Plumber Vs. Technician: Is There A Difference?

Plumber vs. Technician


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We came across an interesting article in a great industry online newsletter asking the question, what’s the difference between a plumber and a technician?

Although we tend to disagree with how it was answered, we definitely thought it was worth talking about, especially since at Bill Howe Plumbing, we tend to use these terms interchangeably.

In our expert opinion, and we have worked hard for over 35 years to be experts in San Diego plumbing, it boils down to semantics. The most important question consumers should be focused on is whether or not the professionals they hire are in fact professionals, whether they use the term plumbers or technicians!

Webster’s Dictionary defines each term as follows:

Plumber, noun

  1. a person who installs and repairs piping, fixtures, appliances, and appurtenances in connection with the water supply, drainage systems,etc., both in and out of buildings.

Technician, noun

  1. a person who is trained or skilled in the technicalities of a subject or occupation.

Both definitions are correct, but they leave out so much about the profession of plumbing that truly affects home and business owners facing problems.

In the article, it was mentioned that anyone can watch a YouTube video and learn how to DIY a plumbing problem, install an appliance, snake a drain. While YouTube is a great resource to help people do small jobs on their own, there are handyman out there using it as a learning tool and it doesn’t mean it is being done correctly, safely and up to Plumbing Code. And in San Diego, plumber or technician doesn’t always mean you’re getting someone trained and skilled. There are very few laws protecting you from someone who professes to be “right for the job.”

A technician sounds fancy, skilled, educated and qualified, but anyone can call themselves a technician. And a licensed professional plumber with training and education and years of experience is a skilled craftsman worthy of a lofty title, but may simply choose to call themselves the “plumber!”

Many of our own Bill Howe plumbers are licensed Journeyman in San Diego, having gone through the required 4-year program with rigorous training and assessment. Many of our plumbers prefer the term plumber. They are proud of their training and skill, proud to serve San Diego ethically, professionally, and safely. In fact, at Bill Howe, we have over 80 San Diego plumbers and technicians (across divisions) with over 600 years of combined service at our company alone. That doesn’t even account for the years of experience they bring with them when joining the Bill Howe team.

So when you have a problem, whether it is a clogged sink, gas leak, water heater in need of service or replacement, or any number of issues that fall under the vast realm of “Plumbing,” ask yourself not what your professional should be called, but are they qualified for that job.

Check the California State License Board and ensure that any individual or company entering your home has the appropriate license without blemishes. Most plumbing contractors hold a C-36 and must maintain high standards and insurance to protect your assets. If they are being sent out form one of the larger companies in San Diego, make sure the technician, or plumber, shows up in uniform with a marked vehicle displaying the company’s license number(s), introduce themselves, and take pride in what they are doing. Are they a member of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors Association in San Diego; an organization whose mission is to protect the safety and health of the community?

These are the factors to take into consideration when hiring your professional in San Diego. And of course, Bill Howe Plumbing is all of these things, and has been for over 35 years. But, we are also part of a strong community of great professionals all working towards the same goal-our customers’ safety, our employees’ success, and our communities’ benefit.

When in doubt, call 1-800 BILL HOWE (245-5469), the trusted name in San Diego since 1980.

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