Plumber Job Description

  • Plumber job descriptionPlumbers earn an average of $21.94 per hour, making them one of the highest paid construction jobs
  • Plumbing jobs often require on call availability for emergencies on nights and weekends
  • Most states require plumbers to be licensed

What do plumbers do?

Anyone who has faced a busted pipe or broken toilet will tell you that plumbers are heroes. Plumbers install and repair water supply lines, waste disposal systems, and related appliances and fixtures to keep homes and businesses flowing smoothly.

Being a plumber is physically demanding. Strength, stamina, and an ability to work in a variety of environments are all assets you'll need before you decide to pick up a pipe wrench. Repairing a faucet in a plush office restroom while smooth jazz wafts over the intercom may sound like a sweet gig, but you might also spend your morning wedged in a frigid crawl space fixing a broken drainage line. It all needs to get done, and there is some serious compensation available for the people who are willing (and able) to do it.

Unless it's for scheduled maintenance or installation, people who need plumbers usually need them right away. The good news is that urgency makes for excellent job security; the bad news is you might work more than 40 hours per week and be on call for nights and weekends. If you want a career with less potential for late hours, try pipelaying, pipefitting, sprinklerfitting and steamfitting, skilled trades often grouped with plumbing. These jobs require similar skills, but frequently offer more regularly scheduled hours.

How much do plumbers make?

The average salary for plumbing workers is $21.94 per hour. Apprentice plumbers can expect to earn around half the pay rate of a more experienced plumber in their area (with pay increases as their skills develop). Earnings also depend on the plumbing specialty; plumbers employed by their local government make about $20 per hour, while plumbers working in natural gas distribution take home an average of $26.27 per hour. Approximately one third of all plumbers, pipefitters, pipelayers, sprinklerfitters, and steamfitters employed in the United States belong to a union.

Education requirements

Training for plumbing jobs is available from trade schools, community colleges, and on the job as a plumbing apprentice. Apprenticeships typically span four to five years; involve paid on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of classroom time per year.

Though requirements vary by location, two to five years of experience and successful completion of a test covering trade knowledge and local code is usually necessary before a license will be issued allowing a plumber to work independently.

Career paths for plumbers

Many experienced plumbers choose to go into business for themselves; others become contractors. If you would like to be a supervisor or contractor, being familiar with Spanish will give you an edge communicating with a workforce increasingly made up of Spanish-speaking workers. Plumbers can also earn 'green' trade certifications to pursue opportunities with environmentally friendly companies.

The future of plumbing workers

The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) expects faster than average growth in plumbing positions over the 2008-2018 decade. Many current plumbers, pipelayers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are expected to retire over the next decade, and some employers are already reporting a shortage of qualified applicants in the plumbing field. Skilled plumbers, particularly those with welding experience or environmentally friendly certifications, are well-positioned to be in demand.

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HVAC Worker Job Description

HVAC job descriptionHow much do HVAC workers make?

  • $15 to $25 per hour
  • Around $43,000 average salary for full-time positions
Take Note
  • Requires formal training and/or apprenticeship
  • Job opportunities are growing quickly

Your talents keep people warm and toasty in mid-winter, or comfortably cool in the hottest of summer heat waves. As if wielding this kind of power isn't reward enough on its own, you are well paid to keep grateful populace comfortable.

Sound like an egocentric pipedream? No way– for heating, ventilation and air conditioning professionals (HVAC) workers that's just the daily grind. From installing the machines and ducts that keep comfortable air flowing through buildings to maintaining those vital systems, HVAC professionals do the work that lets everyone else go about their day without sweating or freezing.

Job Skills & Requirements

Education: HVAC training is available at community colleges, trade schools and through some military positions. Paid apprenticeships are standard in the HVAC industry and apprentices are usually paid approximately half the rate of more experienced HVAC professionals in their area.

Mechanical skill: Whether you specialize in installation or repair, you'll need to be good with machines, comfortable with electrical work and handy with a variety of tools.

Endurance: Remember how you're providing comfort to the eager masses? Well, unfortunately that means that while you're working at a job site, it's often uncomfortably hot or cold. You'll frequently be working in cramped conditions installing and repairing duct work and related appliances. Safety gear will be needed for working around insulation and hazardous materials.

Hours: Most HVAC companies operate during normal business hours throughout the week, and you can expect to work about 40 hours per week on average. On-call availability may be required for emergencies on nights and weekends.

Dress the Part: Some employers distribute uniforms; others have a standard dress code. Either way you should plan ahead– wear layers and be prepared, no matter what temperatures you're dealing with that day.

Job Myth

“I'll just be fixing heat pumps all day.”

Most technicians are trained in both maintenance and installation, but even if you choose to pursue maintenance there are many different kinds of mechanical and electrical components involved in heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. On the other hand, if you specialize in installation you'll be on construction and renovation sites installing new systems and running duct work.

Career Paths

  • Home appliance repair (Averages $40,700/year)
  • Sheet metal worker (Averages $51,000/year)

Similar Positions

Electrician, Sheet metal worker, Home appliance repair

Extra Perks

  • Paid apprenticeship
  • Never again panicking when your A.C. unit breaks down

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Forklift Driver Job Description

Forklift driver job descriptionJob highlights

  • On average, forklift drivers make around $15 per hour
  • An experienced forklift driver can make up to $20 per hour
  • You'll need to get a certification to drive a forklift

What do forklift drivers do?

Forklift operators drive around forklifts (shocker, we know), moving materials around warehouses, storage yards, factories, construction sites and other work sites The machine itself has a hydraulic lifting mechanism, and forks for moving heavy and large objects. It's a fork that lifts things - get it?

Working a job like this might seem easy, but the work can be very repetitive. Driving a forklift isn't all cake, roses, and gas pedals. It's going to be hard work. Not everything can be lifted with a forklift, so you may have to carry heavy objects and stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl in awkward positions.

You might be outside in extreme temperatures, and depending on what kind of materials you're moving, you could be around fumes, odors, loud noises or harmful chemicals. Most forklift drivers work 8-hour (or longer) shifts, but that doesn’t mean the job is a nine-to-fiver. In places where customers are around, most forklift work is done after hours. In 24-hour warehouses, shifts can be around the clock.

Operating a forklift is considered a "hazardous occupation," according to the Fair Labor Standards Act. As with any big machine, accidents happen. They can, however, usually be avoided by observing proper operating procedures and safety practices. You'll need to be constantly vigilant and aware of your surroundings to keep yourself and your co-workers safe.

How much do forklift drivers make?

The average hourly pay for all forklift drivers is around $15 per hour, but will vary by experience and location. Skill level is the biggest differentiator in pay. The longer you've been on the job, the closer you'll get to that $20 per hour mark.

What are the education requirements?

For most forklift driver positions, you'll need to be at least 18 years old to get the job. Most employers will prefer that you have a high school diploma or GED. Depending on what kind of warehouse you'll be working in, you may need additional certification on how to handle toxic chemicals or dangerous equipment. Most training requirements are going to be the same across the board because of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). They have a really, really long list of rules that the employer must comply with in order to allow you to drive a forklift. Training is usually provided by the employer, and will be reoccurring. Your employers will have to provide proof to the government that you've received the training and been evaluated at least once every 3 years.

Career paths for forklift drivers

To start from scratch (if you've never been behind the wheel of a forklift) you'll have to get some experience in a warehouse associate or material moving position before being promoted to a better paying and more highly skilled job. If you're a stud behind the wheel, you may eventually advance to become a supervisor or manager.

The future of forklift driver jobs

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), job opportunities for fork lift drivers are not going to be growing. If you're looking for a job with lots of growth potential, this just isn't it. Improvements in equipment and processes will continue to reduce the demand for forklift drivers. On the bright side, there's still some potential in warehouse forklift positions in retail and other growing industries.

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Electrician Job Description

Electrician job descriptionElectrician job highlights

  • Electricians earn an average of $22.32 per hour
  • Maintenance electricians are sometimes required to be on call for emergencies
  • Most states require electricians to be licensed

What do electricians do?

If you've ever lost power you already know that without electricians, we'd all spend our nights playing board games by candlelight. Sure, it's entertaining to "rough it" for a little while, but going without conveniences like air conditioning, lights, and our electronic gadgets gets very old, very fast. Electricians are the people who keep us plugged into the conveniences of modern life.

Electricians read blueprints, solve complex math problems and install electrical systems (all while adhering to numerous electrical and building codes). If you enjoy exercising your brain while working with your hands, then a job as an electrician may be right for you! Just keep in mind that if you're accident prone you may want to think twice about a career in electricity; electricians have a higher than average rate of work-related injury.

Due to extensive job training, most electricians are qualified to choose among a variety of work environments including construction, electrical maintenance, commercial, residential and contracting.

How much do electricians make?

Electrical workers make an average of $22.32 per hour. Apprentice electricians start out earning 30 to 50 percent of the salary of an experienced electrician in their area, with periodic pay increases matching their skill development. Earnings also depend on specialty; electric power generation, transmission and distribution specialists take home almost $29 per hour, while nonresidential building construction electricians can expect to make closer to $22 per hour.

Approximately one third of electricians employed in the United States belong to a union, most often the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

What are the education requirements?

Training to become an electrician usually takes about four years and involves an apprenticeship that combines on-the-job training and classes. Apprenticeship programs are typically sponsored by either electrical contracting companies, local chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors or the Independent Electrical Contractors Association. Apprentices are required to have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.).

All electricians should expect to maintain current knowledge of the National Electric Code throughout their careers. Additional training may also be required to cover specific topics that apply to individual branches of the electrical trade.

Career paths for electricians

Experienced electricians can become supervisors, project managers or construction superintendents. If you are interested in advancing an electrical career in construction, being familiar with Spanish will give you an edge communicating with a workforce increasingly made up of Spanish-speaking workers. Electricians can choose to pursue additional training as master electricians, particularly if they are interested in becoming contractors. Solar, wind and other alternative energy training is also increasingly available for those who want to specialize in "green" electrical jobs.

The future of electrical workers

The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) forecasts average growth in electrical positions over the 2008-2018 decade. Maintenance electricians are less subject to layoffs and slow seasonal hours than those working in construction and manufacturing, but as more commercial industries turn to automated systems there will be an increased demand for electricians to install and maintain wiring. Electricians who specialize in environmentally friendly technology will also enjoy new job opportunities as public and private building owners invest in energy saving measures.

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