Comparing Carpenters to Plumbers
Carpenters and plumbers often work in similar construction environments and perform some comparable duties. Both jobs are physical, but these professionals work with different materials and have unique tasks on a given job site.
|Job Title||Educational Requirements||Median Salary (2016)*||Job Outlook (2016-2026)*|
|Carpenters||High school diploma and apprenticeship||$43,600||8%|
|Plumbers||High school diploma and apprenticeship; license||$51,450 (plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters)||16% (plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Responsibilities of Carpenters vs. Plumbers
Carpenters primarily work with wood and focus on building the framework for buildings or installing fixtures, such as windows. Plumbers work on the pipes and systems that carry water and waste throughout buildings; their work can involve welding metal pipes together. Both carpenters and plumbers may have some supervisory responsibilities and need to be familiar with applicable building codes and regulations.
Carpenters and plumbers both read technical documents, such as blueprints. Their work involves using tools and carrying equipment and materials. While they may both be responsible for cutting materials and repairing damage, they work with different materials for different purposes. Both occupations have high rates of injury on the job due to the tools and materials they work with.
Carpenters create walls, floors, and structures with wood, but may also complete other construction tasks, such as installing drywall or cabinets. Some carpenters specialize in erecting scaffolding for bridges and other structures. With experience, carpenters can seek opportunities to advance to supervisory roles in construction.
Although certification isn't required for this career, earning certifications may prepare carpenters to specialize in a specific area, such as remodeling. Physical fitness is important because their work involves carrying materials and equipment and standing for long periods of time. While some carpenters may have their own business, many work for contractors or construction companies. It's common for carpenters to work evenings and weekends.
Job responsibilities of a carpenter include:
- Measuring materials
- Cutting and fastening materials
- Interpreting technical drawings
- Repairing damaged structures
- Using power tools
- Overseeing apprentices
Plumbers install plumbing systems and ensure they are working correctly. Plumbers need to have strong troubleshooting skills so that they can identify plumbing and pipe issues and figure out the best solution. They have to carry and hold equipment regularly, so they need to be physically fit. They also must be capable of working in small, confined spaces.
It's most common for plumbers to work for plumbing businesses, although some may have their own business or work in manufacturing. Working during the evenings and weekends is common, and plumbers may also be on call to respond to emergencies. At the master-level, a plumber may draft plumbing systems into building blueprints for use by other construction specialists and supervisors.
Job responsibilities of a plumber include:
- Installing pipes into new buildings
- Replacing damaged pipes
- Maintaining septic tanks
- Reviewing building plans and codes
- Welding pipes
- Monitoring apprentices and delegating tasks
Those considering a career as a carpenter may also be interested in becoming a construction foreman since a construction foreman also works on construction sites and oversees construction crews. If a career as a plumber sounds appealing, then a career as a boilermaker might be a possible alternative because boilermakers perform some similar tasks, such as welding parts together and maintaining equipment used to store liquids.