It may not be a glorified profession, but we would all be in trouble if it weren't for plumbers helping us with household headaches. The impetus for growth in the plumbing and pipefitting sector is multifaceted, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
An increase in building over the next decade, a focus on water efficiency standards (think low-flow toilets) and the adoption of a change to the International Residential Code that requires certain buildings to install fire sprinkler systems all contribute to the increased job prospects for plumbing professionals nationally.
As of 2010, there were approximately 419,900 plumbers and pipefitters employed in the U.S. These professionals earned a national average salary of $46,660 per year and $22.43 per hour. The job growth outlook for plumbers is very good: From 2010 to 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the number of plumbing jobs to grow 27% — almost double the national average.
How we determined the best cities for plumbers and pipefitters
For a deeper look into the plumbing field, ValuePenguin reports on the best cities for plumbers to consider for the best career prospects. We ranked U.S. cities based on three key questions:
1. How much money do plumbers make in the city?
We ranked cities based on the median annual pay as a substantial factor in the decision process for plumbers looking for work. Of course, a high salary for a plumber in an expensive city may not outweigh a lower salary in an affordable town. That's why we posed our second question...
2. How expensive is it to live there?
In conjunction with the median annual salary for plumbers in the city, cost of living helps determine how far your dollar will go. For this particular variable, cities with lower costs of living ranked high in our study.
3. What is the location quotient for plumbers in the city?
A town with a high average salary and low cost of living may seem perfect, but job opportunities may be limited. Our study factors in cities with a high plumber and pipefitter location quotient. Location quotient measures the concentration of plumbers in the city as a proportion of all occupations relative to the national average. A higher location quotient can be inferred to mean a relatively high demand for plumbers' services.
Best cities for plumbers and pipefitters
Probably best known for being the birthplace of Michael Jackson (and the rest of The Jackson 5), Gary wins the top spot on our list with a strong showing. First, plumbers in this NW Indiana city get paid an enormous $77,120 per year on average. That's 67% more than the median salary of $46,660 for plumbing professionals in the U.S.
Gary also has an extremely high concentration of plumbers, giving them the fourth-best location quotient in our study. Finally, Gary (like all the cities at the top of our list) is a very affordable place to live. It has the seventh-lowest cost of living in our study.
Related: ValuePenguin's Indiana State Guide to Auto Insurance
Located along the Flint River about 70 miles outside of Detroit, Flint, Mich., is a town with a rich history. In this year's ValuePenguin study, Flint placed inside of our top 10 — no small feat. The city's ranking was buoyed by it's cheap cost of living, easily taking the number one spot on our list. But beyond its cost of living, Flint also showcased a higher-than-average demand for plumbing services and an average salary that's 35% higher than other cities in the country.
Related: ValuePenguin’s Best Car Insurance Rates in Michigan
This town of roughly 45,000 residents is the least populous city to crack our top five, and it does so with solid marks across the board. For starters, Kokomo showcased the second-lowest cost of living out of all U.S. cities. The City of Firsts also boasts an average annual salary that's 45% higher than the national median for plumbers and pipefitters. Finally, even though Kokomo has less than 50,000 people living inside of city limits, it has the fifth-highest density of plumbers per capita.
Appleton, one of the Fox Cities, is located about 30 miles from Green Bay along the Fox River. The reason this Wisconsin town made the list is due to its strong concentration of (and demand for) plumbers — the fourth-highest in our study. Appleton plumbers also get paid about $63,350 per year on average, or 37% higher than the national average for all plumbers and pipefitters. Finally, the cost of living in the Appleton area is very reasonable, which means your dollar will go a long way.
Indiana's third-largest city is located in the southwest corner of the state. There are plenty of opportunities in Evansville for plumbers. Not only does the Pocket City have a high concentration of plumbing jobs per capita, but job seekers can also look forward to a high median salary, $64,150, and a cost of living that is the third best in this year's study.
Top 20 cities for plumbers and pipefitters
Cost of living
|5||St. Louis, MO||$68,850||4,790||1.44||86||66|
|6||Fond du Lac, WI||$72,510||210||1.91||94||63|
|11||Cedar Rapids, IA||$62,410||640||1.77||83||54|
Here's how we gathered the data we used to determine the best cities for plumbers:
- Average salary: Cities with the highest average annual salary
- Cost of living: Cities with the lowest costs of living. Data sourced from Sperling's Best Places COL Calculator.
- Employment: Cities with the highest numbers of biomedical engineering jobs