Why do plumbers get paid so well?

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tc101
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Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by tc101 » Fri May 17, 2019 2:18 pm

I am thinking of recommending that a young friend become a plumber.

Where I live in the Atlanta suburbs I pay:

$15-$20/hr for unskilled yard work with no tools
$35/hr for a good handy man
$140 for the first hour and then $45/hr for an electrician
$160/hr for a plumber

My question - Why do plumbers make so much? I would think that just based on economic laws, more people would train to be plumbers and that would drive the rates down. I would think that it would require more training to be an electrician than a plumber, but
electricians make less. What are the economic forces that keep rates so high for plumbers?
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adamthesmythe
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by adamthesmythe » Fri May 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Because it can be dirty, disgusting work?

Also...there's often a certain urgency to plumbing work that isn't associated with electrical work.

Next time you have somebody in to replace the main trap...maybe shadow them for a day...think about whether this would be an attractive career move.
Last edited by adamthesmythe on Fri May 17, 2019 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Fri May 17, 2019 2:23 pm

Priced a mason lately?
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by SrGrumpy » Fri May 17, 2019 2:25 pm

tc101 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:18 pm
I am thinking of recommending that a young friend become a plumber.

Where I live in the Atlanta suburbs I pay:

$160/hr for a plumber

My question - Why do plumbers make so much? I would think that just based on economic laws, more people would train to be plumbers and that would drive the rates down. I would think that it would require more training to be an electrician than a plumber, but
electricians make less. What are the economic forces that keep rates so high for plumbers?
That's twice what I pay for my excellent plumber in Los Angeles. But yeah, spending one's waking hours in filth has little appeal to most people.

Thesaints
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Thesaints » Fri May 17, 2019 2:25 pm

A google engineer makes close 200k at start. Why are they paid so well ?

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cheese_breath
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by cheese_breath » Fri May 17, 2019 2:26 pm

Have you ever tried squeezing into some of the places plumbers do every day doing their job? Just in doing some minor plumbing fixes in the house I know my back could never take it day after day.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.

Hockey10
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Hockey10 » Fri May 17, 2019 2:32 pm

The last time I had a plumber at the house, he charged $150/hour, so I am close to the OP's rate. He is the only plumber in a Mom & Pop shop, so we get the same guy every time. He is excellent.

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queso
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by queso » Fri May 17, 2019 2:39 pm

I replaced a sewage ejection pump in a below grade basement a few years ago. I bet a lot of people would pay decent money to not have to do that job. :happy

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Raymond
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Raymond » Fri May 17, 2019 2:40 pm

Thesaints wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:25 pm
A google engineer makes close 200k at start. Why are they paid so well ?
And a good plumber contributes much more to society :happy
Last edited by Raymond on Fri May 17, 2019 2:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tycoon
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Tycoon » Fri May 17, 2019 2:41 pm

Thesaints wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:25 pm
A google engineer makes close 200k at start. Why are they paid so well ?
Because through their labor they can help Google earn multiples of that number. Otherwise they are waste.
Emotionless, prognostication free investing. Ignoring the noise and economists since 1979. I see the world as it is; not how I wish it to be.

Bacchus01
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Bacchus01 » Fri May 17, 2019 2:41 pm

tc101 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:18 pm
I am thinking of recommending that a young friend become a plumber.

Where I live in the Atlanta suburbs I pay:

$15-$20/hr for unskilled yard work with no tools
$35/hr for a good handy man
$140 for the first hour and then $45/hr for an electrician
$160/hr for a plumber

My question - Why do plumbers make so much? I would think that just based on economic laws, more people would train to be plumbers and that would drive the rates down. I would think that it would require more training to be an electrician than a plumber, but
electricians make less. What are the economic forces that keep rates so high for plumbers?
You realize that’s not what they get paid, right? They have years of apprenticeship behind the education. Then they have tools that are specialized, travel time, insurance, etc.

Jags4186
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Jags4186 » Fri May 17, 2019 2:42 pm

A close family friend is a retired plumber. He loved to tell this story about when he would go to his kids career day in middle school he would tell the class that he’s just a plumber, never went to college, and all he has is 2 Cadillacs, a Corvette, and 3 houses. Had he went to college maybe he would have had 3 Cadillacs and 4 houses.

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G12
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by G12 » Fri May 17, 2019 2:48 pm

"$160/hr for a plumber"

As an aside, Greenlee Plumbing came out to my house in Cobb county about 4 weeks ago and did about 2.5 hours of work, + drive time, did a very nice job and it was $212. Evidently Cobb water system is corroding copper pipe these days. Give them a try for better pricing.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by WhiteMaxima » Fri May 17, 2019 2:54 pm

I spend an hr work last evening through my plugged kitchen plumbing system. Got a lot complimentary from my DW. get a reward of nice T-shirt. Saving us $450 based on quote from "discount plumber.

knightrider
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by knightrider » Fri May 17, 2019 2:55 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:23 pm
Because it can be dirty, disgusting work?
By this reasoning, ordinary cleaning staff would also get paid high salaries..

Seasonal
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Seasonal » Fri May 17, 2019 2:59 pm

Supply and demand is the classic answer to market pricing. Bargaining power is quite relevant.

knightrider
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by knightrider » Fri May 17, 2019 2:59 pm

Tycoon wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:41 pm
Because through their labor they can help Google earn multiples of that number. Otherwise they are waste.
Maybe I'm cynical but I don't think our "unique skills" are what makes us valuable. It's more about social class and where we fit in.. I think these 200k google engineers would struggle to earn $10/hour in the open market as freelancers competing with $5/hour Indians and Russians..

Plumbers probably earn so much because they have been around a long time in this country and have organized their trade well.

barnaclebob
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by barnaclebob » Fri May 17, 2019 3:01 pm

knightrider wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:55 pm
adamthesmythe wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:23 pm
Because it can be dirty, disgusting work?
By this reasoning, ordinary cleaning staff would also get paid high salaries..
Moderately to highly skilled dirty disgusting work then.

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Kenkat
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Kenkat » Fri May 17, 2019 3:02 pm

It’s a skilled trade and when plumbing work goes bad, it often goes bad in a particularly spectacular way. As others have said, it takes time to build that skill through apprentice, journeyman and master skill levels.

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greg24
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by greg24 » Fri May 17, 2019 3:02 pm

A combination of skilled labor and unsavory working conditions.

staythecourse
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by staythecourse » Fri May 17, 2019 3:03 pm

All I can say is if someone did not want to go to college I would have NO problem suggesting being a plumber. Be a plumber, do only after hour calls, and advertise a TON and there you go plenty of $$$$. Take some courses at CC in accounting then start hiring other plumbers and start a business.

As a physician if I take a phone call and go see a patient at 2AM at the hospital I don't make any more money. If you are a plumber you can charge WHATEVER you want ?2x a during hours call.

Good luck.
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barnaclebob
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by barnaclebob » Fri May 17, 2019 3:04 pm

knightrider wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:59 pm
Tycoon wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:41 pm
Because through their labor they can help Google earn multiples of that number. Otherwise they are waste.
Maybe I'm cynical but I don't think our "unique skills" are what makes us valuable. It's more about social class and where we fit in.. I think these 200k google engineers would struggle to earn $10/hour in the open market as freelancers competing with $5/hour Indians and Russians..

Plumbers probably earn so much because they have been around a long time in this country and have organized their trade well.
On a per task basis they might not be able to earn much more than lower wage competitors on the open market but having knowledge of the system architecture that they work on as a whole is extremely valuable and difficult to replace constantly. If specialized groups within a company hit a critical mass of turnover it can set them back years.

knightrider
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by knightrider » Fri May 17, 2019 3:08 pm

staythecourse wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:03 pm
If you are a plumber you can charge WHATEVER you want ?2x a during hours call.
I doubt they can do this unless they want their reputation ruined with a bunch of 1-star social media reviews!

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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by finfire » Fri May 17, 2019 3:12 pm

have you tried living without water? Doesn't last long....

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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by DesertDiva » Fri May 17, 2019 3:18 pm

greg24 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:02 pm
A combination of skilled labor and unsavory working conditions.
Plus the fact that plumbers aren’t being outsourced!

mmmodem
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by mmmodem » Fri May 17, 2019 3:20 pm

I don't know why plumbers get paid so much and I refuse to pay for it. That's why I do my own plumbing work. I do leave the electrical work to electricians though. I'm comfortable doing the work but if I do a poor job with the pipes, I get a leak. Bad electrical could spark a fire.

At my work, clients pay upwards of $500 per labor hour. The employee only gets $15.

rj342
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by rj342 » Fri May 17, 2019 3:21 pm

Tycoon wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:41 pm
Thesaints wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:25 pm
A google engineer makes close 200k at start. Why are they paid so well ?
Because through their labor they can help Google earn multiples of that number. Otherwise they are waste.
From what I've been reading, sounds like a lot of them ARE waste -- AdSense just makes so much money (with relatively few involved with the core fo that) that a lot of un- or less profitable applications can get by.

Big Dog
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Big Dog » Fri May 17, 2019 3:23 pm

Two words: supply & demand.

rj342
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by rj342 » Fri May 17, 2019 3:25 pm

Replacing faucets on a small lavatory sink was a giant PITA, trying to work upside down and use that odd offset wrench to get the mounting nuts in the gap between the bowl of the sink and the wall. Lots of cussing.

OTOH toilet parts no biggie.

I have no problem w minor electrical - light fixtures, ceiling fans, switches and outlets.

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Kenkat
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Kenkat » Fri May 17, 2019 3:27 pm

mmmodem wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:20 pm
I don't know why plumbers get paid so much and I refuse to pay for it. That's why I do my own plumbing work. I do leave the electrical work to electricians though. I'm comfortable doing the work but if I do a poor job with the pipes, I get a leak. Bad electrical could spark a fire.

At my work, clients pay upwards of $500 per labor hour. The employee only gets $15.
Interesting, I tend to be just the opposite...comfortable with electric, less so with plumbing, though I will do the basic stuff like hooking up faucets, sinks, etc.

miamivice
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by miamivice » Fri May 17, 2019 3:31 pm

There is a lot of comical answers to a serious question. Let's try to be serious about it.

Anytime you hire a company, the hourly rate per worker is high. The company has to pay for workers compensation, training, licensing, and most important, are liable to do the job right. In the case of plumbing, a slow leak that goes unnoticed can result in a big claim against the company.

In my area, mechanics (at garages) charge $130 an hour, handyman (that work for a company) charge $90/hr per worker. I don't know what plumbers charge specifically. Most firms though charge huge rates per person for costs.

Atilla
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Atilla » Fri May 17, 2019 3:31 pm

Plumbers also come with a truck full of tools and materials that had to be paid for before work even starts. Common laborers don't have to make that investment to do their jobs.
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AerialWombat
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by AerialWombat » Fri May 17, 2019 3:35 pm

Kenkat wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:27 pm
Interesting, I tend to be just the opposite...comfortable with electric, less so with plumbing, though I will do the basic stuff like hooking up faucets, sinks, etc.
Same here. I was a wire-biter in a previous life, so no issue doing just about any household electrical task. But plumbing? Not on your life, I know what I suck at, and I suck at plumbing. Happily pay $200/hr.
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SevenBridgesRoad
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by SevenBridgesRoad » Fri May 17, 2019 3:38 pm

Dad always said, only three things determine how much you get paid: What you do, how well you do it, and how easy you are to replace.
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by neilpilot » Fri May 17, 2019 3:38 pm

mmmodem wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:20 pm
I don't know why plumbers get paid so much and I refuse to pay for it. That's why I do my own plumbing work. I do leave the electrical work to electricians though. I'm comfortable doing the work but if I do a poor job with the pipes, I get a leak. Bad electrical could spark a fire.
In my area plumbers also handle natural gas lines.......just saying

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Dialectical Investor
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Dialectical Investor » Fri May 17, 2019 3:42 pm

Applied math can pay well. Plumbers are vocational geometers and topologists.

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LiveSimple
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by LiveSimple » Fri May 17, 2019 3:43 pm

Our plumber charges by every 15 minute increments.

Ping Pong
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Ping Pong » Fri May 17, 2019 3:50 pm

They don’t get paid while they’re waiting for you to call them.

renue74
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by renue74 » Fri May 17, 2019 3:57 pm

I have 10 rental properties have have worked with many plumbers over the years. I have a close relationship with one and we discussed the profession.

For every 10 plumbers retiring, 4 are entering the industry....which will make it even more difficult to find a cheap plumber in the next few decades.

I've plumbed a whole rental house before...with a 30" crawl space. It's not fun and after you crawl so much, your body aches in places you didn't know it could ache.

I have a total gut job rehab I'm working on now and got 3 plumbing quotes for whole house repipe. One was $3500, one was $3300 and one was $6900.

I see the $3300 quote as a "deal," because I honestly don't want to do it. It's just not something most people want to do.

On a side note, I've tried to steer my 16 old son into plumbing. His grades are "OK," but not great. I told him he could go to the local tech school and work for a large plumber for a couple years to make sure of the choice....and then I would set him up with a plumbing business as a not so silent business partner. ..... he declined. :)

Glockenspiel
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Glockenspiel » Fri May 17, 2019 3:57 pm

tc101 wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:18 pm
I am thinking of recommending that a young friend become a plumber.

Where I live in the Atlanta suburbs I pay:

$15-$20/hr for unskilled yard work with no tools
$35/hr for a good handy man
$140 for the first hour and then $45/hr for an electrician
$160/hr for a plumber

My question - Why do plumbers make so much? I would think that just based on economic laws, more people would train to be plumbers and that would drive the rates down. I would think that it would require more training to be an electrician than a plumber, but
electricians make less. What are the economic forces that keep rates so high for plumbers?
Even if a going rate for a plumber is $160/hour, realize that the plumber's wages are likely in the vicinity of $40/hour, unless they're the owner. The rest is eaten up by overhead, insurance, supplies, materials, training, profit, and un-utilized time. Doing plumbing work in existing homes is some of the most frustrating DIY work a person can attempt to do. Small spaces, can't fit your hands in the right spot, extending pipes that are too short, in small spaces, work that many others don't want to do (even though one can avoid exposure to sewer gases if you maintain water in the P-trap).

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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Fri May 17, 2019 4:18 pm

Any time I have needed a plumber to do something I couldn't do myself, I never felt overcharged.

There have been several times that I would have been willing to pay a pretty steep upcharge to get one to the job sooner than he could make it.

eucalyptus
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by eucalyptus » Fri May 17, 2019 4:25 pm

OP, Atlanta and many other places are experiencing explosions of construction. A qualified tradesman can almost name his or her price.

If you are in the construction business, you develop great respect for carpenters, plumbers and electricians who are experienced and have a good work ethic. They’re professionals, just like lawyers, accountants and others.

“Plumbing” is very often more than a leaky faucet, and that “more” sometimes takes years of experience to handle.
Last edited by eucalyptus on Fri May 17, 2019 4:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

JimMolony
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by JimMolony » Fri May 17, 2019 4:26 pm

I remember asking my dentist why it costs $500 for 30 minutes of work. Her response: I can spend more time in your mouth if you want.

Your paying for education, training, experience and getting the job done right.

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One Ping
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by One Ping » Fri May 17, 2019 5:58 pm

This reminds me of an old joke ...
There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. Finally, at the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and said, "This is where your problem is." The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges. The engineer responded briefly: One chalk mark $1; Knowing where to put it $49,999. It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.
Insert the profession/trade of your choice.
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international001
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by international001 » Fri May 17, 2019 6:16 pm

Atilla wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:31 pm
Plumbers also come with a truck full of tools and materials that had to be paid for before work even starts. Common laborers don't have to make that investment to do their jobs.
did you calculate how expensive it is their investment, and its ROI. I'd doubt enough to justify a huge hourly rate.

So many opinions.. Do we have any real data? I was never ask for huge amounts of $, but some plumbers have tricked me into paying extra.

https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Jo ... ourly_Rate

GCD
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by GCD » Fri May 17, 2019 6:17 pm

Ping Pong wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 3:50 pm
They don’t get paid while they’re waiting for you to call them.
Neither do lawyers.

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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by RetiredAL » Fri May 17, 2019 6:18 pm

One Ping wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 5:58 pm
This reminds me of an old joke ...
There was an engineer who had an exceptional gift for fixing all things mechanical. After serving his company loyally for over 30 years, he happily retired. Several years later the company contacted him regarding a seemingly impossible problem they were having with one of their multi-million dollar machines. They had tried everything and everyone else to get the machine to work but to no avail. In desperation, they called on the retired engineer who had solved so many of their problems in the past. The engineer reluctantly took the challenge. He spent a day studying the huge machine. Finally, at the end of the day, he marked a small "x" in chalk on a particular component of the machine and said, "This is where your problem is." The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly again. The company received a bill for $50,000 from the engineer for his service. They demanded an itemized accounting of his charges. The engineer responded briefly: One chalk mark $1; Knowing where to put it $49,999. It was paid in full and the engineer retired again in peace.
Insert the profession/trade of your choice.
Been there. Done that.

I worked as a Manufacturing Engineer along with several other engineers. We on occassion submitted a dummy invoice under D.A.R.E ( Dana, Al, Ray Engineering ) or
MAD Engineering ( Marc, Al , Dana ), usually in response to mgmt badly missing what was causing the production losses.

You've brought back some great memories.

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One Ping
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by One Ping » Fri May 17, 2019 6:22 pm

RetiredAL wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 6:18 pm
You've brought back some great memories.
:sharebeer
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IngognitoUSA
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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by IngognitoUSA » Fri May 17, 2019 7:11 pm

High barriers to entry. You have to work under a licensed plumber for 5 years before you can be a licensed plumber. They only take their family and buddies for apprenticeship. Keeping it to themselves.
You need less training to write code for NASA.

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Re: Why do plumbers get paid so well?

Post by Godot » Fri May 17, 2019 7:16 pm

Thesaints wrote:
Fri May 17, 2019 2:25 pm
A google engineer makes close 200k at start. Why are they paid so well ?
Ditto most lawyers.
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