Ah, plumbing systems... Something you don’t even notice when it’s working, but the moment it breaks down, life becomes WAY more unpleasant (and smellier!). Plumbing pro David Ellingsen shares his take on why working in plumbing is both necessary and satisfying.
David Ellingsen: Plumber
“Why would you be a plumber? Pipes and drains all day long. The only hero to look up to: Mario. Or Luigi. Forget that garbage about Einstein wanting to be a plumber or that Ozzy Osbourne was an apprentice for a week. You don’t do it for the fame and glory. It’s physical work and you can get dirty.
So, why do it? Well, for starters, plumbers can make a lot of money. And the work is actually satisfying. There’s nothing like feeling you have spent the day doing something useful. Something that has a direct positive effect on people’s day to day lives.
You go to someone’s place, get to know them a bit and fix up their hot water so they can finally have a hot shower. You get well paid for a job that’s interesting and challenging and get sent on your way by a happy customer thrilled they’ve got hot water back and grateful for what you’ve done!
No one’s born a plumber, though. You have to learn how to do it hands-on as an apprentice. You have to develop good trade skills like how to weld and learn a lot of technical stuff. But that’s not all of it. Plenty of plumbers like to be self-employed and run their own business. If you choose that route, you have to have a grasp of basic accounting and how to promote yourself."
Plumber David Ellingsen.
What would you say are three key personality aspects or skills that make a good plumber?
You have to be organised, good with your hands and able to solve problems. Customers hardly ever know the details of their plumbing. You have to work out where everything is based on experience. You go to someone’s place as the expert and customers expect you to know.
If you can’t work out what’s going wrong, you won’t get far as a plumber. But that’s the fun of it too. It’s a challenge with a clear objective – make the plumbing work like it should.
What are the tough moments?
Having to deal with reality behind the expression ‘solids in the pan’. Some drain blockages are a real pain and there are times when you just can’t clear the pipe because it’s collapsed. I don’t know many plumbers who like to dig.
What advice would you give to young people thinking about pursuing a career in this industry?
Be prepared to put in long hours and work hard. You can ask for good money, but you can’t have days when your mind isn’t on the job. And never lose sight of the fact that plumbing is essential. Good sewerage and running water are the foundations of modern life. Plumbers are proud of what they do.
David Ellingsen is the founder of Metropolitan Plumbing, one of Australia’s most recognised plumbing companies. Having spent over 25 years running this award winning national company means that he has experienced pretty much everything in the plumbing industry.
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