How to become a plumber

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Plumbing is one of the core trades of the construction industry. Without plumbing, we wouldn’t be able to flush our toilets, heat our homes, or have 24/7 access to clean and safe water. If you’ve got a keen mind for problem solving and the drive to keep our homes working efficiently then you’re in the right place...

Plumbers are currently in short supply and with the UK government aiming to build 300,000 homes each year by the mid 2020s, the demand for plumbers will only increase.

Recent research shows that on average, plumbing is one of the highest paid trades. This is largely down to the high demand for plumbers in the UK, so it is a great time to get started in the plumbing trade and there are plenty of training opportunities to choose from.


A day in the life of a plumber

Plumbers spend most of their days on the road, between different customers’ homes and businesses. Most plumbers will offer emergency call outs, for customers who have blocked, unusable toilets or worse - a burst water pipe.

Offering emergency call out services is up to you, but if you do you should prepare to be on call 24/7 - this will only help your reputation grow stronger with the more customers you rescue.

Plumbing runs throughout our homes, often in places we don’t see. Plumbers regularly have to access small and cramped spaces such as lofts, so you should be comfortable with the likelihood of working in these conditions.

Once you’re self employed you will have the flexibility to schedule your own days and work where you want, when you want.


Plumbing training and experience

Traditional training can take up to four years, including classroom and on site experience that gives you the tools to be on your way in your new career.

This can done either through a college course, which will focus on the classroom side of things, or an apprenticeship, where you'll spend more time on the job, learning as you go.

Both routes are set up to give you a good mix of practical and theoretical skills.

There are quicker “intensive” training options available, which should cover everything you need to know, but won’t provide the same on-site experience.

These can take as little as six weeks and could cost up to £3,500.

These are a good option if you want to jump in at the deep end, but in the long run there’s no substitute for on site experience.

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Plumber salaries

The average plumbing apprentice working for a company may earn around £15,000 to £20,000 in their first year of training. If you decide to do an intensive course and go self employed straight away, you could immediately start earning more, potentially £40,000+ - it all depends on your skills and how much work you’re willing to put in.

We estimate that a plumber charges between £40-£60 per hour, in London this could be even higher, as much as £80 per hour. Emergency call-outs would be charged at an extra cost, around £100 in the UK and up to £200 in London.

A career in the trades