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How to Become a Plumber
By: Sharmain Zain
Reading time: 3 min

It’s not everyone who wants to pursue an academic career. Throughout the UK there is a massive shortage of skilled tradesmen in all categories, and with the uncertainty of Brexit the shortage could become even more acute. If you’re a person who loves to get hands-on, prefers to be out and about rather than tied to one place day after day, then a career as a plumber may be right down your street.

Qualifying as a plumber is the first step in what can be a satisfying, varied, and lucrative career. You could work in private homes repairing leaking pipes radiators or boilers. You could be on a building site laying water mains or fitting out new builds. Or you could be installing a new heating system in a school or hospital. Choosing to train as a plumber will put you in the driving seat when it comes to increasing your skills and earning potential.

Job basics

• Entry salary: £25,000+
• Experienced salary: £33,000+ (and upwards)
• Average hours: 37-40 (full-time) 20 (part-time)

What do plumbers do?

• Install mains water systems to private and commercial properties
• Install heating systems in private and commercial properties
• Install header tanks in private and commercial properties
• Install waste water and sewage systems in new builds
• Install new showers and bathrooms
• Deal with all types of water leaks
• Repair boilers and unblock drains
• Install washing machines and dishwashers
• Increasing involvement with solar energy

In fact, if it’s anything to do with water – expect a call.

What qualities should a plumber have?

Besides your plumbing/heating qualifications, good communication skills are required when talking to a client. A decent head for heights helps. There are times you may work off ladders or scaffolding both inside and out. A full driving license will be needed to get yourself and tools from job to job in a company van. Flexibility and a dedication to your trade are needed. There are times you may have to work unsocial hours on emergencies, or to minimise disruption to clients. A will to continue learning throughout your career will keep you up to speed on the increasing use of sustainable energy.

How do I become qualified?

A good start to any chosen career path is to pass as many GCSEs as possible. For a plumbing career, Maths, English and a science subject are the most important, although some employers will accept certain Level 2 qualifications. The government is also bringing in T GCSEs which are based on skills, and studied for in the same way as sixth form GCSE A-levels.

Apprenticeships are not as easy to find as they used to be, but they are still out there. If you can’t find a suitable apprenticeship, check out your local college. Many run full time plumbing courses for the 16-18 year olds which can take you right up to level 3 Diploma. More apprenticeship doors will open if you can back your enthusiasm with college qualifications.

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