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Plumber

Plumbers fit and maintain water systems in buildings. This includes toilets, baths, showers, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers. They can also install central heating systems but need additional qualifications to work with gas boilers. Plumbers install new pipework, service older systems, identify and fix faults, and may attend emergency call-outs when water or heating systems are damaged.

Average salary*

£19000

-

£60000

Typical hours per week

37-40

How to become a plumber

There are several routes to becoming a plumber. You can gain the qualifications you need by doing a college course or an apprenticeship. If you already have relevant experience you may be able to apply directly to an employer or train on the job.

You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options will list qualification requirements many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.

College/training provider

There is strong competition for places on plumbing courses. You could do a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Plumbing and Domestic Heating. Afterwards, you could apply for a trainee position with a plumbing company.

You’ll need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) (level 2 course)
  • 4 - 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) (level 3 course).

Apprenticeship

An apprenticeship with a construction firm is a good way into the industry. Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you will be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.

 An intermediate plumbing apprenticeship takes two to four years to complete. 

You’ll need:

  • Up to 5 GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and maths (intermediate apprenticeship)
  • 5 GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English and maths (advanced apprenticeship).

Work

If you have GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and maths, along with good practical skills, you might be able to get a job as a plumber’s mate, trainee or assistant. Your employer may then help to provide training so you can qualify.

If you have qualifications or experience in building services or heating and ventilation engineering you may be able to apply directly to an employer.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works in construction. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV. 


What does a plumber do?

As a plumber you could be:

  • Installing hot and cold water, sanitation and drainage
  • Setting up rainwater harvesters and lead soakers
  • Installing central heating systems and domestic fuel-burning appliances using gas, oil or solid fuel
  • Designing water and heating systems
  • Cutting and joining pipes and fittings
  • Measuring or assessing sites to provide clients with an estimate
  • Servicing systems and fixing faults
  • Responding to emergency call-outs such as floods or boiler breakdowns
  • Working at a client’s home or business, often at height or in cramped conditions.

How much could you earn as a plumber?

  • Newly trained plumbers can earn in the region of £19,000 - £25,000
  • Trained with experience plumbers can earn in the region of £25,000 - £30,000
  • Senior/master crafts plumbers can earn in the region of £30,000 - £60,000
  • Self-employed plumbers set their own pay rates*

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

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources and have been updated as of 2019


Jobs

Check out the latest plumber vacancies:

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

Plumbers deal with rapidly changing technologies, so you will need to keep training to stay up-to-date.

You could specialise in one area of plumbing such as sanitation, air conditioning or ventilation. 

If you work as part of a larger team, you could become an estimator, or progress to be a team leader or senior manager.

You could study for a Higher National Diploma (HND) or a degree to become an engineer. This would open up careers in building services engineering and other construction jobs with a higher average salary.

Some plumbers become instructors or tutors at local colleges, to pass on their skills. You could also become self-employed and work as a subcontractor.

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Plumber Working in houses & other construction sites, you'll be responsible for installi...
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  • Current role Estimator Work involves calculating the cost of supplying products or services for clients...
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  • Current role Building services engineer Working with construction & client teams building service engineers ensure build...
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  • Current role Instructor / assessor / tutor Further Education (FE) instructors, assessors and tutors teach construction skil...
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  • Current role Self-employed contractor/sub-contractor As a contractor or subcontractor, you'll be working directly with your clients t...
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  • Current role Senior manager Working on different construction projects, you'll be responsible for managing y...
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