Water, gas, oil, etc.

Plumber

Plumbers fit and service hot and cold water systems, heating systems and drainage networks.

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2018 was £29,588 (source Office for Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 40

What's it all about?

Depending on your qualifications, you'll service and repair heating, water and sanitation systems in domestic and commercial premises.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • measuring and planning to give cost and time estimates
  • cutting, bending and joining pipes and fittings
  • installing water, drainage and heating systems
  • finding and fixing faults
  • servicing gas and oil-fired central heating systems and radiators
  • installing and fixing domestic appliances like showers and washing machines
  • dealing with emergency call-outs like boiler breakdowns or blocked drains
  • fitting weather-proof materials, joints and flashings to roofs, chimneys and walls

College

You could do a Level 2 and 3 Diploma in Plumbing and Domestic Heating.

This would teach you some of the skills needed for the job and will help you when applying for a trainee position with a plumbing company.

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course

Apprenticeship

You can do an intermediate and advanced apprenticeship in plumbing and domestic heating. This can take up to 4 years.

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

Other Routes

You could start as a plumber's assistant or 'mate' and do training on the job to qualify.

You'll usually need some GCSEs, including English and maths, along with good practical skills.

You could apply directly for jobs if you've got qualifications and several years' experience from related industries, like building services or heating and ventilation engineering.

You'll need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent to train and work on a construction site

You can join the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering for professional development and industry news.


£15,000 to £40,000

Starter salary: £15,000 to £20,000

Experienced salary: £20,000 to £28,000

Self-employed plumbers set their own rates.

These figures are a guide.

37 to 40

As an employee, you'll usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week. You could work evenings, weekends and public holidays, if your firm offers an emergency call-out service.

Self-employed plumbers can work longer hours.

You'll be working in all weathers, and some of your work will be in confined spaces. You could also work on scaffolding or from ladders to repair roof guttering or leadwork.

You'll travel locally between jobs but you may have to work away from home on some contracts. A driving licence will usually be required.

You can develop your skills by taking further training in areas such as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and renewable energy technologies like solar powered heating.

You can also join the Gas Safe Register or get certified with the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC). These would show you're qualified to work on gas or oil-fired appliances.

You could go on to take an HND or degree and become an engineer. This would give you career options in building services engineering, estimating and contract management.

Go Construct has more information about careers and qualifications in plumbing.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • number skills
  • the ability to follow technical drawings and plans
  • practical skills and the ability to follow safe working practices
  • customer care skills
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
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