WACO, TX — The plumbing and pipe fitting industry has always been an essential business, especially during a pandemic.
The big problem is filling the position of a master plumber, to achieve that title takes about 8 years and thousands of hours of training. Those with that title currently are retiring faster than new plumbers entering the industry.
TSTC Campus Department Chair for the plumbing and pipe fitting program, Jimmy Bibb, who is a master plumber himself says he has seen this problem continue for many years.
"It never dies down, the more I talk to employees in our industry, it seems that they're hurting," Bibb said.
In an article from TSTC, Paul Abrams, public relations director of Cincinnati-based Roto-Rooter Services Co., says it can also be a geographical issue when it comes to hiring and their regulations.
"Even larger municipalities have a separate set of rules that must be followed," Abrams said. "Some places are known as 'restricted markets,' meaning only a licensed plumber can do any type of plumbing work beyond sewer and drain cleaning. Even experienced apprentice plumbers aren't permitted to turn a wrench in restricted markets unless they're accompanied by a license holder at the job site. This makes it tough because, with licensed plumbers in such short supply, we simply can't hire enough of them at any price."
TSTC student Aaron Duffy knew he's wanted to be a plumber for some time and he's working toward his Master Plumbers license.
"I am definitely going to achieve my master's plumbers license it's going to take a very very long time," Duffy said. "I mean from apprentice to journeymen it's about 8,000 working hours and so currently I'm sitting at about a thousand hours."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas ranks second in the nation for the most employed plumbers pipe and steamfitters. Although, a shortage is continuing and more jobs are becoming available each year. By 2028 they predict more than 500,000 jobs will be needed to be filled in the industry.
TSTC is working to fill those jobs through regular and accelerated course work. There is a new program called the Occupational Skills Award (OSA) which is between a seven and a half to a 15-week program to get those who want a job in a certain industry, there quicker.
Plumbing and Pipe Lifting is one of the many under the OSA course being offered in the fall semester at TSTC.
To learn more about that program and to find a job quicker, visit their website.