Thursday, July 05, 2007

Apprenticed Trades

Too bad so many people think that a university education is mandatory after
high school. If my children show little interest in university studies, I'll
counsel them towards apprenticed trades like plumbing and electrical work.

We had a plumber and his apprentice show up today to fix some plumbing issues.
The plumber billed $67/hour and his apprentice billed $37/hour (including two
hours of drive time). I wish I made that kind of money while I was in school.
Are there many situations better than having someone pay you to learn a
valuable skill?

On top of the high wages, these two plumbers were scheduled two weeks out. The
wages and the backlog are the market trying to persuade people into this field.
Maybe it's a Wyoming boom-effect, but a young kid needs a serious reason not to
go into one of these two fields. After apprenticeship, you could live just
about anywhere you want, set your own hours and earn a comfortable living,
leaving you plenty of time for family and hobbies. The only cost is facing a
stigma about not attending university.

I'm all for less stigma and more heeding the market.


JJGames said...

I couldn't agree more. I knew so many friends in college who hated school and what they were learning but loved cars and fixing them up. They should go to automotive school and do what they enjoy. Plus, the Wall Street Journal had a story a while back saying mechanics in major cities make over six figures.

Good pay and you can enjoy your job.

TanookiTravis said...

I'm kinda surprised they charged you for the apprentice's time rather than one single fee for the plumber. So are you basically paying for the apprentice then or does the plumbing company take any of the cost? Makes me wonder if just the head plumber came out would it have cost you $37/hour less to get the same job done?

Either way though, that's a pretty sweet way to make a living. It's just like college but you are getting more specific training and you are getting paid rather than the other way around.

TanookiTravis said...

I totally believe you JJ about the mechanics. I had one valve clogged in my car and it cost $780 to fix it. They had to have had somewhere around 50% profit margins on that one sale because I found the valve online after the fact (what good that does) for close to $90.

I feel great about that purchase. [/sarcasm]

mndrix said...

jjgames: good point. I forgot about auto mechanics.

tanookitravis: the apprentice actually did a fair amount of work. We had three separate plumbing problems which lent itself well to parallelization. I assume that they wouldn't have billed us had the apprentice not done anything but watch.

Although even at an effective rate of $104/hour, it's pretty typical. I was talking to someone yesterday who used to charge $90/hour just for snaking a pipe. That didn't include any other kind of plumbing work, just the easy stuff.

mndrix said...

Ah, but TanookiTravis, would you have known which part to look for if they hadn't done it in the first place? Probably bad customer relations to stick it to you on the part, but just consider it part of their hourly rate.

TanookiTravis said...

The worst part in the end of it all was that after the diagnostic, which cost $105, was that I would have known where to put it once I knew what it was. It's literally a screw off/screw on process.

But either way, the service engine light has only come on twice in the 6 times I've driven the car since then, so things must really be fixed. Or maybe not.