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Plumbers fit and service hot and cold water systems, heating systems and drainage networks.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £15,000 to £40,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) in maths, English and science.

You'll also need to get an industry-recognised qualification like a level 2 or 3 Diploma in Domestic Plumbing and Heating. You’ll need gas related units at level 3 to work with domestic gas heating systems.

You could take a course in plumbing skills at college. This may help you find a trainee position with a company.

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

Go Construct has more information about careers and qualifications in plumbing.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • number skills
  • the ability to follow technical drawings and plans
  • practical skills and the ability to follow safe working practices
  • customer care skills

3. What you'll do

Depending on your qualifications, you'll service and repair heating, water and sanitation systems in domestic and commercial premises.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • measuring and planning to give cost and time estimates
  • cutting, bending and joining pipes and fittings
  • installing water, drainage and heating systems
  • finding and fixing faults
  • servicing gas and oil-fired central heating systems and radiators
  • installing and fixing domestic appliances like showers and washing machines
  • dealing with emergency call-outs like boiler breakdowns or blocked drains
  • fitting weather-proof materials, joints and flashings to roofs, chimneys and walls

4. Salary

Starter: £15,000 to £20,000

Experienced: £20,000 to £28,000

Highly Experienced: £40,000 or more

Self-employed plumbers set their own rates.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

As an employee, you'll usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week. You could work evenings, weekends and public holidays, if your firm offers an emergency call-out service.

Self-employed plumbers can work longer hours.

You'll be working in all weathers, and some of your work will be in confined spaces. You could also work on scaffolding or from ladders to repair roof guttering or leadwork.

You'll travel locally between jobs but you may have to work away from home on some contracts. A driving licence will usually be required.

6. Career path and progression

You can develop your skills by taking further training in areas such as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and renewable energy technologies like solar powered heating.

You can also join the Gas Safe Register or get certified with the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC). These would show you're qualified to work on gas or oil-fired appliances.

You could go on to take an HND or degree and become an engineer. This would give you career options in building services engineering, estimating and contract management.

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Last updated: 02 April 2018