Employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is projected to grow 12 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.
Demand for plumbers will stem from new building construction and stricter efficiency standards for plumbing systems, such as low-flow toilets and water heaters. The construction and retrofitting of power plants and factories should spur demand for pipefitters and steamfitters. Employment of sprinklerfitters is expected to increase as states continue to adopt changes to building codes that require use of fire suppression systems.
Overall job opportunities are expected to be good, with some employers continuing to report difficulty finding qualified workers. In addition, many plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are expected to retire over the next 10 years, resulting in more job openings. Workers with knowledge of Building Information Modeling (BIM) should have the best job opportunities as integrated building-planning abilities increase in demand. In addition, workers with military service experience are viewed favorably during initial hiring.
As with other construction workers, employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.
However, maintenance and repair of plumbing and pipe systems must continue even during economic downturns, so plumbers and fitters outside of construction, especially those in manufacturing, tend to have more stable employment.
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters
Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters
Construction trades workers
Total, all occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program