Self-employed master plumbers are experts at fixing leaky pipes, clogged toilets, faulty septic tanks and all sorts of other plumbing-related issues. Unlike plumbers who work as employees for plumbing companies, self-employed master plumbers are their own bosses. They need years of training, including classroom hours and on-the-job experience, to qualify. The kind of money you can make as a self-employed master plumber depends on where you work, your level of experience and the hours you put in.
Anyone who’s ever had a broken toilet or a basement leak knows the importance of having a skilled plumber. These individuals typically work regular business hours five days a week, though some may add extra hours on the weekend. They work in both residential and commercial settings. Plumbers must be aware of certain safety issues, and the job can be physically demanding. A typical day may include repairing a leaky pipe, fixing a toilet, installing plumbing, treating water and other related tasks.
To become a master plumber, you must first complete a plumbing certification course at a community college or vocational school. This usually coincides with an apprenticeship program, which typically lasts two to five years. Master plumbers need an additional four or five years of hands-on experience and must pass a series of state-approved exams that test their knowledge of state and local plumbing codes. States differ in the specific requirements for master plumbers, so check with your state’s board of labor for specific details.
Self-employed master plumbers usually make considerably more than plumbers who are just starting out and are hired out by a company. According to Education Portal, a master plumber with five to nine years of experience can expect to make between $37,085 and $56,000 a year. The salary for a master plumber with more than 20 years of experience ranges from $43,790 to $74,700 a year. On average, self-employed plumbers earn higher annual incomes than those who aren't self-employed, according to Education Portal.
Self-employed plumbers have the advantage of not having to answer to anybody other than their clients, but this comes with certain challenges. Like other self-employed individuals, self-employed plumbers generally need to figure out their own health care, retirement and insurance plans because they don’t have an employer providing these things for them. Self-employed plumbers also typically own much of their own equipment, which can usually be written off as business expenses during tax season.
2016 Salary Information for Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters earned a median annual salary of $51,450 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters earned a 25th percentile salary of $38,530, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $68,770, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 480,600 people were employed in the U.S. as plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters.
- Education Portal: What Is a Master Plumber's Average Base Salary?
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Plumbers, Pipelayers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters
- College Board: Plumbers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
- Career Trend: Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
Charlie Higgins is journalist, editor and translator based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and niche market websites, including International Food Trader, The Olive Oil Times, microDINERO, Sounds and Colours, Connecting Worlds and The Buenos Aires Reader.