America’s Created a Shortage of Plumbers
[email protected]

Most of you have probably noticed a rather dangerous trend in America. Colleges aren’t producing much in the way of productive society members, and, as a result, vital trades in America are dying.

For example, reports show that we are dangerously short on plumbers these days. And things don’t look to be getting much better.

Anyone who’s ever had a water leak in the basement or clogged toilet can tell you just how important the trade is to our society. But as Ed Bigley, business manager for the Pittsburgh Plumbers Union Local 27, says, it’s so much more than that.

I mean, think about it: plumbing is what ensures you have clean water to drink every day. It’s what keeps hospitals running, commercial businesses in production, groceries fully stocked, etc. Basically, every area of your life runs on the plumbing industry.

And yet, reports show that within the next three years, America will be short some 550,000 plumbers.


Well, for starters, as I hinted at, there is an incorrect stereotype associated with the trade. You know, the image of a burly, rude, not-so-smart guy coming in to fix a leaky faucet.

In reality, plumbers are more likely to be able to figure out a Rubik’s cube in their sleep than most. If you have your doubts, just take a quick look at the average industrial plumbing system, with its miles of piping, turns, valves, and wires.

I dare you to figure all that out… But I digress.

The second issue is that due to this stereotype, colleges have made most individuals smart enough to handle a trade as complex as plumbing.

As Bigley explained, plumbing and other similar trades used to be quite popular careers.

Basically, since the Industrial Revolution all the way up until 1980 or so, anyone who was good at math and problem-solving and didn’t mind getting their hands dirty entered the trade right out of high school, filling “shop” classes and apprenticeship programs throughout the nation.

“It was a career that propelled generations of young people into the American dream of owning a home while working your way up the ladder to be part of one of the most vital trades in our country.”

But somewhere along the way, the stereotype set in, and high school counselors began to push college educations more. Somehow, plumbing and other trades became “less than.”

Now, 50 years later, the National Association of Home Builders has reported a whopping 55 percent fall in available working plumbers.

Of course, as I mentioned, this doesn’t just affect residential issues.

Additionally, it’s one of the many issues plaguing our failing economy.

Lixil, a popular bathroom fittings maker, noted that the deficit of licensed plumbers created a $33 billion loss for the economy in 2022 alone.

Naturally, those like Bigley are trying to amend the problem, using both traditional and more modern methods to reach young people and students. Besides attending job fairs and speaking at high schools, his union is also highly active on social media platforms like Facebook, attempting to attract young people to this critical trade.

Thankfully, the rising cost of most college tuition and the fact that a college education just isn’t cutting it anymore is helping Bigley’s cause. But it’s still slow going, an everyday battle.

As he admitted, he’s had more people retire in the past few years than he’s brought on.

So the next time you speak to a smart, young individual looking at their career options, don’t jump immediately to pushing for a college education.

Life as a plumber may actually be much more rewarding, not to mention important.