How to Become a Plumber: Part 5, Money

Your financial benefit as a plumber is a combination of income and outgo. You cannot make enough money to stay ahead of stupidity. I’ve seen innumerable numbskulls who made a good income from plumbing and then wrecked their lives with gambling, drinking, drugs, and credit cards. I’ve worked in shops where every plumber on the payroll (except me) had a garnishment on his paycheck, usually for child support. I saw many guys pull off from a job on payday, return to the shop when the checks were ready, grab their check and run it to the bank, and then go back to work.

You can make money as a plumber. You can make more as a supervisor, even more as a manager of a shop, and more still if you own the shop. But you can’t earn enough to stay ahead of stupidity. This means that becoming a plumber won’t solve your money problems. Living a non-stupid life will solve most money problems.

To succeed, the first thing that you should know is that your job is to make your employer successful. Presumably you will do that by plumbing, but the focus should be on the success of your employer. Let this be your guiding star and you will be continually moving toward higher income.

Next, realize that exorbitant pricing can hurt you in the long run. It will cause people to bad-mouth you and it can have a corrosive effect on your own soul. If you mistreat customers, you always know in your heart that you deserve punishment; and that sets you up for catastrophe.

Why does everyone use Amazon? Because they do the best job at the lowest prices — and it made Jeff Bezos a billionaire. Why does everybody go to Walmart? Same story. You won’t become a millionaire by plumbing, but you could do so by serving people more and more effectively. That’s what a businessman does: he creates jobs and hires employees and manages them, he buys equipment and meets more needs, he goes from one headache to another, putting out fires all day long. If he’s good enough (and most aren’t), he gets rich.

Until you have your own business, work faithfully for your employer and your family. If you’re careful, you’ll have fewer callbacks and the results will show on your paycheck. If you work smarter and harder and longer, it will show. That will require keeping your truck in order, planning ahead, and getting a job finished even if you have to inconvenience yourself or rearrange some plans you had for yourself. Learn all you can. Help your coworkers. Over time, these things pay you back.