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Why this plumbing program is a hot ticket

MoneyWatch headlines
MoneyWatch headlines 01:09

It might be a pipe dream, but that didn't stop hundreds of men and women from camping out on a steamy sidewalk in Queens, New York, this weekend for a chance to join a plumbing union's apprentice program.

The Plumbers Local 1 Training Center handed out only 1,000 applications for the 5-year program, although only a small percentage of applicants will be accepted, reported WCBS-TV reporter Ali Bauman.

And many of the applicants already are plumbers. So what's the draw?

"The 'A' guys top out at $67 an hour. The 'B' guys top out at $40 an hour," said Anthony Sala, one of those waiting to apply to the program. Another told Bauman the the program comes with really good benefits and pay.

"I wanted to beat the line. I wanted to be first. I wanted to come here so I can get an application," Anthony Hughes said.

The applicants may be on to something. According to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual pay for plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters was $50,620. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to enter the field. And the growth outlook is good, with 12 percent growth projected from 2014-2024.

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