A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for potable (drinking) water, sewage, drainage, or industrial process plant piping. In most jurisdictions the piping for HVAC, fire protection, and industrial systems are installed by 'steam-fitters', 'pipe-fitters', or 'gas-fitters' tradespeople. Many in these trades are members of organized labor groups (unions), while many are non-union. Years of training and/or experience are needed to become a skilled plumber; many jurisdictions also require that plumbers be licensed. A Master Plumber is one who has demonstrated mastery of the trade of plumbing within the complete aspect of all genre of the craft, or in one specifically. eg: Residential, commercial, institutional, multi family dwellings, underground municiplal, and high volume, long distance, transmission systems. This type of "Master Plumber" may have worked in a single genre of the trade as a whole for many years, or may have experience in multiple generes' of the plumbing trade. Persons recognised, either formally, or informally, as a Master of their trade typically provide consultancy to developers, and even assistance to new plumbers in the trade, while overseeing large or even small plumbing projects.
Plumbers in the United Kingdom generally undertake the installation of domestic internal hot and cold water pipe work, sanitary fittings and related soil and waste pipe work systems. Domestic, commercial and Industrial gas-fired (central) heating installation, servicing and repair works, and works related to all other gas fired appliances, although undertaken by plumbers, also involves the use of other 'sub-trades' such as pipe fitters, gas fitters etc and (in the case of gas fired appliances) is ineffectively regulated by an organisation called CORGI (with whom such individuals and organisations are supposed to be registered before working in this sphere), which although entrusted by the UK Government to control works related to this field, have no direct means of controlling or policing such works and are generally only involved in issues arising after the works are completed (and invariably, an accident has occurred). As a consequence there is a large quantity of work undertaken by unregistered, unqualified individuals, which is invariably a risk to the health and welfare of the user.
Oil fired heating appliance installation, servicing and maintenance works must be undertaken by OFTEC registered individuals and Companies in order to operate in the UK and due to the complexity of this type of installation and the relatively small number of oil burning appliances (compared to gas usage) this type of licensing is generally effective in this instance, despite OFTEC generally operating in the same way as CORGI.
Furthermore, because air conditioning design and installation is perceived to be too complex for plumbers to undertake and legislation related to the use and correct disposal of refrigerant for use in the air-conditioning field, air conditioning is considered to be a separate trade in the UK.
Plumbers install and repair pipes, fittings, fixtures, and other plumbing equipment used for water distribution, waste water disposal, and venting in residential, commercial, institutional, and industrial buildings. Plumbing is a traditional field that typically pays well, has good job security, and currently has need of qualified individuals in many locations worldwide. Many plumbers begin their careers in plumbing as helpers to established plumbers, while others enter formal training institutes. Although formal training is desirable to becoming a Master Plumber it is not required. It is accepted that training under a master plumber may be substituted in lieu of formal training. There are states within the U.S.A. that require a plumber to be licenced in order to contract for work. To obtain a licence, in those states that require it, the person must pass a written test. They then need only meet the requirements for bonding, and insurances, as may be required. No skill tests are given.
The word plumber dates from the Roman Empire. In Roman times, pipes were made of lead, or plumbum in Latin (hence the periodic table of the elements symbol of Pb for lead). Thus, a person with expertise in working with pipes was known as a Plumbarius, which was eventually shortened to plumber.
The term "plumbers" was a popular name given to the covert White House Special Investigations Unit established on July 24th, 1971 during the presidency of Richard Nixon. Their job was to plug intelligence leaks in the U.S. Government relating to the Vietnam War (i.e. the Pentagon Papers); hence the term "plumbers". In the early morning hours of June 17th, 1972, the "plumbers" were arrested while breaking into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. The resulting Watergate scandal and cover-up led to the eventual resignation of President Nixon on August 8th, 1974..