How to Create a Plumbing Career Path for Employees

Attracting and keeping top talent in your plumbing business starts with offering prospective plumbers a solid plumbing career path. As a manager or owner, you want to have a clear plan in place for your employees to train and acquire additional skills to advance to the next level or take on more responsibilities.   

Highly skilled plumbers want to work where they are appreciated and paid what they deserve. They also don’t want to be stuck in a position or pigeon holed into doing the same tasks every day because they are good at it. 

How do you attract and keep the best plumbers? Have a plumbing career plan in place and make sure your employees are aware of it.  

In this article we’ll consider the following:

  • Why Create a Career Path?
  • Mapping a Career Path for Plumbers

Why Create a Career Path For Plumbing Employees?

Let’s define a career path first. A career path is merely a long-term plan that leads to an employee’s desired outcome. For example – you want to be a doctor? You will have to go through years of school and training to get there. 

Excel in academics and residency and you can reach doctor status. Or, maybe you decide a few years into it that you want to be a nurse instead? This example can be applied to the plumbing trades: the career path is a series of steps and education that leads to different roles in a business. 

Many trades businesses have no clear goals or career paths laid out. This can lead to employee churn. U.S. Businesses are losing more than a TRILLION dollars a year as a result of voluntary turnover. But this can be fixed! 

Over half of the people that left their job said that no one spoke about their job satisfaction or future with the company.  

Make sure your managers are talking to their reports regularly about how they are feeling and what their goals are with the company. This won’t stop everyone from seeking out alternate employment, but can certainly help your cause. 

How can you create learning opportunities in your company? Consider paying for plumbers to go to continued training  or an industry event. You can also schedule lunch and learns where one plumber or industry expert shares their expertise with the group. 

Advantages of creating plumbing career paths where employees are constantly learning include:

  • Lower turnover (which means less hiring and growing pains for you!)!
  • Happier and goal-oriented employees
  • Higher skilled employees who are constantly learning

Best of all, happy employees often translate to happier customers. Nobody wants a disgruntled or frustrated plumber working on their pipes! 


Career Path Mapping

Job hopping is a reality, especially among the younger generation. 21% of millennials switched jobs within the past year. What are some of the reasons for this constant switching of jobs? Two big reasons: employees feel underpaid and see no advancement opportunities. 

But your business wants to KEEP your top talent. A clear career path can help.

Follow these steps to create a plumbing career path.

1. Identify Your Business Needs

What are your business plans for the next few years? Are there any skills that need to be developed for future projects or in areas of expertise? Do your employees have the proper training for you to go after new work? 

Determining the business goals can help a lot with the goals of the individual. Make sure your company org charts are updated and give a clear picture of the business hierarchy. This can help employees look ahead to possible career paths. 

2. Establish Employee Goals Regularly 

Setting aside time to discuss short- and long-term goals with an employee helps establish a career path and growth opportunities. 

This can start when onboarding an employee. Have your employee take a self-assessment and/or discuss their technical experience to discover their current skill set and identify any gaps they may have. 

Another great way to tell what an employee does or does not know is by pairing them with an experienced team member to shadow jobs. The more experienced employee will be able to observe strengths and growth potential while the new employee is on the job. 

Through one-on-one meetings, assessments or just observing the person work,  determine the person’s strengths and weaknesses. Are they strong with pipe systems but lack sewer pipe knowledge? Use this knowledge to work with the employee to set 2-3 goals that will help them grow their skills and your company.

This leads to the next step which is creating an action plan to meet goals. 

3. Define Steps and Resources to Achieve Goals

In this step you figure out the steps an employee should take to achieve the goals you identified in the previous step. 

This may be professional training, or taking on more jobs in a certain area to practice certain skills. For more experienced plumbers, they may grow leadership skills by mentoring apprentices or working closely as a liaison to office staff. 

If you identify specific training needs then it’s time to help provide the resources to address them. Don’t leave your plumbing employee to figure it out alone! You might help them research training courses, hands-on trainings or resources such as books or videos. 

Most importantly, a manager or more senior team member should be checking in on goals and achievements regularly. This is where mentors come into play as well! 

4. Designate Mentors 

A mentorship involves assigning an experienced person in a business with a less experienced person. This guidance can be a real game changer in training and retaining plumbing employees. 

A recent study found that 97% of employees with a mentor feel like they are highly impactful and valuable. Mentoring is a strong asset for keeping employees motivated and happy. Plus, mentors can play a key part in keeping individual and company goals on track.

A mentorship program, once established, sets a new standard in a business. Mentors breed mentors: 89% of employees mentored will become mentors themselves. Also those who are mentored are 5 times more likely to be promoted and mentors are 6 times more likely.  

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You’re Career Path Ready!

Now that you have discovered the advantages of establishing a plumbing career path, it’s time to get going on those goals! Your employees will be more engaged and satisfied with their current and potential opportunities if you follow these steps.

In this article we covered:

  • The benefits of establishing a career path
  • How to map out a career path

Related: 5 Tips for Hiring Successful Plumbing Sales Reps


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