What Does a Plumber Do?

Plumber Lansdale PA installs, repairs, and maintains the pipes that bring water to and drain waste from homes and businesses. They also work with fixtures such as toilets, showers, and sinks. They interpret blueprints and building codes, and collaborate with architects and construction teams.


Plumbers may work in residential, commercial, and industrial settings. They are employed by plumbing companies, maintenance departments, or as self-employed professionals.

Aspiring plumbers have many options for training and education. They can begin their journey at a vocational school, where they can learn the basics of plumbing along with more advanced techniques like soldering and welding. These schools often have apprenticeship programs that last four to five years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.

Other options for aspiring plumbers include certificate programs offered by trade schools and community colleges. These shorter-term courses may not have the hands-on experience of an apprenticeship program but still provide valuable educational experiences, such as working with new tools and learning how to read blueprints.

Once a plumber has completed an apprenticeship or a certificate program, they must obtain their license. This involves completing a test that shows they have the necessary knowledge to work as a plumber. Obtaining a plumber’s license is an important step in the career progression process as it can help you gain more jobs and increase your pay rate.

Plumbers must also attend continuing education classes to stay updated on changes in the industry, laws and regulations. Taking these classes can also help you advance in your career, as it demonstrates to employers that you are dedicated to keeping up with the latest skills and tools.

Soft skills are also important for plumbers to have, as they can help them excel in their job. For example, good communication is key to understanding what the customer needs and how to best fix their problem. It is also important to be able to work well with others, as plumbers frequently work on teams.

Finally, it is important for plumbers to have strong math skills in order to calculate estimates and bill customers accurately. They also need to be able to think creatively and solve problems as they encounter them on the job. Plumbers should also strive to keep up with technology advancements, as they will likely need to learn more about new equipment and plumbing methods over time.


Generally, you can become a plumber by either completing a formal union or trade organization apprenticeship program, earning a plumbing degree from a community college, or working as an assistant to a master plumber for a specific number of years. The requirements for each route vary, so be sure to investigate them all to find which one is right for you.

Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you can apply to take a plumbing exam for a journeyman plumber license. In most cases, you will need to have between 4,000 and 12,000 hours of practical experience before you can sit for the exam. During this time, you will be working under a master plumber who will oversee your work and teach you the ropes.

If you want to become a master plumber, you will need at least 10 years of experience as an apprentice and five more as a journeyman. Many states require master plumbers to attend continuing education classes to keep their licensing current.

In addition to these qualifications, you will need soft skills like customer service and troubleshooting abilities to succeed as a plumber. These are skills you can develop through on-the-job experience or through a variety of other courses and certifications that may not be required but can make you more valuable to potential employers and customers. You might also consider joining a union, which can increase your earnings as well as give you access to job benefits like health insurance and pension plans.

Work Environment

The work environment for plumbers can vary depending on the type of plumbing project. Those who specialize in residential systems typically work within homes, installing and repairing appliances and fixtures like bathtubs, sinks, toilets, showers and water heaters. This can be a physically demanding job that requires working in tight spaces and climbing on ladders. It’s also common for plumbers to have to travel between different sites on a daily basis. This could include going from a client’s house to an office building and then back again to a home for another project.

Commercial and industrial plumbing projects offer a slightly different work environment. Plumbers in these settings often collaborate with other construction teams or architects, and may be responsible for installing entire plumbing systems in large buildings or manufacturing plants. This type of work can involve more complex plumbing equipment, such as gas and steam pipes. It’s also possible for plumbers in these environments to encounter hazardous materials, such as sewage and chemical solutions, which require extra precautions when handling.

Some plumbers choose to work independently, rather than with a plumbing company. This can allow for more flexibility in schedules and choice of projects, but it can also come with added stressors like on-call duties and the need to be available when emergencies occur. For these reasons, it’s important for anyone considering becoming a plumber to fully understand what this career entails before making the decision to pursue it.

Overall, plumbers tend to have a fairly positive outlook on their jobs. They enjoy the variety of tasks and physical labor involved in their work, as well as the opportunities for advancement. Many also appreciate that they don’t need a bachelor’s degree to become qualified and that the pay is fairly competitive for the industry. For those interested in learning more about the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a plumber, we recommend taking our career assessment to find out if this is the right career for you. We’ll assess your interests, values and skills to help match you with a job that is highly suited to your personality and abilities.

Job Duties

Plumbers install, repair and maintain the plumbing systems that carry water, sewage and waste in residential and commercial buildings. This includes pipes, fixtures and appliances such as sinks, toilets, bathtubs, showers and water heaters. They also inspect and test plumbing components, such as backflow prevention devices and cross-connection control valves, to ensure compliance with safety regulations. Some plumbers also work on gas supply lines and heating systems. Plumbers often collaborate with other construction professionals to ensure that plumbing systems are integrated seamlessly into building projects and meet all necessary requirements.

Plumber job duties may vary depending on the specific occupation, but all plumbers must have a strong understanding of the physical properties of pipes and materials as well as the ability to read blueprints and technical documents. They must also have excellent customer service skills, as they frequently interact with clients to provide estimates and answer questions. Plumbers should be physically fit, as they often need to lift heavy equipment and tools.

The work environment for a plumber can be dangerous, especially when working with sewage and other hazardous substances. Plumbers can face health hazards such as infections from contaminated water or soil, exposure to dangerous chemicals and high-pressure systems, and electrical shock from operating power tools. These risks can be reduced by following all proper safety procedures, wearing protective gear when working with hazardous materials and using properly insulated tools.

Some plumbers work on a contract basis and may be self-employed, whereas others are employees of large plumbing companies or organizations. In either case, these workers must keep up with industry standards and ongoing training to stay current with the latest tools and technology. They must also be able to work independently and solve problems without direct supervision. In addition, plumbing contractors must be able to effectively communicate with supervisors and other team members.