So you want to become a plumber? A career in high demand, get to work with your hands, a new challenge every day, and can be well paid (Pimlico Plumbers have said some of their tradespeople earn over £100k a year). It's rewarding and eventually you might get the opportunity to be your own boss. 86% of plumbing professionals would recommend it as a career, which is an incredibly high figure.
But – unless you have a clear understanding of how to become a plumber, the whole endeavour can become an unnecessarily costly and stressful process. So let us guide you through the journey,point you in the right direction and kickstart your career in plumbing.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, obviously, “Is plumbing the right career for me?”. The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering point to this book as a good starting point.
How to become a plumber
Still think plumbing is for you? Great. Now let's walk through the different options available to you:
Apprenticeships usually take around 2-4 years to complete, where your time will be shared out between classroom lessons at your local training college, and on-site experience where you will be able to implement the theory you've learnt at school.
How do I apply? To get an apprenticeship, you need an employer. This can be done through a training provider, such as JTL Training (www.jtltraining.com) or Building Engineering Services Training (www.best-ltd.co.uk).
Gain professional qualifications
If apprenticeships aren't for you, another option is to look to gain a professional qualification before applying for jobs in the industry.
The NVQ Level 2 plumbing qualification is designed for anyone who wants to become a plumber, providing all the basic plumbing training you need to start work in the industry.
To find out more about the qualification, and search for your local training providers – see here.
There are also a number of fast-track courses available, such as this from Options Skills.
However, note that to complete the NVQ Level 2 qualification, you will need a sufficient amount of work experience and most fast-track courses will not result in an industry-recognised qualification. One common route is to complete a Level 2 Diploma before looking to gain work experience to complete the NVQ Level 2 qualification.
A word of warning from the Chartered Institute of Plumbing-and-domestic-heating:
"Some training centres offer fast-track courses to become a qualified plumber, which will only take weeks/months to achieve. These should be avoided – be especially wary if they suggest you will earn £50-75k as soon as you qualify! On the whole, the fast-track courses that are offered are extremely expensive and do not result in an industry-recognised NVQ Level 2/3 Diploma, which can take at least a couple of years to gain. These qualifications are work-based, which can only be assessed once someone has undertaken work experience."
Before you apply
Once you've enrolled/completed an accredited course, you can apply for Trainee membership to the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE). This will give you access to an e-learning portal to support you in your training. You will also here be eligible for different awards and bursaries as you begin to start your career in the industry, while this is also a good place to advertise your services if you're looking for work experience to help complete your NVQ Level 2.