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By Spartan Tool, Published 08/02/2018

It is well documented that there is a shortage of people going into the skilled trades[1],[2],[3]. Different theories for this shortage have been suggested, with the two most popular seeming to be the push for everyone to go to college and that many tradespeople changed careers following the Great Recession of a decade ago. Whatever the cause, we have heard multiple employers bemoan the search for men and women willing to enter the drain cleaning industry.

Why should people consider a career in drain cleaning? That question is best answered by the people currently on the job. When asked, those people working in the industry cited several benefits: good pay, college degree not needed, the potential to run your own company, and a recession-proof industry among other reasons.

The average cost charged for a job can vary widely based on the type of job and the region of the country. The same can be said about the average pay for a sewer and drain cleaner. We surveyed drain cleaners and plumbers from across the country about what they charge for various jobs and what the average pay is for drain cleaning. Cleaning residential lines with a cable machine is the most common job encountered by most drain cleaners. For these types of jobs, the charge is generally in the range of $75 to $130 per hour or a flat fee of $99 to $350. Jetting jobs require more powerful and expensive equipment, therefore the charge is higher. On average, a 1 to2 hour job with a portable jetter (residential or small commercial) is between $200 and $400 for the first hour, with additional hours costing less. A one to two hour job with a skid mount or trailer jet (larger commercial and municipalities) runs between $500 and $800 per hour.

The pay for a drain cleaner can vary from $12 to $43.50 per hour, with the average being between $16.83 and $22.81 per hour[4],[5] depending on the level of experience and region of the country. This equates to $25,000 to $90,000 annually. As with most jobs, one’s pay will increase as experience and seniority increase. Technicians who work for larger companies may have the opportunity to move into training of new technicians or into management.

Besides the opportunity for good pay, another perk considered by some drain cleaners is the opportunity to work for yourself. To start your own drain cleaning business you have to consider the cost of the machines, transportation, advertisement, insurance, and billing. Quality cable machines can run from $300 to over $4,000 plus accessories. However, a drain cleaner can start a small business with just a few machines and a work vehicle, which makes it attainable for many people who are willing to work hard to be their own boss.

Many of these businesses are family-run, where a husband and wife will run the business together, doing both the drain cleaning jobs and the bookkeeping. Sometimes other family members will help out, including sons and daughters, passing the family business from one generation to the next.

Finally, there is job security in drain cleaning. This is a job that can’t be outsourced. Drain cleaners serve their immediate communities, and often know their customers personally. When you provide great service, especially in a small community, word travels fast and a business can flourish. And drains don’t stop getting clogged when the country is in a recession. While customers may wait until the situation is a crisis before calling a drain cleaner, they MUST call one when the toilet won’t flush or the sewer line has backed up into the basement.

At the time of this writing, Indeed.com had 1,425 drain cleaner technician jobs listed all across the U.S. with many companies saying they are willing to train new techs. This is a career that won’t be going down the toilet!

[1] https://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2018/04/25/605092520/high-paying-trade-jobs-sit-empty-while-high-school-grads-line-up-for-university

[2] http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/columnists/ct-trades-jobs-shortage-robert-reed-0822-biz-20170821-column.html

[3] https://www.plumbermag.com/how-to-articles/small_business_marketing_plumbing/phcc_addresses_workforce_shortage

[4] https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Sewer-System-&-Drain-Cleaning-Technician-Salaries

[5] https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Roto--rooter-Plumbing-&-Drain-Service/salaries

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