The Billionaire Plumber

I’ve been hearing a lot on AF about Joe the Plumber who makes six figures and has zero education beyond high school.

Apparently, being a six-figure-earning plumber is so easy, it has a zero percent attrition rate.

Can anybody please tell me where we got this six-figure salary for plumbers? And the zero percent attrition rate?

(When you state salary figures, please do not take the average wage for NYC and SF. There are lots of places in the US that have lower salaries and COL than those two places.)

I always just assumed it was a running joke to respond to posters looking to get into the same industry or MBA program that Itera is/was in.

Here it is for Portfolio Managers:

also, the median PM makes $120k? that’s just salary right?

The six figure plumber doesn’t work for someone else. Though here they do, you can make $150+ in oil and gas mechanical trades (plumbing is the ticket). Greenie, when your sink clogs and you need to piss in the night like you do, and you call Joe Plumber who charges you $400 for the 2am emergency call, who do you think gets that cash? The apprentice gets paid $25/HR on salary. The master plumber is taking in hundreds and hundreds every single service call. That’s why I say folks with half a brain can kill it there as they can dominate a business which is mostly guys working hourly for their beer and blow.

The median plumber makes $51k and the median PM (realizing there’s like three people max on this entire forum who are PM’s) makes $121k.

The median plumber never went to college and lives in a rural area.

Essentially all PM’s live in urban areas with college and MBA debt and take 5+ years (beyond opportunity cost of time spent in school) .

Does even the median plumber win on NPV? The fact that it’s even close given the caliber of difference, intelligence and work ethic between the two should tell you anyone who goes the top 10 route should be able to quickly organize and dominate a business in that field.

I believe it. I’ve seen it happen and know these types of plumbers.

Some of it has to be cyclical and dependent on housing/construction growth.

This, when most of the industry is disorganized and not ambitious, it’s not hard to quickly become an employer.

I actually just remembered my Dad’s business partner’s son, a guy I grew up with. He’s now a home builder with a lot of subcontractors beneath him. Went out and started doing flooring in 2009 (area was sheltered from much of the bust) and gradually had everyone working for him. I talked to him and he said similar things, basically he was just more motivated and reliable.

Another thing to consider with plumbing (or electrical or HVAC) is that there are barriers to entry. While me and BS could go launch GeoSwan Flooring Corp tomorrow, we can’t go start BlackGeo plumbing. Why? Because you need to be a licensed master plumber to pull permits in any jurisdiction I know of. So the pool is even smaller at the top, it’s the guys with business sense that apprenticed for peanuts for 4 years that have the opportunity to run the show.

So the apprentice (a.k.a. the guy who graduated from high school yesterday and has never had a job a day in his life) is making $25 x 2080 = $52,000 per year?

Edit - The median salary is $52k, and the median plumber lives in a rural area. So, the rural plumbers are making $52k. How much do plumbers in NYC and SF make?

^ In Calgary a first year plumbing apprentice makes $20/HR with 2x overtime. Working 50 hours a week (common) grosses him about $62k a year. That’s regular cleaning drains and install work. Oil and gas would obviously pay more. Don’t know what rates are elsewhere but I know Toronto is in this ballpark. Your salary is a % of your journeyman wage. So it’s $20 first year, then to $25, $30, $35 until your at the $40 journeyman wage. Your next big bump is when you pass the code tests and become a master where you can pull permits.

You sure do know a lot about plumbers… almost TOO much

I never thought about it that way. He charges me $400, pays the apprentice $25, and he gets to pocket $375, all on somebody else’s backbreaking labor. .

Of course, the apprentice is working 40 billable hours per week. He doesn’t have to drive between appointments, take breaks, or anything like that. He just works, with his nose to the grindstone, 8-5, with a one hour lunch.

He doesn’t have to pay the mortgage (principal + interest), property taxes, or insurance on his shop. The electricity, gas, water, and telephone are all provided for free.

He doesn’t have to pay for all the vehicles (and fuel, and oil changes, and repairs, and insurance) that he and his employees drive.

He doesn’t have to pay $5,000 for that wireline camera, and all the tools that he has were given to him by the local hardware store. (As was all the PVC pipe, toilets, valves, pipe cement, etc.)

He doesn’t have to pay workers comp or payroll taxes. And he doesn’t hire a payroll service to do this for him, because payroll taxes are so easy, any idiot can do it.

He doesn’t have to pay for his computer, internet, software, bookkeeping, orsecretary. Apparently all of his office help works for free. So does his CPA that files his tax return.

Of course, he has more than enough money in his bank account on any given day to pay all of these expenses (I forgot that he doesn’t have any expenses) pay his apprentice. Nobody ever writes him bad checks or “forgets” to pay their bill.

He never has to spend any time doing non-billable hours. He doesn’t do any bookkeeping, software/server maintenance on his computers, making deposits, paying bills, reconciling bank statements, chasing down creditors, listening to salespeople, doing CPE or any other education to maintain his license), or anything else that doesn’t make him $375 per hour.

No, the master plumber simply makes $375 x 2080 = $780k per year, and that’s with just one apprentice. Imagine if he had two!!!

Where some of the math breaksdown for a worker bee plumber is that many are just members of the union local and work in spurts. The husband of a friend is a plumber with some special certification that very few people have. When a plumber with that certification is required, he get a call from the local and works 50-60 hour weeks for anywhere from 2 weeks - several months until whatever he needs to do gets done. He then goes weeks or months with no work. I don’t know exactly what he makes, but I think it’s somewhere in the $100,000 - $150,000 range. He’s also 50+ years old and is at the top of the payscale. I assume there are young guys in the local with less specialized skills who work on a project for a couple of weeks until it’s done, then go a few weeks until another project comes along. I’m guessing they make less than $40,000, and that’s in the NYC/Philly area, but they also aren’t working 2,000+ hours per year.


I guess these millennials don’t think snaking people’s poo is appealing. While I still would not recommend being a plumber over normal finance jobs that people here have, the salary does seem not bad, relative to other blue collar jobs.

Most plumbers most don’t supply apprentices with vehicles, they don’t have secretaries, internet is a home cost everyone has, most don’t have shops or if they do its just a room in their home. Payroll taxes are easy, thats why you do them. Etc etc etc. Weak analysis Greenie, weak analysis.

Ok, maybe he has a $5k camera, big whoop sure beats $100k in student debt.

U MAD the median plumber with no college education earns what you do with an MBA?

The marketers of the CFA designation are loving this thread. A bunch of experienced CFA chaarterholders basically saying go and become a plumber instead. Level 1 candiadtes should be reading this.