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How to become a plumber

by constructaquote - 18 June 2019


Plumbers spend most of their time on a construction site or with customers, so this is a job where strong communication skills are required along with several other skills such as maths and science.

While it’s strictly a 40-hour-per-week job, many plumbers work overtime, although self-employed plumbers can set their own working hours to suit themselves.

Remember though, if you’re on emergency call-out, you’ll be expected to work as and when you’re needed.

According to Total Jobs, the plumbing industry in the UK is short of around 30,000 plumbers and as this particular profession is recession-proof, plumbing can prove to be a very financially rewarding career choice. 

What does a plumber do?

Plumbers install and repair water supply lines, waste disposal systems, and related appliances and fixtures to keep homes and businesses flowing smoothly. Being a plumber is physically demanding, according to Snag. Here are some of the other tasks a plumber will be expected to undertake;

  • Install or maintain heating systems
  • Repair sanitation systems
  • Fit domestic appliances (such as dishwashers)
  • Install air-conditioning units
  • Fit bathrooms
  • Emergency repairs

Not just restricted to helping people at home, plumbers can also work on commercial sites, where they’ll be responsible for the planning of how and where pipes should be laid during construction.

What skills does a plumber need?

An understanding of maths and science is vital along with a head for heights, the ability to work in cramped conditions, and the stamina to complete physically hard work day after day, according to WaterSafe. You’ll also be a strong communicator and capable of dealing with customers on a daily basis.

Read our blog about:Insurance for plumbers

What qualifications do I need?

According to Local Heroes, the most recognised qualifications for plumbers are NVQs and City & Guilds.

Plumbing is an ongoing learning process as new advances in technology emerge. It can take several years to become a fully qualified plumber but the wages are good and many plumbers go on to open their own businesses.


According to an article in The Guardian newspaper, a qualified plumber will start on £20,000 at a medium-sized firm. This wage increases with experience, hours worked and the sort of plumbing carried out, with average earnings around £30,000.

Self-employed plumbers earn the most. They can charge up to £90 an hour, and so could potentially rake in £1,000 each week. This obviously depends on demand and hours, but with the current skills shortage expected only to increase, a tradesman can virtually dictate prices.

Some city plumbers earn up to £50,000 a year, making the job one of the best paid trades.

 A guide to starting a business in the construction industry

5 training courses for plumbers

Coleg Gwent – offers courses to introduce workers to the plumbing industry and allows you to develop basic skills to prepare you for further vocational training which can lead to gas servicing and installation. You don’t need any plumbing experience for the Certificate in Basic Plumbing – it is for anyone interested in working in the plumbing trade.

Plumbing Academy – This plumber course represents perhaps the most extensive form of training a beginner can receive to become a professional plumber, going further than that of a standard plumbing course. The professional plumber course contains all the qualifications you will need, working from the beginning learning about how to fit copper and plastic pipework to registering for your NVQ level 2. With that you’ll be able to gain your PHMES card and seek lucrative employment with plumbing contractors, Housing Associations and Local Authorities.

Able Skills: This 5-day introductory plumbing course has been recognised by City & Guilds as a comprehensive introduction to domestic plumbing and as such, they have accredited the course with a C & G 4555-02.At the end of the course you’ll receive a City & Guilds certificate to confirm the skills you have learned. This course aims to teach the following;

  • Plumbing systems and fittings
  • Soldering techniques
  • Jointing, bending, and pressure testing copper tube
  • Dealing with valves, taps, and cisterns
  • Pluming pipework

City & Guilds: Offers domestic heating and plumbing courses that cover the essential knowledge and skills needed for a successful career in domestic plumbing and heating. Areas of study include:

  • Domestic hot and cold water systems
  • Central heating systems
  • Sanitation systems
  • Environmental technologies
  • Gas safety

The NVQ Level 2 plumbing and heating qualification is designed for anyone that wants to become a plumber or domestic heating engineer. It provides all the basic domestic heating and plumbing training you need to start work in the industry.

The NVQ Level 3 plumbing and heating qualification is aimed at anyone who has already completed the Level 2 qualification, or who already has some relevant experience and knowledge. If you choose gas-related units at Level 3, you will achieve the Gas Safe licence to practise on successful completion of the course.

Leicester College: For people new to the industry to professionals needing additional qualifications these plumbing courses are taught at levels 1, 2, and 3. You can also complete an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in plumbing, or an advanced apprenticeship in gas installation allowing you to earn money while working with an employer and gaining your professional qualifications with us.

From basic skills in plumbing (such as site preparation; plumbing science; and copper pipework) to professional qualifications. Students often progress up through our courses before entering the workforce. It’s also possible after this to progress to a level 3 National Diploma before undertaking a level 4 or 5 (university level) Higher National Certificate/Diploma in Construction and the Built Environment.

If you need plumbers insurance, then find out how constructaquote.com can help you. From public liability, to contractors all risk, we can help you find cover that best suits your business needs.

Disclaimer: The advice provided here are our own interpretations and opinions. We have tried to simplify the main points to create this article and the information provided is for general informational purposes only. While we try to keep the information up-to-date and correct, there are no representations or warranties, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the information, products, services, or related graphics contained in this blog for any purpose. Any use of this information is at your own risk.