How to become a Plumber

plumber careers

What does a Plumber do?

Plumbers install, maintain and repair hot and cold water plumbing supplies, and sanitation and waste disposal systems in domestic, industrial and commercial premises. Plumbing also involves working with oil, gas and solid fuel appliances, and central heating systems. Certain plumbing jobs may involve working on the outsides of buildings, making and repairing weather-proof joints and flashings on roofs, chimneys and walls, and installing or clearing guttering and drainpipes.

In the industrial and commercial plumbing sector, plumbers may work on other piped infrastructure such as air-conditioning and extraction units. Plumbers can also be found in the chemical, ship and gas fitting industries.

Some plumbers specialise in sheet metal work, which is usually found on industrial, commercial or historical buildings. This type of work involves using a variety of materials, including plastics, aluminium, copper, lead and zinc.

Plumbers follow diagrams and plans when installing new systems. Repair and maintenance work involves diagnosing and rectifying faults. Completed work must be tested to ensure it complies with relevant Building Regulations.

What's the working environment like working as a Plumber?

Plumbers work 40 hours a week but overtime is common. Some plumbers offer a 24-hour call-out service.

Plumbers work both indoors, often in confined spaces, and outdoors in all weathers. Work on the outside of buildings will usually be at heights.

As plumbers travel from site to site, a driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a Plumber?

To be a plumber you should:

  • be able to read technical drawings and plans
  • have good practical and problem-solving skills
  • have a careful and methodical approach to work
  • be able to work at heights and in confined spaces
  • have normal colour vision for some work
  • be physically fit
  • be aware of safety issues and legal regulations
  • be able to work as part of a team and alone
  • have a polite manner for dealing with customers.

Plumber Career Opportunities

Prospects for qualified plumbers are excellent throughout the country due to the demand for skilled staff. Opportunities exist with plumbing or mechanical engineering services contractors, which range from small businesses to large companies, and also building contractors and public sector bodies such as local authorities.

With relevant skills and training, plumbers can transfer into the heating, ventilation, refrigeration, electrical and air-conditioning industries or run their own specialised sections in larger companies. There may be opportunities to work abroad on contracts.For plumbers working in gas fitting, there may be further options available. See Technician: Gas Service.

Progression routes depend on the size of the employer but could allow movement in to estimating, CAD design or contract/project management. Many plumbers opt for self-employment.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Plumber that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Tel: 08000 688336

British Plumbing Employers' Council Services Ltd (BPEC Services Ltd)
2 Walker Street
Tel: 0845 644 6558

Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers' Federation
2 Walker Street
Tel: 0131 225 2255

Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (IPHE)
64 Station Lane
RM12 6NB
Tel: 01708 472791

Oil Firing Technical Association for the Petroleum Industry (OFTEC)
Foxwood House
Dobbs Lane
Tel: 0845 658 5080

Energy Saving Trust
Tel: 08080 100222

City & Guilds

Part P Self-Certification Schemes
NICEIC Domestic Installer Scheme
Tel: 0800 013 0900

BRE Certification
Tel: 0870 609 6093

Tel: 0870 749 0080

British Standards Institution (BSI)
Tel: 01442 278607

National Association of Inspectors & Testers
Tel: 0870 444 1392