You may have heard or even stated this yourself, "Plumbers must make as much money as my doctor for God's sake!" While this may be a common perception, it's far from the truth.
In fact, most plumbers go through as an intense if not more intense training period, only to make nearly half of what most doctors make. Why you might ask? Why would a plumber need such training? And if so, why would his or her income not be comparable to that of a doctors?
Plumbers bring skills and experience to your door
Consider this: Your plumber is making a house call, right? Your plumber shows up to your home, in uniform, in a fully stocked truck with all the tools to handle nearly anything your home may throw at him or her. He or she is fully insured from the truck to your door step and also within your home (your most valuable asset). He or she is treating your home's health while ensuring yours at the same time. If your water heater is emitting carbon monoxide, he’ll correct that; if sewer gas is entering the home or a gas line is leaking, he’ll fix that too.
Remember, a plumber can do many things such as repair a faucet, diagnose flow or pressure issues, install, repair or replace any of your gas lines, sewer or indoor and outdoor water systems - the list goes on. The plumber’s skill set must be deeply diverse considering most of your home is made up of plumbing systems and the possible scenarios can be daunting, as no house is built or plumbed the same.
The average home is made up of many plumbing systems: You have waste and vent systems in the walls, below your home and penetrating the roof; gas lines in the attic, walls and at each appliance; water lines snaking through the home and out the street and irrigation; as well as toilets, faucets, water heaters, tubes, valves and pumps. But, because you can't see these systems on a daily basis, out of sight, out of mind is exactly where most of your plumbing falls.
Plumbers offer more than just experience
The plumbing company a plumber is working with must provide a warehouse of parts both on his truck and at the shop location to replenish the truck or for specialty parts. They maintain a detailed data base much like your doctor would. Like your medical record, the company should maintain documentation of each part used, time spent and a detailed description of what was found and done at your home.
The company also most likely provides a 24-hour service ensuring a plumber can be dispatched at a moment’s notice when you need one. When you are sick, will you be going to the doctor or does he come to you? When your car breaks down, does the mechanic show up to your home and get to work?
All in all, I think it's important to remember that the plumber comes to you, saving you the inconvenience of having to drop your home off for a repair. A plumber isn't respected as a doctor due to society’s perception of their trades, therefore the services they render are sometimes under appreciated or undervalued.
If you have ever attempted a plumbing repair yourself, you may have a new appreciation for what your plumber does. Most people will admit that they will never try to tackle that plumbing project again! Hiring the right plumber will ensure you only need him or her every 4-6 years saving you in the long run much like a good doctor. He provides prevention and educates you on how to keep your plumbing system healthy and what symptoms to look out for.
"In what universe would a plumber's education equal a doctors" you ask. Well I'm glad you asked this question it is a very good one. Lets begin with the basics. Most states now require a high school diploma, 4 years of apprenticeship training, 2000 hours of classroom time, 5 years of licensing to obtain a journeyman plumbers license and continuing education units training every 12 to 24 months to maintain a license. Also some states require business classes for their training requirements.
Several years ago the Wall Street Journal ran article about some of the greatests accomplishments of the 20th century. A small article was written about indoor plumbing and how it has promoted good sanitation which lead to better health through waste control due to modern plumbing.