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HOW TO BECOME A PLUMBER

When researching how to become a plumber, there’s a lot of information out there, and it can be confusing. 

As a result, we’ve tried to make it as simple as possible for new entrants to the industry to understand.

From why you should consider a career as a plumber to how much you can earn, we’re answering all the common questions surrounding how you can become a plumber.

SEVERAL  
ROUTES 

UPTO £60K IN
EARNING POTENTIAL

VARIOUS
CAREER PATHS

SHARE & PRINT

WHY BECOME A PLUMBER?

Becoming a plumber is a great career move for many people. With a shortage of skilled tradespeople throughout the UK, in addition to the increasing housing market and 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 advancement in their careers and 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!

Plumbing student working with copper piping in the workshop

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. As an apprentice, you must spend 20% of your working hours’ training.

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

Plumbing Training Course

Plumber's Mate

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

CAREER PROGRESSION FOR PLUMBERS

There are several routes within the plumbing industry for new entrants and existing plumbers.

And, as existing plumbers reach retirement age, there are considerable gaps to fill. The need to meet demand provides plumbers with the benefit of new and exciting challenges within their work and higher salaries than ever before.

Career paths for plumbers include:

  • Maintenance Plumber
  • Gas & Plumbing Engineer
  • Heating & Renewables Engineer
  • Bathroom/Kitchen Fitter
  • Drainage Engineer
  • First Fix Plumber
  • Manager
  • Business Owner

Find out more about career progression for plumbers.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A PLUMBER?

Plumbing Training Course

A plumbing course completed through a private training provider will take, on average, between one and three years to complete. However, the duration can vary depending on whether you train full-time or part-time.

Plumbing Apprenticeship

Typically, a plumbing apprenticeship will take anywhere from three to five years to complete depending on the level of certification you’re working towards.

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.

Student measuring copper piping at a workshop bench

HOW MUCH DO PLUMBERS EARN?

1 k
NEWLY TRAINED
1 k
EXPERIENCED PLUMBER
1 k
SELF-EMPLOYED
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. Whilst this is not a mandatory qualification in the UK, 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 that will allow 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
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