If you’re looking for a recession-proof career, consider becoming a plumber. After all, people will always need toilets that flush and pipes that don’t leak. And while plumbers need to go through training and apprenticeship to be licensed in most states, they don’t need a college degree, making it an attractive career path for people already handy around the house.

But what does a plumber actually do, and how much money do they make? Here’s what you need to know:

Median Salary

The median annual salary for plumbers is $55,160, with plenty of room for advancement. Plumbers at the top of the scale can earn around $97,170 per year. Plumbers can earn more money in certain parts of the country, with plumbers in Illinois making a mean wage of $86,120 per year and plumbers in Atlanta snagging $90,000. Other top-paying states for plumbers are Alaska ($79,610) and Minnesota ($74,700).

Nationwide, the median hourly wage for plumbers is $26.52.

What Does a Plumber Do?

Plumbers install and fix the pipes that move liquids and gasses into and out of buildings. They can work on heating and cooling; systems that carry water, wastewater, steam, and air; and in some cases, fire control and sprinkler systems. Plumbers work in a variety of settings, from homes and offices to industrial buildings and large-scale public infrastructure.

Does a Plumber Fix Boilers?

Boilers are complex appliances that are beyond the ability of most homeowners to repair on their own. Plumbers are often called in to fix a wide variety of issues with boilers, including leaks and cracks, fluctuations in water temperature, a broken pilot light, and knocking, hissing, and other unusual noises.

Does a Plumber Fix Dishwashers?

Dishwashers can experience many plumbing issues, from poor drainage to problems with the water supply line to water that doesn’t get hot enough. In some cases, homeowners may choose to work with an appliance repair service in order not to void the warranty on their dishwasher. However, there are many common dishwasher problems that plumbers can fix.

Does a Plumber Fix Radiators?

Radiators are part of a home heating system and consist of pipes that move hot air or steam from the boiler to different rooms. Depending on the problem, heating system issues can be handled by HVAC technicians or plumbers. Plumbers are trained to install, repair, and replace hot water and steam radiators. Some of the common radiator problems they fix include leaks, lack of heat, overheating, clogged vents, and unusual noises.

Why Plumbing is a Great Career

Plumbing can be a great blue-collar career choice because it offers the opportunity for a high-paying job and excellent job security without an expensive college degree. In fact, since many plumbers receive on-the-job training through apprenticeship programs, you can actually get paid while you learn.

Once you’re licensed, you can find a job with a construction company, go to work for a public works department, join a trade union, or explore many other types of employment. You also have the option of being your own boss, working flexible hours, and potentially making more money by starting your own independent plumbing business. There’s also plenty of opportunity for advancement if you choose to work your way up to being a master plumber.

Other advantages of being a plumber include a variety of job opportunities and career paths. Plumbers work in all types of settings, both indoors and outdoors. You can work in residential homes or in various types of commercial buildings. You can also choose to specialize in different plumbing systems, from installing commercial waterlines, to working in a citywide wastewater treatment plant, or fixing leaky pipes in a family home.

The top five industries employing plumbers are:

  • Building equipment contractors
  • Utility system construction
  • Nonresidential building construction
  • Local government
  • Employment services

Finally, being a plumber means you can get a job wherever you go. You’re not limited to a specific geographical area; people everywhere need plumbers. In the U.S., California, Texas, New York, Florida, and Illinois have the highest employment for plumbers.

In short, there’s a lot more to being a plumber than plunging clogged toilets. A career in plumbing can offer excellent job security and earning potential in a flexible environment.

Want to learn more about how to earn good money without paying thousands of dollars for school? In my book Blue Collar Cash, I cover many high-earning careers that don’t require a college degree.