To most of us in Singapore, a career choice will most likely be between working for a large MNC, financial institutions like banks or join our local government in public services (as our local government pays quite well). Of course, there will be some entrepreneurs who may start their own business but rarely will one consider trades such as plumbing and water works as such trades are considered unglamorous and with low pay. However, in this article, I highlighted some information on supply and demand related to this trade which may change your perception and even consider building a career in the plumbing industry.
Firstly, let us examine the demand of plumbing services in Singapore. There are about 1119600* residential households in year 2009. The housing boom in year 2010 saw more houses added this year as well as more housing projects to be completed in year 2011 and 2012. With just a low estimate of 1% of the local household requiring some plumbing services daily, this is a whopping 12,000 plumbing cases to attend to. This figure excludes plumbing works required for new construction projects, commercial offices, HDB upgrading projects as well as current business owners who face plumbing emergencies in their offices or shops. If we add this to the residential households ‘demand, you can easily see that there are plenty more of plumbing jobs required daily.
In Singapore, all plumbing works can only be done by a licensed plumber. Looking at the supply side, a check with Pub- Singapore’ national water agency saw only about 800 plus** licensed plumbers in Singapore. This low supply of plumbers means that each plumber will have more than enough jobs to handle daily. Besides that, due to the huge demand of plumbing services from the construction industry in Singapore, a high percentage of licensed plumbers are only involved in commercial projects as mentioned above, further reducing the already low supply of licensed plumbers. A simple estimation means that each plumber can easily be called for 3-5 jobs daily.
Lastly, we look at the compensation of plumbers for their works. Plumber charges can range from $60 to clear a simple chokage to more than $1,000 to repair and relay the water pipes. If we take any average of $150 per plumbing job, this can easily work out to be a daily wage of $450 to $750. Multiply this by an average of 23 working days; this is a whopping $10,350 to $17,250! This is so much higher than the average wage in Singapore and can even match the compensation of many high level management executives.
If you can ignore the unglamorous part of this trade as well as the smelly mess, it can really be profitable to be a licensed plumber in Singapore. The next time you engage a Singapore plumber, don’t be fooled by his simple dressing and casual appearance, his bank account can be so much fatter than yours.
*Source: Singapore Department of Statistics
**Source: PUB- Singapore’ national water agency.