Plumber Salary | How Much Do Plumbers Earn?

Specific plumber salary can vary depending on your experience level, the area of the country in which you work, and how many hours you are willing to work in a given week.  In this article, we’ll outline typical plumbing salary levels so you know what to expect prior to choosing to become a plumber.  We’ll also talk about ways that you can actually earn more than the average.

One aspect to keep in mind as you read is this: these figures are not “one size fits all”.  Just like with any career or field, you could earn more or less than the averages.  These numbers include many different working environments and should be used only as a general plumbing salary guide.

How Much is a Yearly Plumber Salary?

According to US News, the median yearly plumbing salary in the United States in 2014 was $50,660.  Remember though, that is the median salary which represents the 50th percentile, or the middle.  You could make less, or much more.  In fact, they report that some of the higher paid plumbers make upwards of $88,000 per year or more!  That’s a pretty good wage, but realize that you have to have a lot of experience to get to that level.

Hourly Plumbing Salary Explained

When we look at plumber salary from an hourly perspective, we have to take in to consideration a few different factors.  First, lets look at the national, hourly rates that plumbers can expect to earn.  These figures below were taken from PayScale.com (at the time of writing this)…

National Plumber Hourly Pay

-Low $13.49 to $33.09 per hour
-The median plumber salary is around $20/hour
-75% of plumbers make around $26/hour
*Please take into consideration that these figures above represent the national rates and includes both rural and highly populated areas.

Hourly plumbing rates and pay will vary at different geographical locations.  For instance, plumbers will make significantly more money if they’re employed in and/or around densely populated areas.  Large suburban areas such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are good examples, so let’s take a look at what plumber salary looks like in those areas as an example…

  • New York: $25 per hour median
    Range: $15 to $42.96 per hour
  • Chicago: $25 per hour median
    Range: $14 per hour to $44.46
  • Los Angeles: $24 per hour median
    Range: $14 to $42.41 per hour

Again, these figures represent highly populated, dense areas of the country thus raising the hourly pay.  Plumbers who work in rural areas will earn an hourly pay that’s closer to the national median rate of $20 per hour.

More Experience Equals Higher Pay

The next factor that will have a big impact on plumbing salary is a worker’s experience level.  Like any career, the more experience you have, the more money you stand to make.  Below are some general salary and hourly pay ranges for the experience level you’re at.  Generally speaking, “Entry Level” would be during a plumbing apprenticeship or just finished, and “Late Career” would be just a few years from retirement…

  • Entry level: $11.22 to $23.93 per hour
  • Mid-Career: $14.55 to $30.81 per hour
  • Experienced: $15.41 to $35.11 per hour
  • Late Career: $17.20 to $39.95 per hour

Again, other factors such as geographic location and your specific employer’s pay scale should be taken into consideration.  These figures should just act as a guide in giving you a general idea of what you could make working as a plumber.

Can a Plumber Make More?

Of course!  But, that depends largely on your employer and how much you are willing to work.  Two ways that plumbers can earn higher than the average are by working overtime and taking on “side jobs”.

Overtime

Overtime is pretty standard.  Companies that have a surplus of work will often offer overtime to it’s employees, and it’s no different in the plumbing industry.  A standard rate of pay for overtime hours is “time and a half”.

For instance, if you are earning the national average of $20 per hour as a plumber, time and half would pay you $30 per hour…. $20 + $10 (half of your hourly rate)= $30/hour.  Pretty straightforward.  However, not all companies can afford to pay time and a half so this option may not be an option for some.

Side Jobs/Private Work

Another way that you can bump up your plumbing salary is by taking on side jobs, or doing private work.  Before we go any further, always check with your employer first to make sure that you are not violating any company rules or contracts by performing work outside of company hours.  If you do, you could lose your job!Plumber salary varies depending on the area in which you work

With that aside, private work can be a great way for plumbers to not only supplement their salary, but to also get a feel for what it’s like to run their own business.  And, many side jobs can fetch a few hundred dollars for only a few hours work, so it’s well worth your time and effort.

Think of it this way, let’s say your neighbor needs his kitchen sink fixed because it’s leaking underneath.  For a plumber, this is a simple job that can probably be done start to finish in under 2 hours.  It’s not unreasonable for a plumber to charge someone between $100 and $200 to do this, which breaks down to roughly $100/hour or more!  If you perform a side job every other Saturday making $200 per job, that comes out to $4800 more per year!  And that’s just 2 jobs per month at $200 each that cost you under 5 total hours to complete.  There are many other plumbing issues that are more expensive to fix and can fetch a higher price, so keep that in mind.

If we add that to our yearly plumber salary of say, $50,000 per year (mid-level experience), that’s almost a 10% increase in yearly salary.  So as you can see, side jobs and private work can have a big impact for only a small amount of your time.

As we can see from the figures above, there are a handful of factors that have a direct impact on plumber salary.  Geographic location, experience level, the company your work for and your willingness to give up some of your free time to work overtime and/or side jobs are the contributing factors.

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