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HOW TO BECOME A PLUMBER

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

As a result, we’ve tried to make it as simple as possible for new entrants to the industry to understand. We’re answering all of the common questions about starting your career as a plumber.

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Why Become A Plumber?

There are countless reasons to become a plumber, with the career choice ticking many boxes. 

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. 

As a plumber, you can work for yourself 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.
  • Sociable & part of a community – 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!

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!

CHECKATRADE

When you enrol on our ACS Domestic Gas & Plumbing Maintenance Training Course, you’ll be eligible to apply for twelve months of free Checkatrade membership. 

Checkatrade is the leading tradesperson directory, with over 13 million people using them to help find a reputable tradesperson.

Allowing you to reach new customers in your local area and further afield, Checkatrade and Options Skills will help you launch your career and grow your business.

Options Skills and Checkatrade banner

ROUTES TO BECOME A PLUMBER

With several different routes to take, it's about finding the one that best suits you.

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

A training course delivers practical training and study over a few months before you go out to work on-site. 

You’ll complete the initial stage of the course in the training centre, learning through a combination of practical workshop training and theoretical study. Online resources may also be available. You’ll spend approximately two months training before going to work on-site.

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.

Student training to become a plumber checking gas pressure

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME A PLUMBER?

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.

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.

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.

Student training to become a plumber working with copper piping

Skills Needed To Become A Plumber

Plumbing student bending copper piping
Plumbing student bending copper piping

What Do Plumbers Do?

As you can imagine, the role of a plumber is varied. 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 also 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. 

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.

Gas student working at workbench

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 currently a mandatory qualification in the UK, it’s recommended.  

There is no typical day as a plumber as you’ll be working on many different tasks – it’s what makes the trade an interesting and exciting one to be a part of.

Typical Plumbing Tasks

HOW MUCH DO PLUMBERS EARN?

1 k
Newly trained

(Source: (CheckaTrade)

1 k
experienced plumber

(Source: UK.Talent)

1 k
senior plumber

(Source: Go Construct)

1 k+
self-employed

(Source: Simply Business)

Student measuring copper piping at a workshop bench

WHAT ARE THE WORKING HOURS OF A PLUMBER?

Your working hours will vary depending on who you work for or if you’re self-employed.

As an employed plumber, you can expect to work between eight and ten hours a day, five days a week. You may also be on call during the evening and at weekends for emergencies.

When working as a self-employed plumber, you set your schedule. Typically, you’ll work Mon-Fri for eight to ten hours. However, setting your schedule means you can take time off when you want and work around other commitments.

WHY ARE PLUMBERS IN DEMAND?

With an increasing housing market, renovations at an all-time high and an ageing workforce, the demand for plumbers has never been greater.

So why isn’t there enough people to meet demand?

To put it simply, not enough people are taking up the trade. With university degrees encouraged at schools over trades training and a misguided perception of plumbing, uptake is low. 

But attitudes are beginning to change as people realise the potential of a career in plumbing. Not only is it an exciting job with plenty of career progression, but there’s an impressive earning potential available as well.

Plumbing student looking towards a gas meter in the background

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