How to Motivate the Plumbers of Tomorrow

By Matt Sonnhalter

Sparking interest in a career in plumbing.

For those in charge of hiring new talent in the plumbing and drain cleaning business, it is obvious that our country is dealing with a major skills gap in the trades. Many factors are to blame for this, such as the stigmatization of blue-collar labor, a deemphasis of trades being taught in school and the misconception that a bachelor’s degree is the only path for young people looking for high-paying jobs after high school. Regardless, the fact of the matter is that there are millions of skilled labor positions, many of which are paying $50,000 a year or more, going unfilled. While we wait for the pendulum to swing back in the other direction, there are many ways professionals in the plumbing and drain cleaning industry can help reshape the perception of these career paths. When speaking to high schoolers interested in the trades or prospective new employees, here are four facts that might help spark some serious interest in taking up a career in plumbing.

1. Plumbing careers are some of the highest-paying contractor jobs on the market.

According to a survey by the International Institute of Sewer & Pipe Cleaning, “The pay for a drain cleaner can vary from $12 to $43.50 per hour, with the average being between $16.83 and $22.81 per hour, depending on the level of experience and region of the country. This equates to $25,000 to $90,000 annually.” While it is true that people with a bachelor’s degree are more likely to be employed and earn higher salaries than those without a college education, the costs for training and certification to become a plumber or drain cleaner are significantly less expensive than the average cost for college tuition. Additionally, there are many apprenticeship programs that not only provide real-life training with licensed plumbers, they also afford individuals the opportunity to earn money while they learn the trade.

2. Plumbing and drain cleaning jobs are recession-proof careers.

Unlike most careers behind a desk, plumbers and drain cleaners are not vulnerable to any sort of economic downturn. Even in bad economic times, there will always be a busted pipe or broken toilet. Additionally, plumbers are never at risk of having their jobs outsourced overseas or by automated machinery.

3. Plumbers have the opportunity to be their own boss.

Another benefit to pursuing a career in plumbing and drain cleaning is the ability to be your own boss and start your own plumbing business, which can afford you more work-life balance and independence. While there are a number of marketing, equipment and transportation costs to consider, a drain cleaner can go into business with just a few quality machines and a reliable vehicle.

4. Each day brings a new job, customer and experience!

Unlike most white-collar jobs, plumbers and drain cleaners are never confined to the same four walls every day. Each day provides a new job site, new projects and new people. And the daily change of scenery can also be good for business. Moving from job site to job site allows you to make new contacts that could lead to better job prospects down the line.

The battle to close the skills gap is far from over and there is still a great deal of work to be done in raising awareness for all the great career opportunities in the trades. However, the reasons listed above should be very encouraging for young people interested in the trades and can be a positive start in your efforts to recruit the next generation of plumbers and drain cleaners.

Matt Sonnhalter is the Vision Architect at Sonnhalter. Founded in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets.

The battle to close the skills gap is far from over and there is still a great deal of work to be done in raising awareness for all the great career opportunities in the trades,