Skilled labor is in short supply in the United States. We are heading into a crisis of lacking enough plumbers to fix leaks, clear drains, and build houses. The shortage is most glaring in people trained to work with septic systems and in building maintenance and repair work. Plumbing training pays good wages, so why don’t more people want to be plumbers?
Why so Few Plumbers?
Jobs in plumbing are growing. The number of people entering those jobs is shrinking. In high-demand areas, top plumbers are turning away jobs. But plumbing is a necessity, not a luxury, and this pattern cannot continue.
Most of the skilled trades are seeing labor shortages and are looking for new people to fill the shoes of those who retire. Labor jobs and skilled positions throughout the building trades are seeing shortages of qualified new people. Unions, schools, and private entities are funding the push to get more people into the training pipeline.
Retirement & Aging Out of the Industry
Today, many plumbers are retiring. The Baby Boomers have already retired, and Generation X is nearing that age. Not enough trainees are entering the pipeline to cover retirements, while experts forecast growth in the profession.
Lack of Training Opportunities
Simply put, not enough young people want to be plumbers. In the past, high school vocational programs got young people ready to enter the skilled trades. Many plumbing businesses were family businesses, and children trained to follow their parents. Both pipelines have broken.
Plumbing’s Tough Reputation
Plumbing gets a reputation for being difficult and dirty, which turns away potential trainees. Youths today are getting the message that they need to go into computers. The media talks about the type of money people make in start-up electronic and information companies. They neglect to say that an experienced plumber can make roughly the same amount of money.
Lack of Skills Fit
Many young people lack the skills to present themselves as ready to work, according to current tradespeople. Common complaints include sloppy dress, tardiness, and a lack of a work ethic. This means that potential new plumbers are being turned away. They need to gain the most basic job-training skills.
Why the Acute Need for Plumbers?
Clean water is growing scarcer. Plumbers are the link between regular people and the high-quality water that they need to use daily. Today’s plumbing work features computers and high technology in smart homes and office buildings.
Population Growth in Scarce Water Areas
Population growth increases the need for plumbers. In the United States, the population is growing in the West, the South, and other areas that are often in drought and suffering water shortages. Making water stretch further means we need more skilled plumbers.
Opportunities: From Heritage Profession to New Diversity
Today, America’s nearly 500,000 plumbers earn, on average, $27.08 hourly. This is $56,330 annually. Plumbers’ helpers, pipefitters, and plumbers in training to become plumbers earn an average of $16.15 hourly ($33,590 annually). In growing cities and other high demand areas, an experienced plumber can earn $100,000 and up.
It takes about five years to train to be a plumber. Currently, about 50,000 people work as plumber’s helpers and trainees. This number is nowhere close to enough to make up for projected retirements in the field.
Having such a lack of plumbers creates opportunities for many diverse new people. Many women, minority, and LGBTQ people formerly did not see themselves as plumbers, or even in the skilled trades. These jobs had the reputation of being held by white men and passed down in families. The plumber shortage opens the doors to the field wide, and many new training programs are starting up. The next generation of plumbers is already growing more diverse.
Recruiting New Plumbers
Plumbers are finding new ways to recruit. A new YouTube show, “American Plumber Stories”, features profiles of plumbers breaking ground in new areas of their profession. Pfister, the producer, aims to get rid of the old “blue collar” stereotypes and recast plumbing as a current and relevant job.
If you have a project that needs plumbers, keep AQM Inc in mind. We are a full-service HVAC & electric company who contracts with plumbers and other skilled trades in home building and repair. We take care of it all. Call us. You will be glad you did.
AQM Supports the Skilled Trades – Today and in the Future!