Do Plumbers Earn More Than Teachers or Doctors or Cabbies?

Some mums have told me that they feel embarrassed to say their husbands are in the building trade when other parents have university degrees, are doctors and teachers.  There is no reason to be and if success and status is ONLY measured by monetary income then there is good reason to be proud of your hard working husbands.  Research by S Dale & A B Krueger in the US has shown that, on average, plumbers earn about the same as medical doctors and both earn lots more than teachers.

The researchers examined the life time disposable income of 4 theoretical people who all achieved good grades at school and all retired at 62.  Figures are based on published data for average salaries of each person for every year of their different careers. At age 50 income peaked and the medical GP made $186K, teachers between $90 to $103k and at 50 the plumber only earned $72,000.

When you take account of the expenses each professional incurred studying for their profession and the number of years in financially rewarding work the income over the lifetime of employment is very different. Averaged out over a life time the typical US annual spending power for 4 professionals is as follows:

  • Plumber $33.2k
  • Doctor $33.7k
  • Teacher with MA $26.5k
  • Teacher without MA $27.6k

The doctor who went on the medical school and some low paid long hours training has less than $500 per year more than the plumber.

I don’t know how this would compare to disposable income in the UK because obviously there are differences.

One thing my American friends have told me is that plumbing is very different in the US. Here we call gas heating engineers plumbers whereas I am told that in the US plumbers and Heating Ventilation & Air Conditioning engineers are a very different profession.

I don’t know about American plumbers but plumbers/heating engineers in this country will have A level equivallent qualifications, have had an apprenticeship and will have had continuous education and assessment throughout their career.  Failure to keep up to date and pass the exams would mean they were disqualified from working with gas.  It is not a career path for the less able and it particularly requires strong mathematical ability.

So back to the school gates, personally I think that doesn’t sound like a great place to hang out if parents are in competition with each other.

When I lived in London I met qualified doctors who chose to work as London Mini cab drivers and run Kebab shops for the better income not for status!

I first came across this study via a link to their blog from a tweet by

4 Responses to “Do Plumbers Earn More Than Teachers or Doctors or Cabbies?”

  1. 1 March 23, 2014 at 3:08 am

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    • 2 mrstaraplumbing March 23, 2014 at 3:51 pm

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  1. 1 Plumbers earn as much as Doctors in USA Trackback on June 24, 2011 at 11:29 am
  2. 2 Plumbers earn as much as Doctors in USA | Bath Shower Mixers Trackback on June 26, 2011 at 8:13 am

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