Whether you want to build a new house or replace an existing home’s plumbing system, you’re certainly going to seek the services of a plumbing contractor. He or she will oversee the installation of pipes, valves and other fittings designed to distribute water, gas, heating or waste.
1. What Do Plumbing Contractors Do?
In detail, their duties include:
- Securing plumbing contractors – this involves submitting contract bids to individuals or companies that are ready to initiate construction projects
- Negotiating the cost of contracts with project owners
- Securing necessary plumbing permits on behalf of the clients
- Reading construction blueprints to determine the type, quality and quantity of plumbing materials required for the job
- Purchasing all the necessary plumbing materials and delivering them to the projects
- Hiring plumbers, piper fitters and other specialists to execute various plumbing tasks
- Supervising these workers, ensuring plumbing systems are installed according to structural specifications
- Keeping the construction manager or project owners updated on work progress
- Undertaking any subsequent maintenance work.
Importantly, plumbing contactors must have registered businesses. Depending on the nature and scale of work, they can perform the plumbing tasks individually, hire plumbing specialists to do the job or subcontract the work.
2. Work Environment
Although plumbing contractors usually work from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, they can work overtime and over the weekends to beat tight project deadlines.
When they don’t have any ongoing work, you can find them at their business premises. When there is work, they spend most of their time on project sites doing the installations or supervising their employees.
According to Simply Hired, the average plumbing contractors make about $49,000 annually. There are, however, some big time contractors who secure multimillion dollar contracts.
4. Entry Requirements
If you have your sights on becoming a plumbing contractor, then you will have to begin by becoming a plumber. To do so, you can either:
- Join a plumbing apprenticeship program, or
- Pursue an associate degree in plumbing technology or plumbing engineering.
Many states regulate the plumbing profession, so your next step is to get licensed as a plumber. This will enable you to find work with an established plumbing company or utility services providers in your state, gain professional experience and, crucially, raise the capital you need to start a plumbing company.
5. Career Development
When you are ready to become a plumbing contractor, you will need to review you state’s registration and/or licensing requirements for plumbing contractors. Requirements vary by state but generally include:
- Submitting information about the physical location and ownership structure of your plumbing business to the state’s board of licensing contractors
- Being an active holder of a plumbing license
- Proving to the board that your business is insured, and that you’re financially responsible.
Once you’re issued the plumbing contractor license, you are ready to start hunting for you first contract and embark on the journey of growing your business.
Be sure to register your business with the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association. The association will help your business to gain more visibility to customers and comply with relevant codes among other benefits.
6. Important Qualities
To be a successful plumbing contractor, you need:
- Excellent business skills to price your services competently
- Skills in personnel management
- Strong customer-service skills
- Strong blueprint reading skills
- Skills in contract bidding
- Strong negotiation skills
- Good communication skills
- An understanding of federal and state plumbing laws and standards
- Good problem-solving skills
- An aptitude for practical work
- Good technical skills
- Good marketing skills
- Good level of physical fitness
- An awareness of construction health and safety issues.
7. Industry Outlook
According to IBIS World, a US-based research company, tighter green building regulations and rapidly growing housing markets will drive the demand for plumbing services within the coming years.
So if you aspire to start a plumbing company and thereby become a plumbing contractor, you are staring at a profitable venture. Good luck!