Plumber Helper Job Description
A plumber helper, sometimes referred to as a plumber’s assistant, works under licensed plumbers to install plumbing systems, make repairs, and diagnose minor plumbing issues. Plumber helpers ordinarily work eight-hour days and might work day or night shifts. Overtime is possible on occasions where installations or repairs take longer than anticipated to complete. Plumber helpers might also be on-call to assist plumbers in responding to emergency situations during off-hours, such as evenings or weekends. Plumber helpers can work in residential or commercial settings.
Plumber Helper Duties and Responsibilities
While a plumber helper’s day-to-day duties and responsibilities are determined by where they work, there are many core tasks associated with the role. Based on our analysis of job listings, these include:
Make Minor Plumbing Repairs
Under the direction of licensed or master plumbers, plumber helpers make minor repairs such as unclogging toilets or drains, replacing faucets, and fixing leaking pipes. They also install garbage disposals, replace toilet wax rings, and adjust water pressure to homes.
Assist Plumbers with Plumbing System Installations
Plumber helpers work alongside licensed plumbers to install plumbing in new home or commercial construction, replace water heaters, and install tubs/showers. They hold tools, cut piping, connect metal or plastic pipes, and check new installations for leaks.
Perform Preventative Maintenance on Plumbing Systems
It usually falls to plumber helpers to check plumbing systems for any potential problems. They clean drains, check water heaters, run tests on pumps, and clean grease traps for both commercial and residential customers. Plumber helpers keep an updated checklist of preventative maintenance tasks and give a copy to home or business owners.
Clean Up Job Sites
Plumber helpers ensure that job sites are cleared of tools and debris during a job and after its completion. They retrieve discarded pieces of piping, mop up standing water from leaks, and pack away tools.
Plumber Helper Skills and Qualifications
Team players with the ability to follow instructions and who have an interest in working with their hands make successful plumber helpers. The following skills and abilities are also much sought after in candidates for plumber helper positions:
- Mechanical skills – plumber helpers should have strong knowledge of plumbing tools and an understanding of how basic plumbing systems work
- Physical fitness – a great deal of a plumber helper’s day is spent kneeling, crouching, and carrying tools and supplies, and they must be physically fit for this aspect of the job
- Troubleshooting – the ability to detect the causes of leaks and clogs calls for strong troubleshooting skills
- Math skills – plumber helpers must accurately measure and cut piping and determine the amount of materials needed for a job using basic math skills
- Customer service skills – it is important for plumber helpers to make adequate repairs and gain the confidence and loyalty of customers
- Detail oriented – plumber helpers must pay attention to detail, such as using the correct materials to join pipes or ensuring that a water supply is shut off prior to removing sink faucets
- Analytical skills – interpreting schematics and drawings for new plumbing system installations is beneficial for plumber helpers
Tools of the Trade
Plumber helpers must be adept at using the following:
- Hand tools (crimping tool, pipe wrenches, tube cutter, fitting brush)
- Power tools (plumbing snake, compact threader, water pumps)
- Drain/sewer pipe inspection camera
Plumber Helper Education and Training
Aspiring plumber helpers are expected to hold a high school diploma or equivalent. Many complete certificate training programs at local community or vocational colleges to prepare them for plumbing apprenticeships. These programs include hands-on training as well as coursework in mathematics, estimating, building codes, and safety regulations. Plumber helpers can also get into an apprentice program offered by a local pipefitter’s union.
Plumber Helper Salary
So how much do plumber helpers make? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for plumber helpers is nearly $30,000. Those in the 10th percentile make about $21,000, while plumber helpers being paid at the top of the spectrum can realize a yearly salary of close to $46,000.
Plumber helpers working in nonresidential building construction earn a mean annual wage of $39,000, the BLS further reports. Those working in natural gas distribution are paid the highest mean annual wage in this industry, at just over $42,000. Plumber helpers in Alaska ($50,370), Missouri ($43,230), and Hawaii ($41,720) are paid more than these helpers working in other states in the U.S.
Between 2016-2026, the projected employment growth rate for plumber helpers is 19 percent, as stated by the BLS. This is the largest projected growth for any type of construction trade helper in the same period. The continued need for plumber helpers in new construction and existing home repairs is the main reason for this expected increase in the demand for these workers.
Ready to start your trade career as a plumber’s helper? Find out more about what it takes to start working and growing in this profession by reviewing the resources we’ve provided below.
Plumbing – Heating – Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) – online training opportunities. Tradeshows. Conferences. Access to online publications. These are the highlights of being a member of PHCC, which are beneficial to both seasoned plumbers and beginning plumber helpers.
Modern Plumbing, Eighth Edition – a comprehensive, must-read for plumbers and plumber helpers, this book covers everything from job planning to installing various types of plumbing systems. It also contains details about plumbing codes and how to perform plumbing tasks.
Plumbing Contractors of America (PCA) Plumbing Podcast – hear interviews about trends and innovations with leaders in the plumbing industry, such as contractors, plumbing supply manufacturers, and plumbing business owners.
Plumber Magazine – from real-life success stories to customer service and best practice tips, this online publication covers every aspect of working as a plumber or plumber helper.
Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine – this online magazine gives plumbers and plumber helpers the opportunity to read reviews of new products and find out about trends in the industry. Sections of this publication also cover the business end of plumbing, such as marketing and personnel management.
Mr. Rooter Plumbing Blog – while many articles are geared to the homeowner, plumber helpers can get great tips and preventive maintenance ideas by reviewing the posts presented in this blog. Plumbing professionals give info about fixing minor repairs, the need for water softeners, working with PVC pipe, and so much more.
Mathematics for Plumbers and Pipefitters, 8th Edition – applying mathematical knowledge is key for plumber helpers. From calculating pipe length to determining volume, plumber helpers use math on a daily basis, and this book covers what you’ll need to know and how to apply it.
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