Plumber

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

Salary Range: £15,000 to £40,000

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How to become a plumber

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
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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.

Entry requirements

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

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Apprenticeship

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

Entry requirements

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

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Work

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.

Direct application

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.

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Registration

Professional and industry bodies

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

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a plumber from the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering and Go Construct.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • 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:

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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

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

Working environment

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.

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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 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 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.