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Job Photographs

  • A man in a high visibility vest and white hard hat is signing a piece of paper.

    Signing in on site before starting work.

  • A man in a high visibility vest and white hard hat is using a drill.

    Plumbers use various tools and machinery in their work.

  • A man wearing a high visibility jacket is standing in a bathroom.  He is holding a drill.

    Health and safety clothing is always needed in craft construction careers.

  • A man in a high visibility vest and white hard hat is tightening screws in a radiator unit.

    You need to be comfortable working in confided spaces to be a plumber.

  • A man in a high visibility vest and white hard hat is using a tape measure.

    Number skills are useful in this career.

  • A man in a high visibility vest and white hard hat is using a spirit level.

    Accuracy is important in this kind of work.

  • Plumber

Plumber

Introduction

Plumbers install, repair and maintain the water supply, drainage and central heating in houses and other locations. They use a variety of tools to carry out their work.

Video: - Ross: Plumber

Work Activities

As a Plumber, you will install, maintain and repair hot and cold water systems, sanitary services, heating systems, and pipework and controls for gas supply. You may also apply weather proofing to roofs.

You will be working in a variety of locations including houses, industrial and commercial buildings, ships and aeroplanes.

You'll use a variety of hand and power tools including:

  • wrenches
  • spanners
  • saws
  • cutters
  • welding gear

You will cut, bend, join and fix materials such as:

  • lead
  • copper
  • aluminium
  • plastic
  • zinc
  • iron

Installation work includes things like central heating systems and their controls and pipework, drainage systems and large refrigeration systems for industry.

When the equipment has been installed, you'll need to carefully test it to make sure that it is working efficiently and safely.

Maintenance and repair work includes routine servicing and emergency repairs. Repair work involves finding faults, replacing or repairing damaged parts, carrying out tests and making sure that the system works properly.

As a Plumber, you may be called out at short notice to do emergency repairs, especially in winter if pipes freeze.

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Plumber, you'll need:

  • good practical skills
  • to work carefully, following specifications and often interpreting plans and drawings
  • good people skills, as you will often meet customers in their own homes
  • to be physically fit, as the work involves a lot of bending, kneeling and working in cramped and awkward spaces
  • awareness of the importance of health and safety in this industry
  • to be comfortable working at heights

You'll be using sharp and powered cutting tools, so you must not suffer from medical conditions, such as frequent blackouts or dizziness, that could be a danger to yourself or others.

As you may have to travel around locally, a driving licence would be useful for this work.

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £24,000 - £26,000
  • With experience: £29,000 - £33,000
  • Senior Plumbers earn £35,000 - £37,500

Hourly rates range from £10 - £21 per hour.

Hours of work

Plumbers work a 37.5-hour week. Overtime, including Saturday working, may be available.

Where could I work?

Employers are plumbing contractors and firms specialising in heating or drainage.

Opportunities for Plumbers occur with plumbing contractors in towns and cities throughout the UK.

This career could involve working for an agency.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Plumbers to work as self-employed contractors.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

There are no strict entry requirements to become a Plumber, but there are vocational qualifications available that could help you to stand out from the crowd. Relevant vocational qualifications include BTECs and City & Guilds qualifications.

Or you could apply for an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship and train on the job. Once you begin your apprenticeship you may be able to study for a work-based qualification such as a NVQ. These are available in:

  • NVQ level 2 diploma in installing and maintaining domestic heating systems
  • NVQ level 3 diploma in domestic plumbing and heating
  • NVQ level 3 diploma in domestic heating

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

You need a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card to work on site. These cards show that you are qualified to do the work you've been employed for.

CSCS cards will cost £36 and you will have to pass the appropriate Construction Industry Training Board health, safety and environmental test. This costs £21. You will then complete an application form and pay the total price of £57.

The CSCS application form has four sections that you will have to complete:

  • section A: This section is where you complete your personal details and attach a passport photo or your Health, Safety & Environment Test photo
  • section B: This is where you fill in your occupation details and state which card you need. The different cards are skilled, craft and operative cards.
  • section C: This a declaration section where your current employer, previous employer or a CSCS card holder will declare that you meet the requirements of the card
  • section D: This is the details of your card requirements and what evidence you need to get a CSCS card

Training

Apprenticeships will usually involve work- and college-based training. You will also receive training in subjects like health and safety.

If you would like some training, City & Guilds offer a NVQ level 2 qualification in plumbing and heating. This course has a range of units, which could include:

  • understanding and carrying out site preparation, and pipework fabrication techniques for domestic plumbing and heating systems
  • understanding and applying domestic cold water system installation and maintenance techniques
  • understanding and applying domestic hot water system installation and maintenance techniques
  • understanding and applying domestic central heating system installation and maintenance techniques
  • install and maintain domestic plumbing and heating systems
  • install and maintain domestic heating systems

Other courses could be available in your area.

Work Experience

Previous experience in engineering or metal forming, are useful for this career.

Progression

In the construction industry, it is possible to work up from craft-level positions to managerial roles, such as Construction Site Manager.

Qualifications

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

Relevant vocational qualifications include:

  • BTEC level 1 or level 2 qualification in construction and the built environment
  • BTEC level 3 qualification in building services engineering
  • City & Guilds level 2 and 3 diplomas in plumbing and domestic heating
  • City & Guilds level 2 and 3 diplomas in plumbing craft

To enter a City & Guilds or BTEC level 2 course, you'll usually need at least 4 GCSEs at grades D-G (3-1).

To enter a City & Guilds or BTEC level 3 course, you'll usually need at least 4 GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4).

However, individual centres may have different entry requirements. You may be able to get on to one of the courses without any qualifications.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Relevant skills, for example, in engineering or metal forming, are useful.

Courses

Many people go into this career via a Plumbing and Heating Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

LGjobs

Local government vacancies

Website: www.lgjobs.com

Skills Development Scotland - Modern Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 9178000

Email: info@skillsdevelopmentscotland.co.uk

Website: www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships

myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies

Scottish enquiries

Email: myjobscotland@cosla.gov.uk

Website: www.myjobscotland.gov.uk

City & Guilds

Address: 1 Giltspur Street, London EC1A 9DD

Tel: 020 7294 2468

Email: learnersupport@cityandguilds.com

Website: www.cityandguilds.com

CITB-ConstructionSkills

Skills for the construction industry

Address: Bircham Newton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH

Website: www.cskills.org

CITB NI

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: Nutts Corner Training Centre, 17 Dundrod Road, Crumlin, County Antrim BT29 4SR

Tel: 028 9082 5466

Email: info@citbcsni.org.uk

Website: www.citbcsni.org.uk

Construction Employers Federation (CEF)

Irish enquiries

Address: 143 Malone Road, Belfast BT9 6SU

Tel: 028 9087 7143

Email: mail@cefni.co.uk

Website: www.cefni.co.uk

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

Address: Bircham Newton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH

Tel: 0844 5768777

Website: www.cscs.uk.com

bConstructive

Publisher: CITB-ConstructionSkills

Tel: 0344 994 4010

Email: myapprenticeship@citb.co.uk

Website: www.bconstructive.co.uk

Inside Careers

Specialists in graduate careers

Address: Unit 6, The Quad, 49 Atalanta Street, Fulham, London SW6 6TU

Tel: 020 7565 7900

Website: www.insidecareers.co.uk

Scottish Building Apprenticeship and Training Council (SBATC)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Crichton House, 4 Crichtons Close, Holyrood, Edinburgh EH8 8DT

Tel: 0131 5568866

Email: registrar@sbatc.co.uk

Website: www.sbatc.co.uk

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Address: Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP

Tel: 01923 260000

Email: ecitb@ecitb.org.uk

Website: careers.ecitb.org.uk

JTL Training

Address: National Administration Centre, Unit 3H1, Third Floor, Redwither Tower, Redwither Business Park, Wrexham L13 9XT

Tel: 0800 0852308

Website: www.jtltraining.com

SummitSkills

Skills for building services engineering sector

Address: Vega House, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes MK15 0DF

Tel: 01908 303960

Email: enquiries@summitskills.org.uk

Website: www.summitskills.org.uk

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA)

Address: The Priory, Stomp Road, Burnham, Buckinghamshire SL1 7LW

Tel: 01628 607800

Email: info@best-ltd.co.uk

Website: www.best-ltd.co.uk

Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE)

Address: 64 Station Lane, Hornchurch, Essex RM12 6NB

Tel: 01708 472791

Email: info@ciphe.org.uk

Website: www.ciphe.org.uk

Building Engineering Services Scotland

Scottish enquiries

Address: The Walled Garden, Bush Estate, Penicuik, Midlothian EH26 0SD

Tel: 0131 4455900

Email: scotland@best-ltd.co.uk

Website: www.best-ltd.co.uk

Scottish and Northern Ireland Joint Industry Board for the Plumbing Industry (SNIJIB)

Scottish and Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: Bellevue House, 22 Hopetoun Street, Edinburgh EH7 4GH

Tel: 0131 5560600

Email: info@snijib.org

Website: www.snijib.org

Northern Ireland Master Plumbers' Association

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: 38 Hill Street, Belfast BT1 2LB

Tel: 028 9032 1731

Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers' Federation (SNIPEF)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Bellevue House, 22 Hopetoun Street, Edinburgh EH7 4GH

Tel: 0131 5560600

Email: info@snipef.org

Website: www.becomeaplumber.com

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith

Cymraeg

Welcome to Careers Wales

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