When you hear the word “plumber” a few stereotypes immediately come to mind. You picture someone spending quite a bit of time either hunched under a sink or working in a bathroom. Someone who doesn’t always come off as polished.

Ben Morgan thought those things. Then he changed his life by becoming a plumber. After 8 years on the job, he’s here to set the record straight about the business and the professionals who are proud to call themselves plumbers.

“First, plumbers wear overalls on the job, so that visual you’re thinking about, doesn’t happen very often. Second, we don’t spend our days working on sinks or in toilets, which came as a surprise to me when I first started looking into the plumbing industry.” Ben is part of Omaha Plumbers Local Union No.16. He works on job sites, configuring and installing piping systems in everything from multilevel buildings to new home construction.

“You also need to know that math plays a huge role in my job. I use it every day to connect pipes and configure piping systems. Having basic math skills is a must for anyone pursuing a career in the field of construction.” Addition, subtraction, long division, fractions, algebra and trigonometry – you’d be surprised about the amount of math Ben knows and uses all day on the site.

“Plumbing is a learned skill. You’re an apprentice for 5 years before you receive your plumbing license. As an apprentice, you’re working on jobsites during the day and going to classes at night. That first year of school is math intensive — you’re building on what you already learned in high school. So my advice to kids is pay attention in math class because you’re going to use it in the real world. I see guys on the site who can’t do a simple equation and I just shake my head. They have to learn to do it and they have to learn fast, otherwise they’re not going to last.”

Ben thinks back to his first day on the job, “Forget math, I didn’t even know how to use a tape measure,” a memory that makes him laugh. “It’s amazing how much I learned in the 8 years doing this. How much I’ve grown personally, professionally and financially. I’m not in debt. I live in a great house and I’ve met some incredible people. I love what I do. I’m constantly challenged and always learning. This isn’t an easy job, but it’s a rewarding one.”

At night, after a long day at work, Ben teaches plumbing classes. It’s his way of giving back to the apprenticeship that helped him get started. “If I had to give advice to high school students, I’d say college isn’t your only option. If you don’t want to be in debt yet you still want to work in a field where you can move up in the ranks, make great money and continue to grow and learn, then look at a construction program. I can tell you right now, it’s nothing like you think it is.”