Very few professions are as recognized as plumbers are. While they have been the object of more than a few jokes-all well intended, no doubt-when the pipe breaks and the basement is flooding, no one is laughing anymore and the first person called to do the job of fixing them is a plumber. This is one of the fundamental infrastructure fields of employment. Just try going anywhere and not see some kind of plumbing. As to the basics, this is primarily a unionized and apprenticeship based profession.
The apprenticeship process consists of a five-year, paid, on-the-job training program with no less than 246 hours of annual classroom time. Once you complete your apprenticeship you will carry the coveted title of "Journeyman Plumber". As with any unionized profession, membership in the union is half of the value of the profession itself, as it insures benefits packages that just happen to be the envy of the world. Retirement is another great benefit to this profession as it is worth more, even with the smallest of retirement checks, because many people are finding real retirement out of their reach.
There are four major specializations for union plumbers; they are Plumber, Pipelayer, Pipefitter and Steamfitters. The job field for those who hold these titles can extend all the way up to nuclear reactors, as they are primarily steam driven systems. Regardless of how "well" Wall Street, Madison Avenue and Hollywood are, every one of them has plumbing and needs plumbers, steamfitters and the like, every construction project small or large must have plumbing.
This is based on existing growth curves and does not account for factors such as economic recovery or the nascent solar industry. It is estimated the up to 10% of all homes will be refitted for solar thermal energy system over the next ten years, and possibly more. This will certainly drive demand beyond current estimates. Excellent salaries, world class benefits, retirement, and job demand growth make this one of the most desirable career choices.