Deciphering What Industry Is Plumbing: A Simple Guide

Written by Matthew Ludden / November 15, 2023 / 11 Minute Read
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In a complex industry, this detailed blog navigates the basic roles and responsibilities within the plumbing sector. Valve+Meter Performance Marketing highlights the plumbing industry’s growth, driven by technology and sustainability, and paints a promising future for plumbing professionals. Gain essential insights into training, certification, and the rising demand in this vital field.



Whether you work in the plumbing industry or simply want to learn more about plumbing, Valve+Meter Performance Marketing has crucial insights. From residential properties to the largest commercial and industrial buildings, plumbing ensures comfort and safety across the United States.

The industry is changing, and to succeed in the coming years, plumbing companies need a strong online presence. As a leader in plumbing digital marketing strategies, Valve+Meter researches the unique strengths and services of plumbing businesses.

Key Insights

The Diverse Roles in Plumbing

  • Plumbing extends beyond basic repairs, covering various niches like residential, commercial, service, and repair, each requiring unique skills.
  • Specializations include water supply, sanitary, and construction plumbing, highlighting the industry’s vast scope.

Understanding Plumbing’s Economic Category

  • Plumbing falls under NAICS code 238220, linking it to both plumbing and HVAC sectors.
  • This classification aids in economic analysis, impacting how plumbing businesses align with industry standards.

Market Dynamics in the Plumbing Industry

  • The U.S. plumbing market shows low concentration, with the top companies holding only 32% of industry revenue.
  • This scenario suggests ample opportunities for smaller businesses, fostering a competitive and innovative environment.

Future Prospects and Growth in Plumbing

  • Projected industry growth of 2% by 2032, driven by technological innovations like smart fixtures and energy-efficient systems.
  • The future trends include a focus on sustainability, increasing demand for skilled labor, and customer-centric services.

What Industry is Plumbing Considered?

With more than 480,000 plumbers in the United States, there are many types of plumbers throughout the industry. Everywhere there are buildings and water, there is a plumbing company ready to deliver aid.

Plumbing work isn’t just about fitting pipes and fixing leaking pipes; it’s a vast, multifaceted domain, encompassing various types of plumbing, each with its unique focus and expertise. Plumbing exists within the construction industry. All new construction projects include plumbing from single-family homes to the largest commercial buildings.

There are several types of plumbers. Four of these are very familiar, while others are more specialized.

Let’s examine six types of plumbers:

Residential Plumber

Specializes in plumbing work in homes, dealing with installations, repairs, and maintenance in domestic settings. They are the professionals who help homeowners with plumbing issues.

Residential plumbers are part of the home services industry. As such, residential plumbing businesses are diversifying to HVAC systems and other home services including electrical, appliance repair, roofing, and others. The combination of plumbing and heating contractors is quite common because heating, air conditioning, and other household appliances often require plumbing to operate.

Commercial Plumber

Industrial plumbing, heating, and air conditioning contractors work on larger systems in commercial buildings like offices, schools, and shopping centers. Commercial plumbing contractors handle more complex plumbing tasks due to the scale and usage levels of these buildings.

Service and Repair Plumber

While many plumbers focus on new construction, the demand for plumbing services on existing plumbing systems is vital. Plumbers may be experts in diagnosing issues from leaking pipes to broken plumbing fixtures. As the US housing stock ages, plumber contractors who offer solutions for plumbing repairs in older residential and commercial settings are on the rise.

Water Supply Plumber

They are specialized in installing and maintaining systems that bring clean water into a building while ensuring that the water supply is consistent and safe. These plumbing contractors may specialize in water tanks and greywater systems for homeowners and businesses with an eye on conservation.

Sanitary Plumber

This type involves the installation and maintenance of systems that remove wastewater or sewage from buildings. They ensure that sanitation systems are functioning correctly and hygienically. This type of plumbing work includes bathroom fixtures like showers, toilets, and sinks.

Construction Plumber

A construction plumber is named based on the site and type of work they do. These plumbers work in the planning and installation of the complete plumbing system in new buildings, from the ground up.

As this examination of different types of plumbing contractors shows, both the construction and the home services industries require plumbers. This designation largely is based on the work performed.

What is the Category of Plumbing?

A professional plumber is classified by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code 238220. This classification includes both plumbing and heating contractors.

Although not all plumbers install air conditioning and heating systems, the category is vital for data analysis, helping in understanding economic trends and the scope of the industry. It covers everything from installing new plumbing in construction projects to repairing existing heating and air conditioning systems.

Recognizing this classification is crucial for plumbing businesses to align their services with industry standards.

Market Concentration in the United States

When we look at the market concentration for the plumbing industry in the United States, it’s quite an interesting scenario. The market share concentration is relatively low, with the top four companies accounting for only about 32% of the industry’s revenue in 2023.

This indicates a diverse and competitive landscape, particularly among smaller industry players. The level of competition, while low on an overall scale, tends to be more intense at the smaller end of the market.

This diversity allows for a wide range of services and specialties, catering to various customer needs nationwide. For anyone involved in the plumbing industry, understanding this market structure is crucial for strategizing and finding their niche.

It suggests ample opportunity for small and medium-sized plumbing businesses to thrive, even amidst larger players. As of 2020, there were 60,940 plumbing companies with 5 or fewer employees and more than 100,000 total SMB plumbing businesses.

This environment promotes healthy competition, innovation, and a focus on quality services, which are beneficial for both the industry and its consumers.

In summary, the category of plumbing is a broad field with a diverse market in the United States. This classification and the market’s structure offer insights into the industry’s dynamics, guiding businesses in strategic planning and service delivery.

SMB 60,940
60,940 plumbing companies with 5 or fewer employees and more than 100,000 total SMB plumbing businesses.
Industry Growth 2%
The plumbing industry is projected to grow by 2% by 2032.

What is the Scope of a Plumber?

The scope of the services offered by a plumbing business is extensive and varied, encompassing a wide range of equipment installation and repair tasks.

A professional plumber’s work is not just limited to fixing leaky faucets or unclogging drains; their expertise covers a broad spectrum of systems essential for modern living.

Types of Equipment Plumbers Install and Repair

Let’s examine 8 of the most common services and equipment:

  1. Piping Systems: Installation and repair of piping systems form a significant part of a plumber’s job. They work with different materials like copper, PVC, and steel, ensuring water and gas are transported safely and efficiently.
  2. Fixtures: This includes sinks, toilets, showers, and faucets. Plumbers install and repair these fixtures, ensuring they function correctly and efficiently in both residential and commercial settings.
  3. Sewer Lines and Septic Systems: They are responsible for the maintenance and repair of sewer lines and septic systems, addressing blockages and leaks to prevent sanitation issues.
  4. Water Heaters: Plumbers are skilled in installing and repairing various types of water heaters, including traditional tank models and modern tankless units. They ensure these systems provide a reliable hot water supply for homes and buildings.
  5. HVAC Systems: As previously noted, some plumbers extend their expertise to HVAC systems, dealing with aspects related to water-based heating systems like boilers and radiators.
  6. Water Filtration and Softening Systems: They also handle the installation and maintenance of water filtration and softening systems, contributing to better water quality in homes and businesses.
  7. Irrigation Systems: In residential and commercial landscapes, plumbers install and repair irrigation systems, ensuring efficient water use for landscaping.
  8. Emergency Repairs: Plumbers often respond to emergencies like burst pipes or major leaks, providing prompt and effective solutions to prevent extensive damage.

The scope of a plumber’s work is diverse, requiring a broad set of skills and knowledge. Depending on the business, a professional plumber may renovate bathrooms or assist air conditioning contractors in heating equipment installation.

Whether it’s a complex installation or a routine repair, plumbers play a crucial role in maintaining the functionality and safety of plumbing systems in various settings. Their expertise is indispensable in ensuring that the water systems we rely on daily operate smoothly and efficiently.

Are Plumbing Training and Licensing the Same in Every State?

When it comes to plumbing training and licensing, one might assume a standard protocol across the United States. However, the reality is quite different. Each state has its specific regulations and requirements for plumbers, leading to a variety of standards and procedures across the country.

In some states, becoming a licensed plumber might involve extensive apprenticeships, vocational training, and passing state-specific licensing exams. These programs not only cover practical skills but also include theoretical knowledge about plumbing codes, safety regulations, and environmental guidelines.

On the other hand, other states may have more lenient requirements, with shorter training periods or different criteria for licensing. It’s not uncommon for states to have varying levels of licenses, such as apprentice, journeyman, and master plumber, each with its own set of requirements and scope of work permissions.

This variance means that a plumber licensed in one state might not automatically be qualified to work in another state. Plumbing professionals must be aware of the specific regulations in their state or any state they plan to work in. This ensures not only compliance with local laws but also guarantees the safety and quality of their work.

For anyone considering a career in plumbing, understanding these state-specific requirements is essential. It affects the duration and nature of training, the types of jobs one can undertake, and the potential for career advancement. It also underscores the importance of continuous learning and staying updated with changing regulations and industry best practices.

Plumbing training and licensing are not uniform across all states in the U.S. They vary significantly, reflecting local laws, standards, and industry needs. This diversity highlights the importance of understanding and adhering to state-specific requirements to ensure successful and legal plumbing practice.

Is The Plumbing Industry Growing?

The industry outlook is positive. The plumbing industry is not only fundamental to our daily lives but also a sector experiencing tangible growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is projected to grow by 2% by 2032. This steady growth is indicative of the ongoing need for plumbing services, both in residential and commercial spaces.

A key driver of this growth is the role of technology and innovation in the industry. The advent of video inspection tools has revolutionized how plumbers diagnose and fix problems. These tools allow for a more accurate and less invasive method to inspect pipes and other plumbing systems, saving time and reducing the need for potentially costly exploratory measures.

Smart fixtures and pipes are also emerging as game-changers in the plumbing world. These advanced systems offer enhanced efficiency, leak detection, and even remote monitoring capabilities. Their adoption reflects a growing trend towards smart homes and buildings, where convenience and efficiency are paramount.

Furthermore, the industry is embracing energy-efficient innovations. These include developments like tankless water heaters and greywater recycling systems, which conserve water and reduce energy consumption. This shift towards sustainability is not just a response to environmental concerns but also a reflection of consumer preferences and regulatory trends.

The plumbing industry is indeed growing, propelled by technological advancements and a push towards more sustainable practices. These innovations are shaping the future of plumbing, making it a dynamic and evolving field with promising prospects for those involved. The industry’s growth is a testament to its adaptability and its crucial role in modern society.

What Is The Future Of The Plumbing Industry?

The future of the plumbing industry is poised for exciting developments, shaped by technology, sustainability, and evolving consumer needs. This industry, essential to everyday life, is adapting to the changing world, promising a dynamic and innovative future.

Technological Advancements

One of the most significant drivers of change in the plumbing industry is technology. We are seeing an increasing use of smart plumbing technologies, including IoT (Internet of Things) enabled devices, advanced leak detection systems, and automated control systems for water management.

These innovations not only improve efficiency and convenience but also help conserve water and reduce waste.

Focus on Sustainability

Sustainability is another key trend shaping the future of plumbing. There is a growing demand for eco-friendly plumbing solutions, like greywater recycling systems and low-flow fixtures, which are designed to minimize water usage and reduce environmental impact.

More efficient fixtures, smart plumbing technology, gray water systems, and other innovations will shape the future of plumbing. As the world becomes more environmentally conscious, these sustainable practices are expected to become standard in the industry.

Skilled Labor Demand

The industry also faces a challenge and opportunity in the form of skilled labor demand. The earning potential varies across states, but entry-level plumbers can generally earn $30,000-40,000 annually. The potential is strong with the top-earning master plumbers in California earning over $116,000 annually.

With a significant portion of the current workforce nearing retirement, there is a growing need for new, skilled workers. This demand could lead to more training programs, apprenticeships, and educational opportunities, attracting a new generation to the plumbing profession.

Regulatory Changes

Regulatory changes are likely to play a significant role in the industry’s future. Governments and regulatory bodies are increasingly focusing on water conservation and building safety, leading to stricter standards and codes. Plumbers will need to stay informed and adapt to these regulatory changes to ensure compliance and safety.

Customer-Centric Services

Finally, the future of plumbing will see a more customer-centric approach. With the rise of digital platforms and social media, customers expect quick, efficient, and transparent services. Plumbers and plumbing companies will need to adopt new ways of communication and service delivery to meet these changing customer expectations.

In summary, the plumbing industry is marked by innovation, sustainability, skilled labor development, regulatory changes, and a focus on customer service. These trends indicate not only growth but also a transformation of the industry, making it an exciting time for both professionals and consumers in the world of plumbing.


As we’ve explored, the plumbing industry is vast and ever-evolving, driven by technology, sustainability, and a growing demand for skilled professionals. For those interested in diving deeper into this thriving industry, Valve+Meter is here to help.

Whether you’re a seasoned plumber looking to expand your business or someone considering a career in this dynamic field, our expertise in digital marketing can elevate your online presence.

Interested in learning more about Valve+Meter?

Discover how we can help you navigate the exciting opportunities within the plumbing industry and make a lasting impact.

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