How much does a plumber make in total and per hour in the USA? 2022 update

A plumber’s salary is largely dependent on the city they reside in and the number of years they have been working in the field (from apprentice, tradesmen, journeymen to master plumber or project manager). The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides some insights into this. 

When you break it down to an hourly rate, a plumber can make between $22 and $50 per hour. Specialized plumbers (for example in heating for commercial buildings) can make up to 100 USD per hour as their unique skills warrant a premium. This results in yearly earnings of 30.000 for beginners to 500.000+ USD for shop owners.

Plumbers that work for themselves often also get a cut on the things that they install. For example, when they install a water heater, they can get several hundreds of dollars for this. Some plumbers are transparent about this whereas others aren’t. Customers are able to find the prices of everything online so they can compare. Therefore, most plumbers move to a system in which they charge a higher hourly rate and don’t ask extra for the installed items.

For repairs, a lot of plumbers use a pricing book that can give the customer an overview of the costs. In some competitive areas, this might be less interesting as competitors can copy your prices. 

We have discussed how you can become a plumber here. It can take several steps but it is quite easy to get started if you take an apprenticeship. 

Licensed versus unlicensed plumbers

Licensed plumbers can earn up to double what unlicensed plumbers get. In order to become a certified plumber, it is important that you follow through with the necessary steps to earn your license. A certified plumber must complete a training course that provides a foundation for their career and pass a certification test.

Plumbing helpers or apprentices, often earn around 12-18 USD per hour. Journeyman often earn double of this. In some instances, you can negotiate to get more.

However, if you are in a rush to get into the field, you can always take the Plumbing Institute of America’s entry-level exam. This test costs $287 and allows one to be licensed as an apprentice plumber with no other prerequisites. Check your local requirements as well by reaching out to a trades organization in your area.

Another alternative is taking the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors’ entry-level examination which costs $150 and will allow you to get your license as an apprentice boiler or pressure vessel inspector. Specializing as a plumber is a great idea as it allows you to offer unique services in your location.

What are some of the best cities to work as a plumber?

Some of the best cities to work as a plumber are New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. Other cities that also make this list include San Francisco, Miami, Boston, Houston, and Washington D.C.

The following is a list of the top 10 most populated cities in the United States:

1. New York City 2. Los Angeles 3. Chicago 4. Philadelphia 5. San Francisco 6. Miami 7. Atlanta 8. Houston 9. Washington D.C 10.- Boston

Boomtowns such as Forth Worth or Dallas can be great places to work as a plumber as the demand is outstripping the supply. In some instances, you can charge a lot more than the market rate because people are desperate to get something fixed.

After a hurricane or winter storm has hit an area, it can also be a great moment to go and work there. People often want to get things repaired as soon as possible.

Each city has great neighborhoods that are lucrative. You just have to promote your business more in these areas and increase your prices. It is possible to charge more as these customers expect a better business. Small details such as not parking your truck on their driveway or wearing a proper shirt can make a big difference and allow you to charge more. 

Sweaty startup has some great articles about how you can get started, charge more and find more customers for your plumbing business.

How to earn more as a plumber: specializations and more

A plumber’s specializations include gas pipe repair, boiler installation, kitchen faucet repair and replacement, drain cleaning, and more. Typically the different types of plumbers have a different salaries depending on what specialization they are working in. A plumber can start out with less than $12 per hour as an apprentice before moving up to $30-40 per hour in the specialty that they are working in.

As a result of all this training, experience, and testing required by state standards in order to earn your license as a professional plumber, you will end up spending around $5-10 thousand.

Check your local plumbers and see what they charge. It is often possible to charge more if you provide additional services. It is possible that you lose money on some clients if you don’t charge enough. To avoid this, you have to record the costs of the materials that you have used. Be sure to take fuel and other expenses such as taxes into account. It is quite easy to forget expenses. You can also talk to an accountant in your area to get an idea of how much plumbers charge and make. 

There are many ways to increase your salary as a plumber. In some cases, you can work for a large company and earn more than someone working for a small company. Additionally, the more experience you have in the field, the higher your salary will be. Other professionals in your profession are paid according to their experience level with the highest-paid tier being those who have 10 years of experience or more and less experienced professionals at the bottom of that pay scale. Lastly, geographical location is another factor that affects how much money you make as a plumber. If you’re looking to earn more than average as a plumber, consider moving somewhere where there is a higher demand for services like yours.

Do employed or independent plumbers make more money?

The answer to this question is not easy to answer. As with many professions, you might more money as an employed plumber than an independent plumber.  It depends on how your business is set up and what your ambitions are. Starting a plumbing company can take a lot of work. It can take 5-10 years before you start to see big payoffs as you need to invest in equipment as well. Finding a great mentor can reduce this time frame.

Independent plumbers have the potential to make more money because they don’t need employers and can set their own hours. Additionally, if you are self-employed or run your own business in the industry, you can keep all of your income for yourself–without having to give up a percentage as an employer would. You could even increase your hourly rate over time by increasing the quality of your service. Most plumbers start as an employee and venture out on their own later on. Not everyone enjoys managing people and some plumbers remain active in the field. Given their smaller scale, they might earn less than plumbers that decide to build an organization around their business. This all depends on personal choices and how much risk you want to take on.  People that scale up this business can make a lot of money as they can use their skills to invest in real estate as well.

To conclude, we can state that the hourly wage of a plumber can vary quite broadly. There are a lot of factors such as skill level, geography, and so on. Plumbers that offer a great service can make a lot of money as they have loyal customers. Taking an apprenticeship can be a great way to get started.