Plumbing is a normal day to day term used by Americans, but where did the word plumbing come from? Where did plumbers who fix our clogged drains and broken pipes get their title from? The answer very well might surprise you.
The term plumber and plumbing does not come from anything in the modern world, it actually comes from ancient Roman times. When the Roman Empire was the epitome of civilization, they used lead pipes within their cities. Lead was called plumbum. Lead was used for many things within the Roman Empire. Lead was used on the roofs of Roman buildings. Drain pipes also were made of lead. The famous Roman baths also used lead piping to bring water to them. Then as medieval times continued, anyone who worked with lead was called a plumbarius. Later the word for anyone working with pipes, especially water and sewer pipes was shortened from plumbarius to the modern word plumber.
As a side note, this is also why the abbreviation for lead in the periodic table of elements is Pb.
Today, if you were to look in the dictionary under the word plumber, you would find a simple definition that explains that a plumber is one who installs and repairs pipes and plumbing.
When you look up plumbing, you would see a definition of what a plumbing system really is. In most definitions, plumbing includes three aspects of the plumbing systems which are fixtures, apparatus, and of course pipes. Plumbing can also include not just water and sewer, but gas pipes as well.
Today plumbing is a very common job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are approximately four hundred and twenty thousand plumbers working in the United States of America. Most plumbers are making just over twenty dollars per hour, and just over forty six thousand dollars per year. Plumbers do not need a college degree. Most plumbers have a high school education, and then have been trained through an apprenticeship. There are no federal laws about plumbing licenses, but each state has their own regulations for how plumbers should be licensed and educated within their jurisdiction.
So plumbing is very popular today as a career, but as popular as it is in the United States, it will never change the fact that the trade of plumbing and the name that goes along with it came from much farther back in time, back to the time of the Roman Empire.