Plumbers fit and service hot and cold water systems, heating systems and drainage networks.
Salary Range: £15,000 to £40,000
How to become a plumber
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
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), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
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, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
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
Professional and industry bodies
You can join the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering for professional development and industry news.
You can find out more about becoming a plumber from the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering and Go Construct.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
- knowledge of building and construction
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- knowledge of maths
- the ability to work well with others
- the ability to use your initiative
- the ability to work well with your hands
- customer service skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- be on the Gas Safe Register to work with domestic gas heating systems
What you’ll do
As a plumber, you’ll:
- find out from the customer what the problem is
- give time and cost estimates for jobs
- install water, drainage and heating systems
- cut, shape and join pipes and fittings
- find and fix faults
- service gas and oil-fired central heating systems and radiators
- install or repair domestic appliances like showers and washing machines
- respond to emergency call-outs, like boiler breakdowns or blocked drains
- fit weather-proof materials, joints and flashings to roofs, chimneys and walls
You could work at a client’s home or at a client’s business.
Your working environment may be cramped, at height and outdoors some of the time.
Career path and progression
You can develop your skills by taking further training in areas like heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and renewable energy technologies like solar powered heating.
You could go on to study for a higher national diploma or degree and become an engineer. This could lead to career options in building services engineering, estimating and contract management.