How to Become a Plumber: A Career Guide

Have you ever realized how important plumbers are in our lives? We call them when we need to fit or repair our water system, heating system and drainage network. But actually they do a lot more than just fitting or repairing the pipes. A plumber makes our lives comfortable and saves us from a gas leak! And they earn adequate reward in return.

Plumbing is referred to as a “recession-proof” profession! That means it’s a highly stable and good-paying career. So, why not try to make it your own profession? But of course, it’s important to know how to become a plumber first. You are probably planning right now to-

  • Understand the job first
  • Research the prospect of the career
  • Taking proper training
  • Buying some tools!
  • Getting a license

What Does a Plumber Do?

We all know what a plumber does and what’s his job because everyone needs to call a plumber when changing home or fitting a new sanitary system or even we call them if there is any leak of water or gas pipe. But a plumber can do a variety of tasks. 

Actually it depends on the job at hand what is the responsibility of a plumber. But they do much more than just fixing the leaky pipes. Their responsibilities include-

  • Reading blueprints, Drawings and specifications to understand the problem with water supply, waste, ventilation and temperature.
  • Inspecting and detecting problems in plumbing appliances and finding out the causes.
  • Understanding every type of piping system.
  • Installing, repairing and maintaining domestic and commercial water, drainage and heating systems.
  • Fitting domestic appliances like showers and kitchen water supply.
  • Locating and marking positions of any leak or break.
  • Measuring, cutting, bending and threading pipes with hands and tools.
  • Joining pipes and fittings together and weld fillings.
  • Ensuring safety standards and community regulations.

Job Prospects of Qualified Plumbers

As it was explained earlier, we always need plumbers and that’s why plumbing is a stable and high-paying profession with lots of opportunities. nationalcareers.service says that a plumber can earn £15,000 – £40,000 a year based on qualification and experience.

Although it takes time, training and experience to become a good plumber you can start with a satisfactory earning. It’s possible to go to the next level of plumbing career sooner by developing skills and taking training in heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and renewable energy technologies. If you know how to become a good plumber the subsequent journey will be nicer and smoother.

Salary of a Plumber

Salary of a Plumber

Plumbing is a well-regulated and rewarding profession in the United Kingdom. Plumbers here need to pass level 2 and level 3 vocational training from authorized institutions. There are several regulatory bodies to provide accredited plumbing qualifications.

A qualified plumber with a full NVQ Level 3 qualification can start the career with £18,000 – £20,000 per year on an average in the UK. But he can reach up to £32,000 within years. The median annual salary of a master plumber is £40,000. But highly qualified and experienced plumbers can earn more than that. Besides, self-employed plumbers can set their own rates.

The paying rates are higher in London and it depends on the employer.

Working Hours and Conditions

Typically plumbers work 37-40 hours a week. Plumbing isn’t a 9-to-5 job. You could work evening, weekend or even on holidays (especially if you or your employer offers emergency-call-out services) as the customers demand. Most of the plumbers work locally but you can travel far away on some contracts.

Working environment may be cramped and sometimes a plumber needs to work at height and outdoors for a while. Working hours may exceed 40 hours depending on the job. As plumbing is a serious job related to health and safety you must maintain government regulations and community standards. To work with domestic gas and heating systems be registered on the Gas Safe Register.

Stable, Lucrative and Rewarding Profession

Plumbing is a stable and high-paying job around the world. The working hours can be long, call outs can mean you work at unsociable hours and it needs longer time and proper training to become a qualified plumber but after all the effort this is a very potential career especially in the United Kingdom.

Because of the strict regulation on training, licensing and apprenticeship hardworking and highly skilled people do good in this field. After the apprenticeship it’s possible to start working under your own employment or start a small business, you just have to be a member of the local unior and pay fees yearly.

What Do You Need to Become a Plumber

What Do You Need to Become a Plumber

Now it’s time to discuss how to become a qualified and successful plumber. As it is the first obstacle as well as opportunity to build a strong skill base and it determines how the rest of your career is going to be, each process of acquiring the training, starting the job and developing in the career are described here briefly.

To become a plumber it takes time, patience and training from an authorized professional institution. Because the plumbing system is one of the most important and integral parts of our contemporary infrastructure and it’s the part directly related to our health and safety.

So, you have to be prepared to take a college degree or vocational training, work as an apprentice and finally get the license.

 

To become a plumber-

  • You must be aged 18 or above
  • You must have a high school diploma or vocational training (NVQ level 2 in England and wales, SVQ level 3 in Schotland)
  • You have to pass a basic math test
  • You have to pass a drug test
  • Requires basic computer knowledge and ability to follow technical drawings and plans
  • Needs training either at a trade school or community college or online platform
  • You have to complete the apprenticeship and get a license.

Plumbing Schools

Unlike other trades, plumbing requires research skills, basic mathematics and critical thinking ability. So, a high school or college degree can accelerate your career. In some cases, plumbers also learn basic wiring and carpentry and some others even go for an engineering degree in heating and air-conditioning technology or renewable energy.

You could do a level 2 and 3 diploma in domestic plumbing, air-conditioning and heating technology. This will help to understand the job properly and the certificate will be beneficial then applying for a job.

Entry requirements:

Applying for a college degree usually need-

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grade 9 to 3 or equivalent for level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 or equivalent for level level 3 course

More information:

Training and Apprenticeship

Besides high school or college degrees it’s also possible to start a plumbing career by getting vocational training from a trade school or online platform.

Alternatively you can enter this profession by taking an apprenticeship in which you will learn and get hands-on experience from a professional plumber and at the same time earn handsome cash. Choose from an intermediate and advanced apprenticeship in plumbing and domestic heating. Generally apprenticeship can take up to 4 years.

Apprenticeship is like old school training where as a beginner you will be trained under an expert. An apprentice learns the necessary knowledge and training to work in the field of plumbing.

plumber tarining

Apprenticeship requirement:

Applying for an apprenticeship need-

  • some GCSEs usually including english and maths, or equivalent for intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 or equivalent, including english and maths for advanced apprenticeship

License and Certification

After completing the training or apprenticeship successfully you can start working on your own. You could apply directly for the job if you have got qualification and experience from the plumbing industry. No particular license is needed but it’s mandatory to register yourself on the Gas Safe Register to work with a domestic gas heating system.

At that point you can work independently as a journeyman without direct supervision of another journeyman or master plumber and you are assumed to be an expert on local plumbing.

Apprenticeship, Journeyman and Master Plumber: The Professional Ladder

Before hitting the ‘Go’ button it is important to understand the professional ladder in the plumbing industry. Most people start their career in plumbing as an apprentice. It takes 2-5 years to complete the level with necessary skills and experience. 

The second step starts as a journeyman. You can work now without direct supervision of another journeyman or master plumber. At this point it’s possible to start working under self employment or start a business.

It takes 2 years working as a journeyman before becoming a master plumber. You may need to take a test before you become a master plumber.

Apprenticeship

You will study under a journeyman or master plumber boh through practical experience and traditional coursework.

  • Apprenticeship take 2-5 years to complete
  • Most common and easy way to apply for apprenticeship is through a local union
  • You can take apprenticeship under an expert plumber yourself

Find more about apprenticeship in the UK here ➮ Guide to Apprenticeship

Journeyman

  • Journeyman has completed the apprenticeship and works on this own
  • It needs professional skills and years or experience
  • A journeyman also learns everyday to become a master plumber
  • He can set his own rates if work under self employment

Master Plumber

  • To become a master plumber it takes 2 consistent years of working experience as a journeyman
  • You may have to take a test or an exam to become a master plumber
  • Master plumbers mainly supervise others
  • He can plan and design a whole plumbing system for household or commercial places

Specialization

There are 7 different plumbing specializations or career paths you can choose from-

Plumbing Technicians serves a wide variety of clients with commercial, industrial and domestic issues. They maintain various types of water systems, repair and install sinks, shower heads etc. A plumbing technician needs to diagnose plumbing issues and guide the customers correctly.

Pipefitters mostly maintain and install piping systems in power and industrial plants. They have responsibilities like monitoring power generation systems as well as heating/cooling systems.

Steamfitters and pipefitters are quite the same. Steamfitters mainly perform the installation of pipes for high-pressure gas lines.

Pipelayers are another specialized type of pipefitters. They are trained for digging and leveling the trenches for the pipes and then laying the pipes in the trenches.

Gas Service Technicians are responsible for delivering gas throughout an industrial site. They also search for gas leaks and perform other tasks related to gas.

Project Managers supervise a group of people in a company.

A Business Owner owns a plumbing company himself. Running a plumbing business often requires specialized training sessions covering all aspects of plumbing.

Women in Plumbing

women in plumbing

Although many women who are interested in trade professions want to stay away from plambing the situation is changing rapidly. Yes, this is a messy job sometimes and women are often paid less than the male plumbers but many women in the plumbing field report that they are treated very professionally by both their co-workers and the clients.

Plumbing can be an exceptionally lucrative job even for the women. Plumbing companies now want to train more women because clients from households often ask for female plumbers. So, women can find an excellent well-paying career in the plumbing industry as easily as men.

Average Plumber Salary in the UK

The average plumber salary in the United Kingdom is £15.80 per hour. Salary of a plumber changes in cities over time. The statistics below shows current plumber salaries in the UK-

Average Plumber Salaries

Plumber Salery

Industries where You will Get Higher Employment Opportunities

Each and every household and commercial /industrial construction needs plumbers. From installation of water and drainage systems to fixing a domestic gas leak, plumbers are needed everywhere. But you will find higher employment opportunities with better salary in the following industries-

  • Building Equipment Contractor
  • Nonresidential Building Constructions
  • Utility System Constructions
  • Local Government
  • Employment Services

As a footnote it is suggested that based on the career plan and skill level you should take action and prepare yourself. Even at the time of apprenticeship, a professional course can accelerate your career growth. 

 

Different states may have particular health & safety regulations as plumbers may work in a cramped environment, at height and outdoor sometimes. Abide by the regulations and enjoy the adventurous job as James P. Gorman said-

“If you consider the contribution of plumbing to human life, the other sciences fade into insignificance.”

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September 18, 2020

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