A Career in Plumbing: Starr Delgado’s Story
If you would have told Starr Delgado 19 years ago that she’d become a plumbing instructor, she would have called you crazy. She didn’t see plumbing as a career path that she would enjoy, though she now has a successful plumbing career in Grafton, Massachusetts.
But even as a kid, Delgado knew that plumbers make a good living. On family trips to Hampton Beach, an older family member pointed out the large houses along the coast, saying, “That’s where all of the plumbers live.”
Finding the Right Career Path
Though it planted a seed in her mind that plumbers get to live in big houses because of their successful careers, she made plans to become a certified nursing assistant. When she wasn't able to complete the program, her family pushed her to complete her high school diploma and find a new career path.
In 1998, Delgado studied at Grafton Job Corps Center and graduated from the program in 2001. She went to the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union with a certificate in plumbing from the Home Builders Institute (HBI), where she now serves as a plumbing instructor.
Building a Better Life with a Plumbing Career
Plumbing has given Delgado a life she never expected to have. Today, she owns a home and has savings built up for her and her son. She’s working to provide him with a better life than she experienced.
Though she works hard, Delgado has plenty of time after work to hang out with her family in the backyard, grill out and do other things that they enjoy together.
That’s not the only rewarding part of her job. She considers her relationships with her students as one of the most fulfilling aspects. As a plumbing instructor, she gets to invest in their lives and instill the love for the industry in them just as her first instructor did for her.
Starr Delgado (left) instructing plumbing student at HBI facility.
“Somebody’s going to have my story,” Delgado said. “Someone’s going to say, ‘I had this instructor, Ms. Delgado, and she never gave up on me. The hardest of the hardest kids come through these doors, and they turn out to be something amazing.”
Encouraging Women in the Industry
One of the best things about the industry, according to Delgado, is that you don’t have to be a master plumber to make money. You can make a great career even from the skills learned in a trade program like HBI. And plumbing is an industry in desperate need of talented women like Delgado.
“There are always going to be challenges for women in the field,” said Delgado. “People are always going to say, ‘You can’t, you shouldn’t or don’t.’ But if you say, “I’m going to, I can and I will” and stay focused, you can do it. You just have to have some thick skin.
“Being a plumber is an amazing career to me. I didn’t think so when I was a kid, but I love it now, and if my son wants to be a plumber, that’s okay with me.”