How did you get into the profession?
When I had my first child, I dropped out of nursing school, and after a few years, I decided to follow in my dad's footsteps and join the Plumber’s Union. Out of ten children, I am the only one to do so.
What advice do you have for those who may be considering pursuing skilled trades?
As a career, it's sustainable and self-fulfilling. I wouldn't trade it for any other. My advice is always be open to learning and eager to try. Can-do attitudes go a long way with mentors and seniors in the trade. Never shut out advice, because one day down the road you may bump into a situation where that is the only option to get the job done.
What’s one misperception that people have about your job?
That physicality is priority. This career not only requires both mind and body equally, but has space for all shapes, sizes, and genders. The amazing thing about plumbing is that the trade is so vast, it's impossible for any one person to have the skillset to do every aspect. If that's the case, I do not see how anyone can compartmentalize who belongs and who doesn't. If there's a will there's a way!
What are your future aspirations?
My next steps will be starting up my own business. It's a very new avenue I am looking into it after nine months of no union contractors being able to provide work. My passion is plumbing. If other companies don't have the work to keep me busy, I will go out and find it myself.
“If other companies don't have the work to keep me busy, I will go out and find it myself.”
Why are you #MakerProud?
I am #MakerProud mostly because I feel what I do leaves a piece of me everywhere I go. Whether it’s the tallest building in Philadelphia, where I can point and tell my kids “I built that,” to the inch and a half drain I spent three hours trying to clear, where three men had previously been unsuccessful!
“I am #MakerProud mostly because I feel what I do leaves a piece of me everywhere I go.”
I not only have a hand in building America, I have the personal satisfaction of being able to restore safe and sanitary plumbing to individual Americans. We protect the health of the nations and that is something to be proud of!
Find Kelly on Instagram at @tinyplumbergirl.