How to become A Plumber – Qualifications And Training (UK)

by John

Plumbing is one industry where the work seems unlikely to run out. Becoming a plumber means learning how to install pipes, fittings, systems and accessories for a whole range of water supply, sanitation and heating products, as well as being able to carry out repairs. Unless working for a plumbing company, plumbers are generally self employed or contracted, meaning there is much more variety to the job and, once qualified, no boss breathing down your neck. This is a role that is physical as well as mental and can involve climbing onto roofs or through small spaces, dealing directly with customers who are often less than polite, and working in the same space as traffic if carrying out repairs to something like a water mains. Generally, there is plenty of demand for plumbers, both with general skills and specialised, and it’s not uncommon for those in the profession with a really strong work ethic to be taking home £50k a year.

It’s possible to work as a plumber without qualifications but this generally isn’t a good idea unless you’re working with another qualified plumber, as mistakes can be costly.  Traditionally, most plumbers learned their trade via an apprenticeship, studying for two years at college and working with a plumbing company to acquire that essential practical experience. Over two or three years study, the City & Guilds Plumbing (6089) NVQ level 2 or level 3 can be reached, however, it is often difficult to find places on a college course so always a good idea to apply early and to try to find an apprenticeship as soon as you have made the decision to go down this route. Some college courses require an applicant to pass an entry test to be accepted onto the course as only a limited number of places are available.

Fast track plumbing qualifications are also an option – usually with private training companies - and these can be completed within six months. Be aware though that the course won’t be industry recognised unless it is City & Guilds accredited, resulting in a Technical cert 6129 or the NVQ 6089. Some concerns have been expressed about fast track plumbing courses, mainly over whether they provide enough time to gain the experience that a plumber would get if taking the longer course. However, the fast track course does provide a quick way to get qualified, which means that a new graduate can start exploiting their earning potential as soon as they qualify – an important factor for many people.

The process of becoming a plumber is not very well funded and at present there are few options when it comes to grants for those wishing to train, or to start up a business as a plumber. Some banks may be willing to offer a start up loan for a profession such as this, but if you don’t fancy the interest rates or terms and conditions that banks offer then parents are often a good source of startup capital. Once qualified, plumbers have a number of options, from working for an agency or plumbing company to being self employed, and it is a job that tends to provide for many for life – whether continuing as a frontline plumber or employing others to do the hard graft.  According to City & Guilds, plumbers are one of the top five happiest professions, so there’s a very good argument that getting the training and qualifications is worth all the effort!

This post was written by John

John wrote this post for Blockbusters Emergency Plumbers in the UK

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