there are countless jobs that really don’t appear to benefit society. Somewhere down the line, a job was created and filled that really doesn’t accomplish anything, or has been made obsolete.
Imagine if you had one of these obsolete jobs. You’re scared to quit, because the pay is pretty decent… But you feel like you do nothing all day. Maybe you do nothing.
You’d feel like a fraud! And, you might feel trapped.
Now, I’m sure there are people out there that think this is the dream… But, feeling like your existence benefits the world, even just a little bit, is crucial for your sense of well-being.
You know what plumbers do?
Plumbers take care of sh*t!
Plumbers make sure that thirsts are quenched, and that doodoo is removed from premises. They make sure that you can take a warm shower, and that the ceilings under the bathroom pipes don’t rot.
Plumbers make sure that your basement doesn’t fill with sewage, and that your sump pump can handle the autumn rains.
They help build you the kitchen of your dreams and plumbers help build the home of your dreams.
Plumbers sweat and bleed so that their neighbours can enjoy the benefits of a modern-day plumbing system.
They’re the unsung heroes of our homes. They’re not the heroes we deserve, but the heroes we need.
Not everyone can say anything close to that. How good would it be able to truly say these things?
You’ll Develop and Hone a Legitimate Skill
So many men and women are self conscious of the practical skills they are lacking.
I’d bet that a lot of people are sensitive about depending on other people for solving problems around the house.
Does a plumber feel this way? Not when it comes to his plumbing, at least!
When it comes to plumbing, you’re the MVP of your home, and probably the homes of your friends and family.
And, it doesn’t stop there!
Plumbers develop a myriad skills that will be useful in home repair and maintenance.
I’d bet countless plumbers do their own renovation projects, appliance replacements, and home repairs.
Your self worth climbs monumentally when you pick up skills, and even more so when it’s skills that will actually come in handy.
Best of all, you’ll be paid for it! 5000 hours of education will be paid for before you’re licensed, and you’ll never stop learning on the job!
Have you ever heard of plumbers’ strength?
Let me tell you about it. There is no such thing as a pickle jar that can remain sealed against the firm grip of a plumber.
There is no bolt that refuses to become unwrenched against the might of a plumber and There is no pipe that can resist the pull of a stubborn plumber.
(I’m sure there are some exceptions to this, but stay with me)
Everyday, plumbers use their muscles in all sorts of weird ways that most people simply don’t.
Obviously, there will be some heavy lifting, like water heaters and toilets.
But, tightening bolts in hard to reach places will develop an insane forearm strength. Undoing a fitting with your extended fingers awkwardly under a sink will increase the strength of something else, probably.
Plumbers are strong guys. All day, every day, they are using their muscles in macro movements AND micro movements. Not a lot of work will work you out in these unusual ways, and you will develop some crazy strength.
I’d bet if a licensed plumber went to a gym for the first time, he’d crush just about every other day-one newbie out there – and maybe even the gym rats!
Everyday is Different
No two customers are the same, no two homes are the same, no two plumbing systems are the same, and no two jobs are the same.
Every day is at least a little different.
Many people out there repeat the same day, day in and day out. Have you ever seen the movie Groundhog Day? Many people live their lives very similarly.
But, as a plumber, every day is different.
You’ll get to spend time in your van driving from one place to another, listening to music, podcasts, or audiobooks.
You get to interact with all sorts of people, who are relieved to see you! (Most of the time)
You’ll get to look at all sorts of problems and systems, and figure out the best solutions from a number of options.
You get to use your mind to figure out the causes of problems. You’ll get to deduce where symptoms are coming from. You get to use your brain AND your body in different ways, regularly!
Not everyone gets to enjoy variety.
Plumbing is Relatively Stress Free
Many people never get to “shut work off”.
What I mean, is that even though you’re no longer getting paid at the end of the day, you continue to think and worry about work.
“Did this get done on time?”
“Did that person approve of that thing?”
“The to-do list is getting out of hand!”
Many jobs have a lot of things that are hard to stop thinking about and you never really leave work. Work follows you around like a bad smell, and it can be pretty emotionally taxing.
For the most part, when you finish your day of plumbing work, you get to go home and enjoy your time off. Sometimes, of course, there are jobs or issues that might concern you in your off hours. But, for the most part, you leave the work at work!
No Shortage of Work
Most plumbing companies are thrilled if you ask for overtime! But, they’re often afraid to ask because they don’t want you to feel obligated to do things you don’t want to do.
So, if you ever spend a little too much money and need to make some extra cash, you can always ask for more hours!
Reasonable Work Hours
Sure, there are tons of companies out there who want to offer evening and weekend plumbing services.
But, these companies know that if you don’t want to work those hours, you can work somewhere that doesn’t make you!
For the most part, plumbers get to work weekdays during the day and enjoy their evenings.
However, if you’re somebody who is willing to work evenings and weekends, you can often get a better rate because of how much value you add to the company.
There are many more benefits to becoming a plumber, but let’s move on to some of the cons…
Cons of Being a Plumber
It Can Be Hard and Demanding Work
Toilets are heavy! So, are pipes, appliances, and tons of other things involved in various plumbing jobs.
But, more importantly, a lot of plumbing work is done in uncomfortable positions. Plumbers often find themselves bent in awkward positions and extending their arms in tiring ways to get the job done.
It’s not easy work!
It Can Be Dirty
Every plumber has gross stories they can tell.
Sometimes it will have to do with the contents of drains and what they had to touch. Other Times it will be about worksites and conditions.
When you go into people’s homes and you work in unseen areas (cabinets, basements, utility rooms), there can be all sorts of situations that you don’t want to be in.
Not to mention, you’re dealing with drains and sewers a lot of the time. These systems are specifically meant for handling nastiness.
Customers Can Be Difficult
Rarely are customers excited to call a plumber.
Most of the time, service plumbers get called when a customer is having a bad day.
While most customers are good people who are good to servicemen, some customers will try to take their frustration and upset out on the poor guy trying to help them.
Not to mention, plumbing can be expensive. There’s a lot of costs that go into running a plumbing business, and those costs have to be accounted for. People can become upset if you fix the problem too quickly, because of what they’re paying. (As if working slower is more beneficial to them).
They forget that it’s not just the labor of the plumber, but the equipment, the equipment maintenance, the van, the vehicle insurance, the business insurance, the phone lines, the customer service, the software (CRM, payroll, accounting, etc), the taxes, the website, the business cards, the internet, storage and office space, and much more.
As a result of not understanding these factors, sometimes the customer will be upset at the plumber. It’s not often, but it happens.
The job is only done when it’s done.
Majority of the time, you’re going to need to finish the work before your day is over so that the customer can use their toilet or hot water.
While most companies will do their best to schedule reasonably for the expected work, complications happen all of the time.
Sometimes, a small job turns into a big job very quickly.
That means that the plumber is going to have to stick around to finish a long day.
Not Everyone Respects a Plumber
Not everyone will be bothered by this, but some members of society might look down upon people who use their hands (AND their minds) to earn a paycheck.
It’s naive and ignorant, but it happens!
Some people might have a hard time dealing with stereotypes.
Our advice: Don’t be concerned about this nonsense. You’re going to have a stable job that pays well and is fairly stress free with no student debt. Some could argue that you should be the one judging. But, we’re not a judgy bunch.
So, now that you know the pros and cons, you’re probably wondering…
How Do I Become a Plumber in Ontario?
There are a few different paths that you can take, but here’s my advice:
Becoming a licensed plumber will take around five years to complete. This will include thousands of hours of experience, and hundreds of hours in class. And, the education doesn’t stop there! For the remainder of your career, you can expect to find weird situations that require you to adapt and learn. Be prepared to be a student for life!
What About a Pre-Apprenticeship Plumber Program?
A pre-apprenticeship plumber program will teach you a lot of things. You’ll learn both the theory and practice of plumbing. It’s absolutely useful.
My advice about finding a job first was to ensure that you enjoy the work. You can get paid while you learn if plumbing is for you.
Conclusion – Is plumbing for me?
Plumbing isn’t for everybody.
It can be hard and unpleasant at times.
But it also has an extraordinary number of benefits that few other industries share.
The truth is, the only person who can answer whether plumbing is for you or not is you.
You can absolutely make a good life as a plumber. You can get the house, feed the family, have the toys, go on trips, invest, and save for retirement. But, the only person who knows if they are tough enough to endure the bad to earn the good is you. And, truthfully, you might not even know yet!
I wish you good luck in your future and your career. I’d love to see more young people (or not-so-young people) getting into this amazing field. Lord knows we’re going to need more plumbers!