Best-Paying U.S. Cities for Plumbers in 2021

While 2020 was a year that many industries would soon like to forget, plumbers’ popularity hit all-time highs. 

According to Google search trends, searches for local plumbers and other contractors hit their highest levels in five years as more homeowners launched home improvement projects during the pandemic. Whether those homeowners had enough cash to pay for repairs and renovations or tried to do the work themselves and ran into trouble, the result was the same: a call or email to the local plumber.


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Search data isn’t the only metric to support the rise in plumber contracting, either. In a September 2020 interview with NPR, Porch.com Chief Economist Max Anderson noted that Americans are spending more on home improvements than they have in the history of the United States—a trend fueled by more time at home, low interest rates, and limited housing inventory.

With business booming, plumbing could be an appealing field of work. As with many service jobs, becoming a plumber doesn’t require a college degree. Rather, individuals can enroll in affordable trade schools or participate in an apprenticeship to sharpen their skill set. The typical plumber makes $56,330 annually, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and the field will grow by 4% by 2029. That growth will open up nearly 21,000 new plumbing jobs in the next eight years. With the plumbing business bursting at the proverbial seams, we looked at where annual wages are on the rise.

On a national scale, plumbers earn 34.3% more than the median annual wage for all works, according to data from the BLS. And while the national-level data indicates that being a plumber provides above-average pay, state-level data shows a highly regional industry where plumbers in the Midwest make far more than their counterparts in the Southwest, Southeast, and the Mid-Atlantic.


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After adjusting for cost-of-living, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska are among the states with the highest median annual wage for plumbers. High wages aren’t confined to the Midwest, though. Alaska has the second highest cost-of-living-adjusted wage for plumbers, while Oregon is fourth. Illinois pays the most with an adjusted salary of $95,544, followed by Alaska ($83,730) and Minnesota ($80,408). Those salaries are in stark contrast to the states with the three lowest adjusted wages: Florida ($43,119), New Mexico ($48,079), and North Carolina ($48,288). The disparity between Midwest states and the Southwest and Southeast is so great, adjusted yearly pay for plumbers in Illinois is more than Florida and New Mexico combined.

To find the best-paying locations for plumbers, researchers at Construction Coverage used wage and employment data from the BLS and cost-of-living data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. For each location, the median annual wage for plumbers was adjusted up or down based on the relative cost of living. In expensive areas, wages were adjusted down to reflect lower purchasing power, while wages in less expensive areas were adjusted up to reflect greater purchasing power. Researchers also calculated the relative concentration of plumbers in each location compared to the national level.

Only locations with at least 100,000 people and available data from both the BLS and BEA were included in the analysis. Additionally, metropolitan areas were grouped into cohorts based on population size:

  • Large: 1 million or more
  • Midsize: 350,000–999,999 people
  • Small: 100,000–349,999 people

Here are the best-paying U.S. metropolitan areas for plumbers.

Best-Paying Large Metros for Plumbers

Hartford, CT

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15. Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $67,044
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $68,720
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $53,030
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -29.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +2.5%

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Louisville, KY

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14. Louisville/Jefferson County, KY-IN

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $67,444
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $60,430
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $39,330
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): +33.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -10.4%
Boston, MA

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13. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $67,567
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $78,040
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $57,080
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): +9.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +15.5%
Pittsburgh, PA

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12. Pittsburgh, PA

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $68,561
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $63,350
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $43,200
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -18.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -7.6%
Kansas City, MO

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11. Kansas City, MO-KS

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $68,976
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $64,010
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $43,200
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): +6.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -7.2%
Seattle, WA

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10. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $70,699
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $80,950
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $58,330
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -23.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +14.5%
Buffalo, NY

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9. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $74,095
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $70,020
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $42,040
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -21.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -5.5%
Portland, OR

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8. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $75,610
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $79,390
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $48,050
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): +29.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +5.0%
Cleveland, OH

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7. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $76,296
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $68,590
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $42,740
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -44.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -10.1%
Milwaukee, WI

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6. Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, WI

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $76,554
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $72,420
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $43,380
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -21.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -5.4%
Detroit, MI

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5. Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, MI

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $77,996
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $74,330
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $44,840
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -4.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -4.7%
San Francisco, CA

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4. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $82,439
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $110,880
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $61,790
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -21.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +34.5%
Minneapolis, MN

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3. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $86,511
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $89,020
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $49,700
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): +24.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +2.9%
St. Louis, MO

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2. St. Louis, MO-IL

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $89,423
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $80,570
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $42,060
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): +11.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): -9.9%
Chicago, IL

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1. Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI

  • Median annual wage for plumbers (adjusted): $94,270
  • Median annual wage for plumbers (actual): $96,910
  • Median annual wage for all workers (actual): $45,420
  • Relative concentration of plumbers (compared to average): -4.0%
  • Relative cost of living (compared to average): +2.8%

Methodology & Detailed Findings

To find the best-paying locations for plumbers, researchers at Construction Coverage used wage and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program and cost-of-living data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ (BEA) Regional Price Parity dataset.

For each location, the median annual wage for plumbers was adjusted according to the relative cost of living. In locations with higher living costs, wages were adjusted down to reflect lower purchasing power, while wages in locations with lower living costs were adjusted up to reflect greater purchasing power. Researchers also calculated the relative concentration of plumbers in each location, which is the location’s percentage difference from the national concentration (measured as the total number of plumbers divided by the total number of workers across all occupations).

Only locations with at least 100,000 people and available data from both the BLS and BEA were included in the analysis. Additionally, metropolitan areas were grouped into cohorts based on population size: small (100,000–349,999), midsize (350,000–999,999), and large (1,000,000 or more).

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