A plumber and a plumbing contractor are often seen as a distinction without a difference by the general public with many considering them to be the same. Unlike plumbers, plumbing contractors may be hard to find and are usually referred by homeowners or general contractors. Most homeowners rely on contractors to help plan and build sophisticated plumbing projects for their home.
Plumbing contractors like journeyman plumbers and master plumbers have attended a vocational or trade school. They have at least five years of plumbing experience. But a plumbing contractor only deals with certain types of projects involving new development, remodeling and renovation. A plumber contractor is not the person you would call to unclog your sink. Their job description entails more complex projects that require long-term planning and management.
Small plumbing companies are owned by plumbers and account for 14 percent of the industry. The owner may also be a contractor. Projects for a plumbing contractor would involve a home’s water supply and septic system, waste disposal system, gas connections, water heaters, gas control valves and back flow prevention.
During a home’s planning stages, contractors act as consultants. Plumbing contractors are effective leaders, communicators and problem solvers. They meet with supervisors, homeowners and designers to discuss procedures, designs or construction complaints. They make sure that the project is in compliance with local, state and federal building codes. Commercial projects require plumbing that also complies with federal legislation specifically the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plumbing contractors – not master plumbers – conduct final inspections during the new construction phase.
According to the Minnesota Department of Labor & Industry, effective January 1, 2012, “Master plumbers …will no longer ‘hold’ the license for a plumbing contractor, but rather will be the ‘responsible master’ for the contractor.” Therefore, plumbing contractors must be licensed as business entities contracting to perform plumbing work
The plumber contractor is considered to be at the same professional level as a construction manager. In Dallas, TX, 10 percent of plumbers earn $67,163, 25 percent earn $79,626, 75 percent earn $105,549 and 90 percent earn $116,687. The median annual salary for construction managers is $93,315.
In Dallas, a master plumber (contractor) earns $48,672. A lead plumber/foreman (contractor) earns $44,218 and a general/operations manager (contractor) earns $70,318. Plumbing contractors require a deposit before they start work.
Plumbing contractors may receive bonuses. Vacation pay ranges from 0.9 weeks for 1-4 years of service to1.3 weeks for 20+ years of service. Contractor plumbers are eligible for benefits packages that include paid time off, medical, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability, life insurance and 401(k).
A plumbing contractor is expected to work overtime and on weekends. They are subject to hazardous working conditions like wet floors or dangerous chemicals and they work in extreme weather temperatures outside. They must be able to lift heavy objects of 80 lbs. or more.
The expertise of a licensed plumbing contractor can ensure that the project is completed according to specifications, within budget and on time. Call a plumber for routine repairs. Call a plumbing contractor to remodel your home.
For more information about becoming a plumber, please visit the Plumber Career Portal of Ditch College.
If you would like to read about other jobs that do not require a four year degree, please visit our career portal.