What Is a Plumber? Complete Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 June 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Plumbers are skilled professionals who install and maintain piping and water systems in residential and commercial buildings. They learn through training courses and on-the-job experience. If you enjoy fixing things and interacting with people, then plumbing can be a good career option for you. In this article, we explain what a plumber does and what it takes to start a career in plumbing. We also discuss the different types of plumbing jobs and the responsibilities associated with them.

What is a plumber?

Plumbers are technicians who handle various aspects of installing and maintaining plumbing systems. The scope of their work ranges from water supply and heating to sanitation and drainage. Plumbers may work in commercial and residential buildings, farms, parks and public spaces. Experienced plumbers may own and operate their own business and hire entry and mid-level plumbers.

What does a plumber do?

Plumbers install, repair and maintain water/gas supplies, sanitation units and related appliances in commercial and residential buildings. They often assess plumbing systems, diagnose issues and implement workable solutions. The typical duties of a plumber include:

  • Solving plumbing issues in residential and commercial buildings

  • Estimating the cost of the work/project before starting work

  • Diagnosing issues in plumbing systems and suggesting long-term solutions

  • Analysing blueprints to plan new installations

  • Installing sinks, toilets and other related fixtures

  • Testing plumbing systems for weaknesses and durability

  • Repairing water supply and sanitation appliances

  • Cutting, assembling and welding tubes, pipes, fittings and other related fixtures

  • Sourcing and managing materials for different projects

What skills are important for plumbers?

Some useful skills for plumbers are:

Technical skills

Plumbers must have a good understanding of machinery and should be adept at using various tools. They regularly use wrenches, pipe cutters, hacksaws, bending equipment, grips, seals and tapes. They often have to make accurate measurements, calculations and specifications to ensure that projects are completed efficiently and safely within deadlines.

Read more: Technical Skills: Definitions and Examples

Physical skills

Plumbing is a physically demanding job that requires flexibility, physical strength, excellent motor skills and good vision. For instance, plumbers often need to work in dark spaces and with small tools and equipment like gauges.

Analytical skills

Although a degree in physics, maths or technology is not required to pursue plumbing as a career, plumbers require knowledge of some practical applications of these subjects relevant to their field. Plumbers have to analyse how systems like water supply and sanitation work. They should be able to determine how changes in conditions and parameters affect outcomes. They also have to conduct tests and inspections to determine the cause of errors and make detailed plans to rectify them.

Read more: Analytical Skills: Definition, Tips and Examples

Problem-solving skills

Plumbers should have the ability to identify the root cause of a problem and provide realistic solutions. Plumbers often need to solve complex problems within short time frames while projects are ongoing. This requires them to think creatively and logically.

Read more: Problem-Solving Skills: Definitions and Examples

Administrative skills

Plumbers may need to track expenses, make inventories, order supplies and plan project calendars. From time to time, a plumber may need to prepare reports and submit and explain those to clients or supervisors.

Read more: Management Skills: Definition and Examples

Communication skills

Plumbers may sometimes work with a wide variety of people as part of a single project and may need to communicate effectively with assistants, managers, business owners, material suppliers and homeowners. They should be able to articulate their thoughts accurately while delivering professional messages. They also need to be able to explain complicated ideas and processes in ways that people can easily understand.

Read more: Communication Skills: Definitions and Examples

How to become a plumber

These are the steps you need to take to become a plumber:

1. Attain higher secondary school education

Although formal education is not necessary for most plumbing jobs, some companies may prefer candidates who have completed their higher secondary education. Plumbers should have a basic understanding of science, technology and mathematics. Good command of computer-aided drafting tools is also beneficial in a plumbing job.

Read more: How to Find Your Desired Career Path

2. Pursue vocational training courses for plumbing

Vocational education trains candidates for jobs that involve manual or practical activities. These courses are typically non-academic and related to specific trades, occupations and vocations. It is also called technical education, as the student develops skill-sets associated with a group of techniques or practices.

Polytechnic colleges around the country offer several such vocational training courses. These avenues are usually cheaper compared to undergraduate programmes in engineering, architecture or planning.

Read more: Vocational Education

3. Work as an apprentice plumber

Following vocational training from a polytechnic college, you can also get work experience by pursuing a plumbing apprenticeship under an experienced practitioner in the field. The length of this engagement will vary depending on the apprenticeship. A plumbing apprenticeship is an opportunity to receive on-the-job training and learn about regulations and codes, procedures and specialised skills related to the trade.

Related: On-the-Job Training for Efficient Staff Development

4. Get certified by a competent authority

Plumbers use certifications as a credential to verify technical knowledge and experience in the industry. Having a certification can show potential employers and clients that you understand how to install and repair gas, waste and water pipe systems safely.

The Indian Plumbing Skills Council or IPSC provides certifications that hold value in the market. IPSC training partners train candidates under different schemes. Once a candidate is assessed by an assessment body, they are awarded IPSC certification which states that the candidate is fit to work under different job roles of plumbing as per international standards.

5. Gain experience

After obtaining your plumbing certification, you can continue gaining experience as a practitioner. It is good practice to keep learning more about the trade. Develop new skills and stay updated on best practices in the field. This can help advance your career to levels with higher pay and more benefits.

Levels of plumbers

Plumbers can work full-time or part-time schedules. Their salaries vary depending on their education and experience levels. Here are the three levels of plumbers and their roles and responsibilities:

1. Apprentice plumber

An apprentice plumber is the first level in a plumbing career. This role involves assisting more experienced plumbers, practising your skills on the job and learning more about plumbing systems. At this level, plumbing is practised only under the supervision of a journeyman or master plumber.

Related: Types of Workplace Training: Definitions and Examples

2. Journeyman plumber

A journeyman plumber can work unsupervised and has more complex duties than those of an apprentice plumber. This may include installing plumbing systems, fixtures and appliances. At this level, plumbers might choose to specialise in certain areas of plumbing that can help them distinguish their services from those of other plumbers.

3. Master plumber

The master plumber role is the highest level you can achieve in your plumbing career. At this level, you can operate your own plumbing business, acquire permits to complete projects and hire junior plumbers to support your work. Master plumbers perform many of the same duties as journeymen and apprentices, but also handle management, financial and legal responsibilities for their business. They often carry certifications for their business, which helps them scale up their operations systematically.

How much does a plumber make?

The average salary for a plumber is ₹17,165 per month or ₹2,42,433 per year. An apprentice plumber makes ₹15,402 per month or ₹2,17,544 per year, while the average salary for a master plumber is ₹20,150 per month or ₹2,84,602 per year.

Plumbing contractors who take up larger contracts are paid on a contract basis and their earnings depend on the size and duration of the contract. Plumbers can also find work opportunities in government undertakings like the Public Works Department (PWD).

Similar jobs and salaries

Here are some other jobs that related to plumbing:

Plumbing engineer

A plumbing engineer is a certified professional engineer who designs water, sanitation and drainage systems for residential and commercial buildings. The average salary for a plumbing engineer in India is ₹22,292 per month or ₹ 3,14,853 per year.

Related: Plumbing Engineer Salary in India

Drain Technician

Drain technicians handle the installation and maintenance of drainage components used in sanitation systems. They assess designs, install drainage systems and perform maintenance and repair work. The average salary for a drain technician in India is ₹15,870 per month or ₹2,24,152 per year.

Related: Drain Technician Salary in India

Installer

Installers travel to customer's houses or places of business, install equipment, suggest areas for installation, troubleshoot and provide customers with operating instructions. The average salary for an installer in India is ₹16,092 per month or ₹2,27,276 per year.

Related: Installer Salary in India

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in the article is affiliated with Indeed.

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