How to Become A Plumber

Are you looking to become a plumber? 

There are several routes to becoming a plumber, from apprenticeship to training courses, and the most important thing is finding the best way for you.

There’s a lot of information available, from why you should consider a career as a plumber to how much you can earn, so we’re answering all the common questions surrounding how you can become a plumber.

Up To £60K
Earning Potential
Career Paths

Request More Information

Interested In
Interested In
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Why Become A Plumber?

Becoming a plumber is a great career move for many people. With a shortage of skilled tradespeople throughout the UK, the increasing housing market, and an ageing workforce, if you’ve ever thought about becoming a plumber, now is the time to do it. 

Everyone wants job stability, high earning potential and career advancement; becoming a plumber can offer that and so much more.

There is always a demand for plumbers, but it’s now higher than ever. Everyone everywhere will need a plumber at some point, making it a career with excellent job security.

How you become a plumber may differ from how others have entered the trade. Plumbing offers several routes of entry, allowing you to find a path that’s well suited to you.

Unlike university degrees, plumbing training courses are affordable and allow most plumbers to enter the trade without debt. Consequently, this makes it a more lucrative career choice as you’ll not be left paying back debt from your paychecks. 

You can work for yourself as a plumber and launch your own business. With this comes freedom, flexibility, and control that you may not get in other careers.

No two days will ever be the same when you become a plumber. From installing a bathroom to repairing broken piping and everything in between, you’ll never be bored.

Plumbing systems deliver fresh water and remove wastewater, reducing the risk of illness and diseases. As a plumber, you’ll be the one making this happen and keeping your customers happy and healthy is priceless.

There are numerous routes within the plumbing industry, and career progression is a huge selling point of the trade.

Many plumbers choose to upskill in the gas and renewables industries to increase their earning potential.

With the ability to own your own business and the career progression options, you can earn a lot of money when you become a plumber. 

Not only will you be meeting new customers every day, but you’ll also become part of the trades community – which is one of the most supportive communities there is!

Routes To Become A Plumber

Plumbing Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship combines practical training with study.

Training will take place at your place of work, a college or online. You must spend 20% of your working hours training as an apprentice.

Apprenticeships are aimed at those aged 16 and over and generally take 1-5 years to complete.

Plumbing Training Course


As a plumber’s mate, you’ll work alongside a professional plumber to learn the skills and knowledge of the trade. There are no age restrictions for adults or existing qualification requirements.

However, as it’s not an official route, you may have to go to college or a training provider to gain official qualifications after a few years as a plumbers mate.

Plumbing student looking towards a gas meter in the background

Plumber’s Mate

There is no specific endpoint with no qualifications directly available through this route. For this reason, a plumber’s mate will usually work for a few years before exploring the avenues available to become a qualified plumber.

Upskilling In Gas & Heating

Many plumbers choose to upskill in the gas and heating industry to expand their skill set and increase their earning potential. 

Our Domestic Gas Training Course consists of three simple steps. First, you’ll train with experienced tutors in our centre before working alongside a gas engineer on-site. The breakdown of the course looks like this:

  1. Centre-Led Training – 300 Guided Learning Hours
  2. Portfolio Building – 100 Days*
  3. ACS Initial Training – 80 Guided Learning Hours

*How long it takes to complete your portfolio depends on your working situation. To complete step two, trainees must meet the portfolio criteria set.

You can also upskill in the renewable heating industry through our range of heat pump courses.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Plumber?

Training Courses

Training courses, however, can be completed in a shorter time, allowing students to earn a full wage sooner. With our training course, you’ll spend three weeks in our centre learning essential skills and knowledge of the trade.

  • Newly qualified plumbers: £25,000 (Source: Checkatrade)
  • Experienced plumber: £30,000+ (Source: UK.Talent)


As an apprentice plumber, you’ll be in college and on-site, with a minimum of 20% of your working hours being hands-on. Typically, plumbing apprenticeships can take anywhere from one year to five years to complete and are generally aimed at those aged 16 and over. During your time as an apprentice, you will be able to earn as you train:

  • 16-18: £4.81 per hour
  • 19+ (first year): £4.81
  • 19+ (second year onwards: National minimum wage for your age

(Source: Gov.UK)

Student measuring copper piping at a workshop bench

How Much Do Plumbers Earn?

1 k
Experienced Plumber
1 k
1 k
Senior Plumber

Conversely, many plumbers do not hold ACS Gas Qualifications or are on the Gas Safe Register. However, they still provide an invaluable service for their customers and will complete works traditionally associated with the role of a plumber.

Typically, they come to the rescue of householders in distress. In addition, they’re on hand to repair the hot and cold water supply, non-gas pipework, taps, toilets, sinks, waste pipes and traps, collectively known as sanitary ware.

They should also appreciate and understand The Water Regulations. This is not a mandatory qualification in the UK, but it’s recommended. 

What Do Plumbers Do?

As you can imagine, the role of a plumber is varied. However, if you were to ask most people what a plumber did, they would probably say that they fixed leaks and repaired boilers, and they would be right.

However, the term ‘plumber’ can be confusing because not every plumber will hold qualifications allowing them to undertake every household repair or installation.

For instance, it is illegal to interrupt the gas supply and undertake repairs on gas pipework or appliances in the UK unless you hold valid and current gas qualifications known as ACS Qualifications listed on the Gas Safe Register. Therefore, many plumbers will have ACS Gas qualifications that allow them to work on gas installations and non-gas pipework legally and safely, installations and heating systems.

Gas course student soldering copper piping

Typical Plumbing Tasks

No two days will ever be the same as a plumber. Plumbing offers a wide variety of projects and tasks, making it an exciting career that will never get boring. And, as the industry evolves and technologies change, you’ll find there’s always something new to learn and try out.

  • Measuring/Planning Cutting
  • Bending, Joining Pipes
  • Installing water, draining, and heating systems
  • Fault Finding
  • Servicing gas/oil-fired central heating systems and radiators
  • Installation, maintenance and serving of domestic appliances (e.g. showers, dishwashers)
  • Emergency Callouts
  • Fitting weatherproof materials
  • Installation and maintenance of heating and cooling systems
Plumbing student looking towards a gas meter in the background

How To Begin A Career In The Plumbing Industry

Beginning a career in plumbing will look different for each person. Some will choose to work as a plumbers’ mate as this route allows them to gradually build up their skills and knowledge of the trade before looking to earn official qualifications.

Alternatively, apprenticeships are also a great option – particularly for younger entrants looking to earn a little money as they learn the trade.

Training courses are especially well suited to mature students who can dedicate themselves to learning the trade. Following centre-led training, students can gain work experience alongside qualified plumbers and engineers with plenty of knowledge and skills to call upon and share.

What works for you isn’t necessarily the same as what works for others, so it’s essential to consider your options and research thoroughly.

Career Progression For Plumbers

As a maintenance plumber, you’ll often react to call-outs and repair, typically the smaller jobs ignored by bigger businesses but incredibly important to homeowners.

From fixing a leaking tap to unblocking pipes, working as a maintenance plumber is an excellent step into the industry, allowing you to perfect essential plumbing skills and knowledge.

As a gas and plumbing engineer, you’ll be experienced in domestic plumbing work and qualified in gas engineering.

You’ll be installing boilers and gas cookers while also laying piping for new radiators. Joining the Gas Safe Register is often the next step for those who’ve been working in the plumbing industry for a few years – enabling them to learn new skills and increase earning potential.

Learn more about our ACS Domestic Gas Training Course.

A Renewables Specialist installs Ground and Air Source Heat Pumps and other equipment forms that utilise renewable energy.

To undertake the course, you must first hold ACS Gas Qualifications. 

Many engineers keen to future-proof themselves realise they must complement other traditional plumbing and gas repairs with renewables.

Learn more about our: Renewables Training Package

A bathroom or kitchen fitter will install and maintain pipework and sanitary ware.

Additionally, they will usually have other skills, including design, knowledge of Building and Water Regulations, Tiling, Carpentry, plus the knowledge and skills of a general builder.

A Drainage Engineer will typically specialise in clearing blockages from drains and repairing or replacing collapsed drains. They are often well equipped and will own costly specialist equipment.

Whilst many plumbers will deal with blocked sinks or toilets internally, quite often, the cause of the blockage is traced to an external drain. Usually, this will then require the engineer to carry expensive, specialist equipment, e.g., High-Pressure Jetting Machines, CCTV cameras or even drain lining repair kits.

For this reason, many plumbers leave this type of work to specialist companies that can investigate and undertake comprehensive investigations, solutions and repairs where necessary. 

A First Fix plumber will typically work with a builder or on a building site. They will work with other trades as a house is being built, normally installing pipework and sanitary ware, before or in conjunction with other trades such as carpenters, plasters etc.

A plumber involved in this type of work is usually experienced and quick. The role does not usually include repairs and maintenance, and typically there is no interaction with customers or the general public. A plumber must carry a CSCS Plumbing card to work on many building sites. 

As a manager, you’ll be in charge of a team within a company. Not only will you need excellent plumbing skills for this role, but you’ll also require management skills.

As you’ll be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day functions of a team, you need to ensure they’re trained and doing their jobs as expected and handle any issues that may arise.

Once you’ve gained the skills and qualifications required to work in plumbing, you may look into self-employment and launch a business of your own.

There are numerous benefits to being a business owner, including complete control of your career and high earning potential.

Student measuring copper piping at a workshop bench

5 Great Reasons To Become A Plumber

Free Renewables Training With Options Skills Free Renewables Training With Options Skills

Existing plumbers and gas and heating engineers can now claim free renewables training through Options Skills. In 2019, the UK Government committed to the Net-Zero target proposed by the Climate Chang... continue reading

Building Regulations Part L Update Building Regulations Part L Update

What is the new Part L Update, and how will it impact existing and new heating engineers across England? Building Regulations Part L covers the conservation of fuel and power in the building of new ho... continue reading

New Hydrogen Boiler Labels New Hydrogen Boiler Labels

Projects have been running behind the scenes in a bid to introduce hydrogen into our gas system. Ultimately, the goal is to decarbonise the UK, making homes more eco-friendly. As a result, there is an... continue reading