There are over 120,000 registered plumbers in the UK today, and if you’re looking for how to become a licensed plumber, it’s wise to do some research and find out if this career is right for you.
A career in plumbing can be challenging, but very varied and rewarding, leading to lots of different opportunities.
It’s important to consider what type of company you’d want to work for first, as established plumbing companies will generally be more trusted and also potentially operate around the clock, meaning you aren’t limited in your work.
What makes a good plumber?
It’s important to consider what qualities a plumber needs to have if you are wondering how to qualify as a plumber.
The main skill a plumber will need is practical ability as plumbing involves a lot of manual work with tools and pipework.
In addition to physical skills, mental skills are equally as important. A plumber needs to have good problem-solving skills and the ability to follow technical plans.
Plumbers need to understand the importance of health and safety, as hazards like high pressure water, electricity and hot water can all pose serious health risks.
In their work, a plumber will need to have great attention to detail and a careful, well-ordered approach to work. Customers are trusting you to do a job and expecting a great outcome, so there’s no room for errors caused by laziness.
Speaking of customers, a good plumber will also require decent customer service skills to talk to people whilst you work in and around their property, plus the ability to work alone or in a team and stay motivated.
On the legal side, plumbers need all of their relevant qualifications and usually a full driving license.
What does a plumber do?
Plumbing can be a varied role, so your daily activities will be different every day, but revolve around the same kind of tasks.
Whether working in a domestic or a commercial premise, providing an emergency response or planned works, your role will be challenging, progressive and rewarding.
Typical plumbing services include:
– Installing water supplies and heating systems
– Detection and repair of faults in systems or equipment
– Attending emergency call outs to fix leaks and burst pipes
– Servicing gas and oil-fired central heating systems, boilers and radiators
– Servicing air conditioning and ventilation units
– Use of hand and power tools, with the possibility of welding equipment too
When and where does a plumber work?
Working hours are highly dependant on the type of company you work for. If you work for a smaller company, it might be more restricted hours, however, if you work for a larger organisation there may be more flexibility and more options for what times you can work.
As for where you work, it entirely depends on where the plumbing works need to be carried out. Sometimes, it will involve doing work in tight spaces indoors and sometimes it will be outside.
Some types of work may require you to work at heights, involving scaffolding to repair gutters for example.
How much does a plumber earn?
The average expected salary for a plumber is between £24,000 and £26,000 a year, but with experience this can increase to anywhere from £28,000 and £35,000 a year, although this can vary from region to region.
N.B. These figures are based on salary guidelines in the plumbing industry as a subcontractor.
Plumbing also gives the option to work for yourself, and therefore let you set your own rate if you’re self-employed.
Plumbing career progression
As mentioned, the more experience you have in the plumbing industry, the higher the typical salary.
When you’re looking for work, it’s always best to find a company that specialises in both plumbing and heating, so you can progress your skills to become a plumbing & heating engineer.
An engineer who is qualified in both plumbing and heating is much more valuable to a company as they are more versatile, and therefore more adept to resolving a customer’s problem.
It’s essential for plumbers to be insured with Plumbers Public Liability Insurance as this will protect you if someone gets injured or their property is damaged as a result of your business.
If you have employees, contractors or temporary staff, you’re required by UK law to take out employer’s liability insurance.
How to qualify as a plumber
Finally, arguably one of the most important questions is how to qualify as a plumber!
To be a qualified plumber, you’ll need an industry recognised qualification at level 2 or 3.
These are typically level 2 (NVQ) Diploma in Installing and Maintaining Domestic Heating Systems and Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating
The common route into a plumbing career is a plumbing and heating apprenticeship. This usually takes two to three years to complete and combines learning with practical skills on the job.
Apprenticeships vary from place to place, but you can find more on apprenticeships at the gov website.
As you can see, plumbing certainly makes for an interest and varied career, where you’ll never be short of progression.