Business Growth

Hourly Rates for Plumbers and How You Can Grow Your Business

Lots of businesses say you shouldn’t be in a job just for the money. Sure, it’s great to be passionate and take pride in your work, build your skills and become part of a community. It feels good to do good work.

But we all need to make money and we deserve a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

Considering the trades and are considering going into plumbing? 

Read on as we discuss everything you need to know about profitable jobs in plumbing.

Why Plumbing?

Plumbing is the kind of job that can get you consistency and good pay. People need plumbers no matter where you go, and this demand plus the skills required mean the hourly rate for a plumber will be competitive.

Like any other trade, plumbing is hands-on and requires good physical strength. It also requires you to think on your feet depending on the kinds of problems you might encounter on the job. You’re doing both physical and mental work, and you don’t know what to really expect.

What you can expect, thankfully, is a good plumbing hourly rate. A plumbing job is a job that can provide a lifelong career, with many options to specialise and earn even more.

We’ll go over different types of plumbing fees and jobs, as each one will have a different hourly rate for plumbers depending on what it entails, as well as the rates for levels of plumbing experience and some specialisations that can take your skills and pay further.

Plumbing Fees and Rates

Different kinds of jobs will come with varying levels of pay, depending on the hours, consistency and complexity of the work. It’s up to you which kinds of plumbing work you wish to pursue, and there are certain benefits to every kind of job and how it affects the hourly rate for a plumber. If you’re considering running your own plumbing business this can be a good place to start in order to pick your specific area.

If you are running your own small business you could decide to take on short-term jobs at residences during daylight hours, longer-term jobs with more complex timelines and planning, emergency electrical work during all hours of the day: whatever you want to do. There are average plumber hourly rates that can give you an idea on your pricing.

If you’re considering the industry and want to know more about hourly rates for a plumber, we hope this will give you an overview of what to expect and what plumbing hourly rates are in Australia.

Call-out fees

This plumbing rate is a flat fee charged when you’re called out to a job, usually for immediate or out-of-hours service. Most businesses charge this fee as standard practice.

This can cover the time and labour it takes to inspect the job and get an estimate, even if you don’t get the job. You won’t get a plumbing hourly rate for this but having a fixed cost for call-outs means there’s no surprise on behalf of the customer and you can be upfront about the initial cost.

Call-out fees range on average between $70 to $100. Some businesses might offer specials on their call-out fees such as no fee or half-price for first-time customers, but might have a higher hourly rate of plumber to compensate.

The low ranges are typically for newer plumbers while the high fees are charged by master plumbers or specialists. Some call-outs might be higher due to a need to travel further or complexity of the requested job. 

Emergency/After Hours work

Hourly rates for a plumber will increase if the specialty is immediate for emergencies or centered around after hours work.

This can be shown in higher call-out fees between $150-$250 or higher plumbing hourly rate as the jobs might be less consistent and plumbers need to be more flexible with their hours.

Fixed Rate work

This is more typically quoted for larger, long-term jobs that require tradies to be on-site for a fixed time. You may negotiate a single fixed payment rather than a plumbing hourly rate.

Early on it’s unlikely you’ll be dealing with fixed rate jobs, but as you gain more experience and consider running your own business, larger jobs might require a fixed rather than hourly rate for a plumber.

An example is installing a solar hot water system for anywhere between $4000-$12,000. If your business specialises in hot water systems, you’d have a good idea of what the entire job will cost and can give an estimate for the total cost rather than figuring out the plumbing hourly rates. You’d still have an hourly rate for plumber employees, but that would be covered in the estimate.

Hourly Rates for Plumbers

When looking at how much plumbers cost per hour, the price itself has a wide range depending on the kind of plumbing work a customer needs and the average hourly rate of a plumber for that area. The cost of a plumber per hour will be higher than what’s reflected in your plumbing hourly rate of pay to compensate for other expenses.

Apprentice Plumbers

When you’re just starting out, you will be paid, but it will be at the lower end of the payscale as you’ll be paid a percentage of the regular rate. You gotta start where everyone else started, but the more you learn and the more years you stick with it, the more you’ll earn.

A starting plumbing hourly rate for a 1st year apprentice is around $16-$17 and can grow to $18-$24 through 2nd, 3rd and 4th year apprenticeships. Some companies offer salaried pay for 4th year apprentices starting at $32,000 to $50,000. 

Journeyman Plumbers

The majority of plumbers. A journeyman is someone that’s finished their training and is licenced to work in the industry. This covers a wide range of plumbers and skills and this is reflected in the rates.

An hourly rate for plumber journeymen can range from anywhere between $35 to $45, and this can go over 45 dollars an hour depending on the location and demand. Yearly salary can be between $58,000 to $75,000.

Master Plumbers

Experienced plumbers that are part of the Master Plumber Association for each state. Master plumbers have years of experience and skills, and they have access to industry advice and expertise from their Association and are considered to provide some of the best service for their chosen area.

They are often trained in particular specialisations to provide expert service and their plumbing hourly rate shows this.

The plumbing hourly rate for a master plumber can be between $36 to $64 based on averages but can exceed $64 per hour. Yearly salaries for master plumbers can vary between $65,000 to $120,000.

Considerations When Running a Business

There’s a lot to look at here and a lot to consider. When you’re setting up your own business and your pay is essentially what you can make, it will be hard to decide what rate to set in order to cover your costs, make profit and keep your customers happy.

Don't sell yourself short

A $0 or cheap call-out fee can be very tempting to a customer that needs work done, so can a projected low hourly rate for a plumber. It might seem like a good way to kickstart customer interest and can help getting leads, but when you’re running a small business, you know every dollar counts.

Some customers will just go with the cheapest option and that’s that, but you don’t need to be that option. Offering deals to first-time customers is fine and all, but you don’t want your reputation to stop at ‘cheaper’, you want your business to be known for great work and service!

The way to keep your plumbing hourly rates consistent and profitable is to have more demand and jobs available. With a steady supply of customer leads, you can grow your business and provide more services, without giving up profits. AroFlo’s article on getting plumbing leads for your business can help to keep your jobs coming and build a solid customer base.

You can easily specialise

Specialisation keeps popping up, because it’s a great way to expand your skills and find an area where you and your business can shine. Your plumbing hourly rate will go up as you become an expert in your field.

Specialisations can be anything from hot water systems, gas fittings, property maintenance, fire protection, roofing, irrigation and more. As a plumber, you have many options and paths for your career and many of these can last a lifetime as the industry grows. 

Your competition matter

Another good place to consider when thinking about hourly rates of a plumber is to look at the local market. Trends will move over time as supply and demand in your area changes, so it’s a good idea to find what the other guys are charging and see how it compares to you. If your rates are too high (or too low!) you can adjust so you’re making a profit and remaining competitive.

If you’re trying to get your plumbing business to stand out from the rest and you’re not sure where to start, AroFlo’s plumbing marketing article gives you 9 strategies to make your company successful. A solid reputation will carry your business, especially one as essential as plumbing.

Now It's Time to Get Growing

We get that being able to make money is what your business needs to grow and that when you’re starting a business in any trade, there’s lots of overhead and things to consider. Hourly rates for plumber employees and yourself is just one of those many parts to think about.

Apps and software can help smooth out these things and help your business by taking some of the stress off admin. AroFlo’s guide to plumbing apps can help you choose what kind of app might be best for your business.

You want the work to speak for itself and your skills to shine so that your small business can thrive for years to come.

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