Plumbing is a hands-on trade, but more than just labour. The work is varied, dealing with water, gas, and heating on different kinds of properties. It takes time to get into the trade and you have to know the work will be right for you ahead of time. We’ve put together some things to consider before seriously considering a career in plumbing:
The right type of person right for a career in plumbing:
Plumbers are natural problem solvers. The job requires you to mesh the rigours of the technical requirements of the equipment you’re installing, the unpredictable nature of your client’s buildings, and to adhere to strict health and safety measures all at the same time.
You’ll have to be comfortable with independence, making critical decisions without direct supervision. Solid communication skills and a sense of real satisfaction from doing the best job possible are also vital traits.
Academic requirements and qualifications:
The heating and plumbing sectors look for students that perform well in maths, science and engineering. Apprenticeships are the most common and accepted pathway into the plumbing industry, where you’ll split your time between learning on the job with qualified professionals and days of academic study. Once you’ve earned an appropriate level NVQ, depending on what you want to do in the plumbing trade, you can start operating as a professional.
What you’ll actually be doing as a plumber:
- Installing domestic and commercial heating systems
- Weather-proofing homes or businesses
- Installing and servicing air conditioning
- Seeing to emergency leaks and faults at any hour requested if you choose to work as an emergency plumber
- Diagnosing problems in gas and water systems on domestic and commercial properties
Depending on the type of company you work for, this list isn’t exhaustive.
You’ll have to be okay with working in some uncomfortable or cramped spaces from time to time, especially when installing boilers and pumps in places like cupboards or lofts.
Sometimes you’ll be outdoors and may even have to scale scaffolding for some jobs if you’re waterproofing buildings or seeing to outdoor plumbing.
Hours are usually around 40 hours a week in the day time but may involve some unsociable hours, particularly if you’re going to pursue emergency plumbing. Running your own business means you can set your own hours, but often means you’ll be working more than 40 hours a week.
What you’ll earn:
You’ll earn some money during your training, assuming you qualify through an apprenticeship, and out the gate you can expect to earn £18,000 as a full-time plumber. Once you’ve got experience in the trade you can eventually expect to double that if you work as a full time plumber, and even more if you work as a specialist. Your exact figure will vary based on where you live, and if you start your own business you’ll set your own rates and working hours.
If plumbing sounds right for you, start working on the pathways into an apprenticeship or traineeship with a local plumber now to give yourself a leg up as soon as possible. Best of luck!