The median annual wage of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $46,660 in May 2010. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,580, and the top 10 percent earned more than $79,920.
The starting pay for apprentices usually is between 30 percent and 50 percent of the rate paid to fully trained plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. They receive pay increases as they become more skilled.
A higher-than-average number of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are union members. The largest organizer of these workers is the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada.
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters work full time, including nights and weekends. They are often on call to handle emergencies, and overtime is common on construction sites to meet completion deadlines. About 14 percent of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were self-employed in 2010. Although self-employed plumbers can set their own schedules, they are also more likely to deal with after-hours emergencies.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition