Written by Eamonn Ryan
Plumbing is something that many people get very passionate about. You may think that only applies to those who grew up in the plumbing industry through a father, mother or aunts and uncles. But for many people it is a case that they never really choose plumbing—it chose them. As a young person in high school, you’re probably investigating what you want to do in the future. You might be looking at university options to find a path that suits your interests. You could do worse – but you could also do a whole lot better.
There are other options available to you. There’s a myth that trades in general – like plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating and air conditioning), roofing, carpentry, etc. – are a dumb person’s career. That’s simply not true. Before accepting that prejudice, first speak personally to someone who does plumbing—they’re not at all dumb and they’ll tell you there’s a great living to make, and it’s extremely rewarding.
In terms of money, there are people in the plumbing trade that are making much more than someone with a university degree. Of course, they have to be good at what they do. This job isn’t exactly easy, but what job is especially if it has a high-income potential? There’s a large amount of responsibility, experience, and skill that’s required in order to truly excel.
When it comes to plumbing, there are actually two types of plumbers: installers or construction plumbers, and maintenance plumbers. An installer is someone that is in the new construction industry. They just install new plumbing systems, and so there can be a glass ceiling for installers. Maintenance plumbers are those who have two skill sets. They have the technical ability of an installer, but they also have a strong ability to communicate. Maintenance plumbers need the soft skills to work with people such as homeowners and corporates along with their technical skills.
A plumber is definitely a professional career. It can be rewarding to help people with their problems. From a monetary perspective, it would also be a great way for you to provide for your future family.
There is a series of articles on The Master Plumber App and on the IOPSA website regarding the various apprenticeship programmes and colleges which provide plumbing training.
As a youth of high school age, you should definitely be looking into the trades. It’s best to find someone knowledgeable about the plumbing industry. Don’t ask someone who’s either not in the trades or knows nothing about plumbing. If you do, you might come across that prevalent myth and end up working in a cubicle in a bank branch. Instead, ask a vocational schoolteacher or business owner who’s successful in plumbing. They are the most qualified person to steer you in the right direction.
If you do decide that the plumbing trade is right for you, start early. It’s much harder to learn about your desired trade when you’re also trying to work a full time 40–50-hour job. Don’t wait until you’re working somewhere else to try and get started. There are things you can do while still at the high school level to learn about plumbing. For example, it could be vocational school or online resources.
Don’t forget about soft skills like communication and sales if you’re choosing a technical career. They matter, especially when it comes to being successful at working with others.
Most importantly, young people need to stay out of trouble. It’s extremely hard when a 25-year-old realises that their prior bad driving record (or even worse, criminal record) is preventing them from pursuing the career they want. Sometimes young people don’t even consider this. However, in almost any business, employers will not hire someone who has anything on their background or driving record.