Plumber Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Plumber, or Plumbing Maintenance Technician, is a skilled tradesperson in charge of installing, inspecting and repairing pipes and plumbing systems to make sure all of a building’s fixtures operate correctly. Their duties include finding the source of leaks and blockages, fixing or replacing broken parts and testing the plumbing system.

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Plumber Duties and Responsibilities

A plumber should be able not only to perform a variety of plumbing tasks but also to communicate with both commercial and residential clients. The plumber is sometimes the only person a client interacts with, so customer service can be a big part of the job. The ability to keep accurate and complete records is also important. 

Here are some duties and responsibilities that might be expected of plumbers:

  • Carry out regular maintenance of plumbing systems at commercial and residential sites
  • Perform installation of plumbing systems at new properties
  • Inspect previously installed plumbing systems at commercial and residential sites
  • Perform any necessary repairs to previously installed systems
  • Answer calls for plumbing issues from general contractors
  • Keep up to date with current safety regulations and requirements for the various plumbing systems a company installs and maintains
  • Work carefully to follow all current regulations for plumbing work to ensure that all installed systems pass inspections
  • Communicate well with clients to ensure client satisfaction
  • Communicate well with team members and fellow employees
  • Manage a work log
  • Keep detailed reports of work done at various job sites
  • Provide information regarding plumbing system upkeep to clients
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What Does a Plumber Do?

Plumbers work for maintenance businesses and travel to various job sites to diagnose and solve plumbing issues. They respond to emergencies like burst pipes and perform routine maintenance to keep plumbing systems safe and functional while preventing future problems like leaks or rusted pipe fittings. Plumbers source the right materials to help homeowners, businesses and government offices maintain their plumbing, enabling appropriate drainage and water flow for indoor and outdoor areas. They enter crawl spaces in homes to solve problems with pipes and make sure they connect properly to indoor plumbing fixtures like water heaters, toilets and sinks.

Plumber Skills and Qualifications

Because much of their work is later hidden and inaccessible and is expected to last for many years, plumbers must be highly skilled and experienced. They must complete specialized training and several years of apprenticeship and be licensed, and they must also know and adhere to state and local requirements.

Here are some of the skills and qualifications employers look for in plumbers: 

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • A valid plumber’s license
  • Three or more years of trade experience as a plumber or plumber’s apprentice
  • Thorough knowledge of plumbing system maintenance and repairs
  • Time management skills
  • Ability to drive company vehicles to various commercial and residential sites for work
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills in client and co-worker relations 
  • Understanding of current field regulations
  • Level 2 Intermediate Plumbing Diploma is preferred
  • Level 3 Advanced Plumbing Diploma is desirable

Plumber Salary Expectations

Plumbers in the United States make an average of $25.45 per hour. The average overtime pay for a plumber in the United States is $6,750 per year. Salary depends on the location of the plumber position and the level of experience the plumber has. Plumbers can gain tenure over three years to earn a higher salary, and they can also continue training and education to gain further certificates and degrees for higher pay and managerial positions. 

Plumber Education and Training Requirements

A person who wants to be a plumber will first need a high school diploma or GED. They will then need to gain certification from a technical school, community college or trade school by taking vocational classes. Finally, a plumber can become licensed once they’ve completed an apprenticeship under a master plumber or through an apprentice program. An apprenticeship for plumbing usually lasts four to five years. Most states require plumbers to have a plumbing license before working on a site.

Plumber Experience Requirements

When looking for experienced applicants, you’ll need to specify the amount or type of experience you’re looking for. The job description for entry-level positions may state that there is no experience required. Typically, job descriptions for plumbers include an experience requirement of two to three years. As many plumbers begin work as apprentices, this can count as work experience. If the job is a higher level position with a higher pay rate or responsibility for other employees, you may want to attract more experienced applicants by requiring three or more years of experience. 

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Frequently asked questions about Plumbers


What is the difference between a Plumber and a Handyman?

Plumbers and Handymen can both make minor plumbing repairs. Plumbers may work on a team while Handymen often work as independent contractors. Handymen perform general maintenance tasks across specialties, such as basic plumbing, electrical work, drywall repair, carpentry and tiling. Plumbers exclusively work with plumbing systems and have the experience and training to handle large-scale installations and repairs that are too complex for a Handyman. For example, a Handyman might fix a clogged pipe or replace a broken toilet, while a Plumber could provide those services in addition to replacing rusted pipes under the home and installing new drainage systems. 


What are the daily duties of a Plumber?

Plumbers visit clients according to a schedule, either to perform an initial assessment or to follow up on a repair. A Plumber can remodel buildings to add new plumbing fixtures, install fire sprinklers, maintain water and gas lines, replace pipes, manage sewage systems and redirect pipes to prevent water damage. Emergency Plumbers are available 24/7 to respond to serious plumbing emergencies.

On a standard appointment, they talk to the property owner, manager or tenant about the problem they are experiencing, then perform an inspection to diagnose the problem. They determine what kinds of pipes and fittings they need, ordering specialty parts from a supplier when necessary. Plumbers come up with a quote for their clients estimating how much the parts and labor cost, then come up with a timeline for completing the project. After completing a job, the Plumber can help schedule cosmetic repairs for damage caused by the initial leak or the repair process.


What are the characteristics of a good Plumber?

Good Plumbers are excellent at solving problems and determining the correct cause of a plumbing problem. They think practically about the best way to install new pipes, considering the blueprints of a building and how the inhabitants use the space. Successful Plumbers communicate clearly with others, explaining the cost and purpose of different repairs and updates and being direct about the timeline of each plumbing project. Despite the messy aspects of plumbing, great Plumbers are tidy and organized, cleaning up after themselves and keeping their supplies in order at all times.


What are the different types of Plumber?

There are two main types of Plumbers: Residential Plumbers and Commercial Plumbers. Residential Plumbers work on homes, usually servicing multiple residences each day. Commercial Plumbers specialize in industrial repairs and work with more complex plumbing systems at places like schools, hospitals, parks and manufacturers. Commercial Plumbers tend to work with more general maintenance and waste-management tasks while Residential Plumbers respond to small leaks and clogs as they occur.

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