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          Helping you find a career in the plumbing industry

          With a skills shortage across the sector, it's an excellent time to tap into plumbing. Our daily lives revolve around water. All of our homes, schools and hospitals rely on our water systems in order to stay up and running.

          Plumbing immediately brings to mind repairing drains, sinks and toilets. Whilst these are vital jobs within the world of plumbing there's so much more that your job could involve.

          We rely on plumbers for the installation of water systems that will be used for generations to come. Any new-build, from a house to a hotel, or a hospital to a stadium, will require plumbers to ensure that the waterworks are safe, reliable and sustainable.

          As a plumber you could work for a private contractor on a project by project basis, which will be arranged for you. Some people prefer this to working as a freelancer because it provides a regular source of income and you do not have to worry about sourcing the next job.

          There is work in the public sector as a plumber to help with the maintenance of public buildings. The NHS, for example, requires a whole plumbing maintenance team to ensure that the facilities at hospitals and other NHS sites are kept up and running for the public.

          Some plumbers choose to progress into the public sector and work within government to make sure research is carried out on our systems and that they remain safe. Another option is to broaden your skillset and move into other areas of construction such as estimating or engineering.

          The huge range of work in plumbing means that you could find a role that suits your working preferences. For example, you could work on a freelance basis on your own fixing water-related problems in people's homes, or you could work with a large firm and be a part of complex projects that will involve a team of people.

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          Skills & interests required for a career in Plumbing

          No matter what role you go into within plumbing, you will have to be able solve complex, practical plumbing problems. A lot of this will come from experience, but you will need to have an affinity for problem solving.

          It's essential that you're good at working with your hands and able to do the work. Some roles can be quite physically demanding. You may also have to work in damp or unpleasant environments - plumbing is not a job for the squeamish!

          The work will require communicating with clients and other teams within a project. You will need to be comfortable explaining problems or solutions clearly to those who are not experts in plumbing.

          Plumbing requires a lot of dedication and hard work because the training process is quite lengthy. You should also remain up to date with any industry changes that might impact how you do your work.

          A drivers' licence will also be very helpful.

          Plumbing apprenticeships & other career progress routes for school leavers

          There are numerous different career progression routes within plumbing.

          You may want to work for yourself or set up your own business and plumbing is a great way to enable this. After you have built up some experience and a name for yourself within the industry, you could open your own company.

          In a large company there may be more opportunities for progression as you could potentially explore other areas of the business such as project management or procurement. As the larger projects will also have larger teams, there could be the opportunity to move into a team leader position.

          There is the option to broaden your skillset and move into wider construction roles through taking a Higher National Diploma (HND). You could go into building engineering, for example, or estimating.

          Alternatively, you could join the Gas Safe Register or gain a qualification with the Oil Firing Association (OFTEC). Then you would be able to work with gas or oil fired appliances and become an engineer. Some companies will offer to pay for this additional qualification if they have a role that will require you to do this.

          Finally, with experience and higher level qualifications you could move into consultancy or work within the government in the public health sector.

          Tips for getting into the field

          Arrange some work experience shadowing a plumber. This will enable you to see what the day-to-day work will be like and if you can visualise yourself doing it.

          What do Plumbing professionals get paid?

          As an apprentice, the minimum that you will be on in the first year of your apprenticeship is £3.70 per hour. After this, the rate changes slightly depending on how old you are:

          Under 18 - £4.20 per hour 18 to 20 - £5.90 per hour 21 and over - £7.39 per hour 25 and over - £7.83 per hour

          However, once qualified you can expect to earn £21,000 a year and with experience this will increase to between £30,000-£35,000.

          What qualifications do I need for a career in Plumbing?

          To be a plumber you have to obtain the NVQ Diploma (levels 2 and 3) in plumbing and domestic heating. These qualifications have both theoretical and practical elements, so you will have to do a work placement so that you are able to pass the practical elements of the course.

          To work on a construction site you will have to pass your Construction Skills Certification Scheme to enable you to work safely on a construction site.

          Read more about the Plumbing industry

          British Standards Institution

          Plumbing industry bodies

          Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors
          Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering