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Plumbing contractors: industry overview and trends to watch

What to expect in job growth, technology and regulatory activity

plumber sweating and soldering a copper pipe with a torch

A high-level look at the plumbing profession


Plumbing contractors encompass a wide range of professionals and generally include anyone who installs or repairs pipes that carry liquids or gases. Plumbing contractors work in both residential and commercial settings and are often on call at all hours for situations such as leaks or pipe bursts that require immediate attention to prevent serious, long-term damage.


Typical residential tasks for plumbing contractors can include fixing leaking pipes, installing sinks and toilets, and repairing or replacing water heaters and water conditioning equipment. On the commercial side, plumbing tasks can include residential-type plumbing jobs (e.g., installing bathroom fixtures), mechanical services, sprinkler system installations and repairs, steamfitting and pipe services, and lawn sprinkler system maintenance.


In most instances, plumbing contractors will complete an apprenticeship or a technical school program in order to gain experience. In terms of certification, most states and cities require plumbers to be licensed.1


Plumbing businesses can range in size and include entrepreneurial individuals working for themselves, small independent businesses and large national operations. There are also plumbing franchises that are independently owned with set territories.


When it comes to industry classification, plumbers will fall1 under a larger group of artisan or specialty contractors in one of two ways


Industry outlook and trends


Overall, the plumbing industry is growing and doesn't show signs of slowing down any time soon. There will always be a need for this trade, which is evident when you consider that there were 121,876 plumbing businesses and 518,031 industry jobs by the end of 2019, and revenue was approximately $113 billion.2


However, it should be noted that plumbing contractors are a part of larger construction trends. This means that an economic downturn affecting the construction industry would have a significant impact on plumbers.


Here are some other industry trends and considerations of note.


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The plumbing contractor job outlook is estimated to increase 14% over the next 10 years.3

Insights on major lines of coverage


Exposures, precautions and lines of coverage that may apply in the plumbing industry.

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Recommended lines of coverage: general liability, inland marine, property, workers' compensation, and commercial auto


1 "NCCER Craft Licensing Map," nccer.org/workforce-development-programs/reciprocity-map (accessed Feb 25, 2020).

2 "Plumbers Industry in the US - Market Research Report," ibisworld.com/united-states/market-research-reports/plumbers-industry/ (accessed Feb 25, 2020).

3 "Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters," bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/plumbers-pipefitters-and-steamfitters.htm (Sept. 4, 2019).

4 "Top Plumbing Technology Trends for 2019," blueandgreentomorrow.com/lifestyle/top-plumbing-technology-trends-for-2019 (Oct. 22, 2019).

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