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A plumber is in charge of anything that involves pipework on a construction site or in people’s homes.

Average salaries are in the region of £11,000.00 to £35,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

A plumber is in charge of anything that involves pipework on a construction site or in people’s homes.

What they do

As with many other construction jobs, plumbers are always in demand and are needed on a huge variety of projects to install systems in new buildings and fix or maintain existing ones. 

Typical duties include:

  • Installing basic cold water, hot water, sanitation (toilets), rainwater harvesters, central heating systems and sheet lead systems
  • Installing domestic fuel-burning appliances using gas, oil or solid fuel
  • Designing systems
  • Planning work activities 
  • Improving business products
  • Supervising other people

Working in construction as a plumber, you may also be needed to fit weatherproof materials, joints and flashings to roofs, chimneys and walls. 

Working on industrial or commercial buildings, like factories, hospitals or shopping centres will create different tasks than domestic plumbers would face. You may have to work in a small space to reach pipework, or may have to work on the outside of a building or on a rooftop. On bigger projects, plumbers also install heating and fuel supplies, specialist appliances and fire protection systems. 

Hours & Salary:

  • Newly trained plumbers can earn in the region of £11,000 - £15,000
  • Trained with experience plumbers can earn in the region of £16,000 - £28,000
  • Senior/master crafts plumbers can earn in the region of £27,000 - £31,000
  • Self-employed plumbers set their own pay rates

Salaries depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do. 


Visit the Careers Explorer A-Z for more information on all the construction careers available.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

National Apprenticeship Week - Tommy and Sean|2:14

Dawn Ayres is a gas plumber with Incommunities Property Solutions.

I help to refurbish and maintain houses in West Yorkshire. I decommission (shut down) and rip out plumbing systems. First I fix bathrooms and kitchens by getting the pipework ready. Second, I fix bathrooms and kitchens by connecting the pipework to sinks and baths. I install central heating and the pipework for boilers and solve any problems as they occur.

How did you get started?

I chose plumbing after giving my husband a hand and decided I could do it. I like being hands-on and working things out. I helped out on site and did a foundation qualification in construction. I worked in various jobs in manufacturing and offices.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The variety. There are so many different aspects to heating and plumbing.

What skills do you need?

You need to have good planning skills so you can provide the best service to your customer (the person whose house you are working on). Good customer-facing skills are needed as often we are working in people’s houses. Good measuring skills help with tasks such as measuring the length of pipes accurately and the angle they will be installed at. You need good practical, hands-on skills. And you have to be confident and not scared to carry out the job you’re assigned.

Proudest career moment?

All of it, but especially passing all my exams. I achieved my National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Plumbing/Gas Level 3, which I’m really proud of. There is lots to take in and you’re always learning.

Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

Retired hopefully but if I’m still working it would be good to pass on my skills to others.

Any advice on how to get into construction?

Don’t let anything put you off. If you really want to you can.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which of the many construction careers out there is right for you

Qualifications & Training

There is strong competition for places on plumbing courses, so it is helpful to have good GCSE grades (or their equivalent such as the Welsh Baccalaureate or WJEC Construction & the Built Environment L1 or 2 Awards).

To stand the best chance you need at least four at grades A*-C including English or Welsh, maths and science. For construction jobs in Scotland, to get on to a Modern Apprenticeship in plumbing you need a minimum of four subjects at Standard grade (band 3 or 4) or National 4 or 5, preferably including English, maths and a technological subject.

You must hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent to work on a site, pass a health and safety test to qualify for this scheme and you must hold a gas ID card before you can start work.

Many plumbers start their construction careers as an apprentice. Apprentices study towards an NVQ Diploma/SVQ Level 2 or 3 and are taught about the maintenance and installation of various plumbing components and systems. As part of these construction apprenticeships, they also work towards Functional Skills Level 2 (English, Mathematics & ICT at Level 1) or in Wales, Essential Skills.

Advanced plumbing apprentices cover an even wider area, including working with gas, and can enter the profession at an advanced level with a higher salary.

To find an apprenticeship visit the Government's website, or Careers Wales in Wales or in Scotland.

Use our Mythbuster to find out about some of the misconceptions surrounding construction jobs and construction apprenticeships

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 


Total Jobs

The number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted.

Career trends and forecasts

161,110 total people needed

A total of 161,110 construction vacancies in plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (which includes plumbers) will be needed between 2017 - 2021, according to the latest Construction Skills Network research (LMI). The majority of the demand for these jobs in the construction industry will be in the East of England.

Search other careers

Find out more about other roles in the construction industry and what they involve.

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