You can become a plumber through a variety of routes, whether it be through working, attending a college course or undertaking an apprenticeship. There is vocational plumbing training you will need to do, which calls for some basic qualifications. Here’s what you need to know.  

What GCSEs should I take to be a plumber? 

There are no specific GCSE subjects that you should study if you are interested in becoming a plumber. However, you will need at least two GCSE passes at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D) to be accepted on an NVQ Level 2 Diploma course. An intermediate apprenticeship usually asks for those passes to be in English and Maths. 4-5 GCSE passes at grades 9 to 3 are required for a Level 3 Diploma.  

What plumbing qualifications are there?

The City & Guilds Plumbing and Domestic Heating course is one of the new ‘Trailblazer’ apprenticeships providing new entrants with the core skills for a career in plumbing and heating systems. You are trained in all aspects of the trade, including marking up, measuring and cutting pipework, and working with traditional gas, oil and solid-fuel appliances as well as heat pumps and biomass systems. 

The Level 2 Diploma provides all the training a basic domestic heating and plumbing engineer would need to start to develop their career. Intermediate apprentices take this course, which covers the following areas:  

  • Understanding and carrying out safe practices in building services engineering 
  • Understanding and applying domestic hot water system installation and maintenance 
  • Understanding and applying domestic above ground drainage system installation and maintenance techniques 
  • Installing and maintaining domestic heating systems. 

An experienced plumber, advanced apprentice or someone who has achieved the Level 2 Diploma can take the NVQ Level 3 qualification. Level 3 provides a pathway for plumbers to become Gas-safe registered. The mandatory units of the Level 3 Diploma include: 

  • Understanding and carrying out electrical work on domestic plumbing and heating systems and components 
  • Servicing and maintaining domestic oil firing pressure jet appliances 
  • Installing, commissioning and handover of ‘active’ solar thermal hot water systems 
  • Knowing the requirements to install, commission and handover rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse systems. 

Plumbers and heating engineers working on construction sites will need to have a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. Apply for your card here 

Plumbing apprenticeships

As mentioned above, the plumbing training for apprentices involves taking the NVQ Diplomas as part of an intermediate (Level 2) and advanced apprenticeship (Level 3).  

Candidates are required to have up to five GCSEs, usually including English and maths, for intermediate apprenticeships in England. Anyone applying for an advanced apprenticeship in plumbing should have five GCSE passes at Grades 9 to 4, also including English and maths.  

Find a plumbing apprenticeship at Talentview

If you are interested in becoming a plumber, there are a wide range of plumbing and domestic heating apprenticeships available at Talentview Construction 

Find out more about a career as a plumber

Plumbing is a varied and rewarding career, with many opportunities to develop your skills and specialise in certain areas of the trade. Find out more with our detailed guide to plumbing.