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Construction, Architecture & Maintenance

Plumber

Job Description

Plumbing isn’t just about gaffing about with some pipes or sticking your hands down toilets – it’s a whole lot more skilled than that. Plumbing careers focus on the installation and repair of various household systems, namely sanitation units (toilets, sinks and baths), heating systems (radiators and boilers) and ventilation appliances (air conditioning).

So, if you become a plumber, you might be doing routine boiler checks, taking on some repair work, designing plumbing systems for houses and installing everything from sinks and baths to gutters and drainpipes.

Of course, you don’t just have to work in houses or with water. Some plumbers are specially trained to install and fix gas appliances, whilst others might work in industrial buildings on things like air-conditioning and extraction systems. Plumbers can even develop an area of specialism and work in the ship, chemistry and gas industries.

On a different note (and to add a bit of celebrity flavour), did you know that Ozzy Osbourne originally started out as a trainee plumber? Then again, we must admit that his plumbing career was cut short by a stint in prison. Oh dear. Plumbing’s loss, music’s (sort of) gain.

Salary & benefits

Trainee and apprenticeship plumbers will probably earn somewhere in the region of £15,000 a year.

Newly qualified plumbers might earn between £18,000 and £22,000 a year, rising to between £22,000 and £30,000+ with more experience.

Experienced plumbers working in central London could earn between £40,000 and £50,000.

Self-employed plumbers tend to earn more than salaried plumbers, with some earning £40,000+ a year. 

Working hours

Working hours differ, so while some plumbers might only work weekdays, others might be required to work some evenings or weekends. 

Entry

Plumbing is a great option for those with practical abilities. You don’t need a degree and you probably won’t need A-levels to head towards this career, but you will need to learn how to fix, maintain and install plumbing systems.

So how do you learn that? Well, many students enter this profession through apprenticeships, and although there are no minimum qualifications, many employers ask for a level two or three NVQ in plumbing. You’ll need top-notch practical skills and an aptitude for problem solving if you want to pursue a career as a plumber. 

Training & progression

For any aspiring plumbers who are interested in the gas supply industry, it’s worth noting that you must become Gas Safe registered – and some plumbing companies only hire Gas Safe registered plumbers too.

Once qualified as a plumber, you can work towards higher plumbing qualifications, such as NVQ level 4 or 5.

There is plenty of scope for career progression in plumbing. Plumbers utilise skills that are transferrable to other sectors, such as heating, electrical, refrigeration, ventilation or air-conditioning.

They might also progress to managerial roles in larger companies, or, as many plumbers do, strike out on their own and become self-employed.