What is a Plumber?

A Plumber is a skilled professional responsible for installing, maintaining, and repairing plumbing, heating, and water systems in various settings, including homes and public buildings. They play a vital role in ensuring that water and heating systems function correctly and efficiently. In this guide, we’ll explore what plumbers do, how to become one, potential earnings, career prospects, and related opportunities in the United Kingdom.

What Does a Plumber Do?

Plumbers have diverse responsibilities, including:


  • Installing plumbing systems, including pipes, fixtures, and appliances, to provide clean water supply and drainage.
  • Setting up heating systems, such as boilers, radiators, and underfloor heating, to regulate indoor temperature.


  • Performing routine check-ups and inspections on plumbing and heating systems to ensure they function correctly.
  • Identifying and repairing leaks, clogs, and malfunctions in pipes and fixtures.


  • Responding to plumbing emergencies and conducting repairs promptly to minimize damage.
  • Fixing or replacing faulty components, such as faucets, toilets, and water heaters.

Plumbers often work both indoors and outdoors, sometimes in confined spaces or at heights. They may need to travel to job sites, making it advantageous to have a driving license and access to their own vehicle.

How to Become a Plumber

Becoming a Plumber involves a combination of education, training, and practical experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pursue a career as a Plumber:

Entry Requirements

  • To gain fundamental practical skills, you can start by completing a relevant course. Options include the City & Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Introduction to Plumbing Skills (2000-14), the City & Guilds Level 2 Diploma in Access to Building Services Engineering (2000-02), or the City and Guilds Diploma Level 2 in Plumbing Studies (6035-02). These courses provide foundational knowledge and can serve as a starting point for further qualifications or employment.

Apprenticeship Training

  • A common and practical route to becoming a qualified Plumber is through an apprenticeship program. These apprenticeships typically last 2 to 3 years and involve a combination of on-the-job training under the guidance of experienced professionals and classroom-based learning at a college to obtain qualifications like NVQs.
  • To become a fully qualified Plumber, you will need to complete an industry-recognized qualification at either Level 2 or Level 3, which you can achieve while participating in an apprenticeship. Common qualifications include the City & Guilds NVQ Diploma in Plumbing and Heating or Installing and Maintaining Domestic Heating Systems, as well as the Excellence, Achievement & Learning Limited (EAL)’s Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Plumbing and Heating.
  • Entry into apprenticeships or training schemes may require passing a selection test and having your colour vision tested.

Professional Memberships

  • After obtaining recognized qualifications and gaining practical experience, you can become a member of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE), which offers networking and professional development opportunities.
  • For those working with gas fittings and appliances, Gas Safe registration and possession of a Gas Safe ID card are legal requirements.

Working Conditions

Plumbers work in various environments, both indoors and outdoors, depending on the specific task at hand. They may find themselves in confined spaces or working at heights, and they often need to travel to different job sites. Additionally, some plumbers work within organizations that offer a 24/7 call-out service, requiring them to be available at all hours, including nights and weekends.

Plumber Salary

The salary of a Plumber can vary based on experience, qualifications, and location. Here’s a general salary range for plumbers:

  • Newly qualified plumbers can earn approximately £19,000-£25,000 per year.
  • Experienced plumbers with several years in the field can expect salaries ranging from £25,000-£40,000.
  • Self-employed plumbers have the potential to earn higher incomes as they negotiate their own rates of pay.

Career Prospects and Progression

Plumbers have a wide range of career opportunities and specializations:

  • Plumbing skills can be applied in various areas, including heating and ventilation, refrigeration, air conditioning, gas servicing, and kitchen and bathroom fitting.
  • With additional training, plumbers can transition into roles focused on gas central heating installation and repair.
  • Plumbers may also specialize in installing and maintaining renewable energy technologies, such as solar water heating systems and ground source heat pumps, to contribute to sustainable systems.
  • Career progression can lead to supervisory, training, or managerial positions within plumbing companies or organizations. Alternatively, some plumbers choose to become self-employed and establish their own businesses.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Working as a Plumber offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages:


  • Plumbers may be called to address plumbing emergencies at any time of the day, which can be challenging but financially rewarding.
  • Successfully solving complex plumbing issues and making customers happy can be highly satisfying.


  • The unpredictable nature of plumbing emergencies can be challenging for individuals with family commitments.
  • Plumbing work often requires physical fitness, as it involves bending, kneeling, and working in tight spaces. Plumbers must also be comfortable working at heights.

Related Opportunities

If you’re interested in the construction and building services industry, you might explore related career opportunities:

  • Gas Network Operative: Specializing in the maintenance and operation of gas distribution networks.
  • Heating and Ventilation Engineer: Focusing on heating, cooling, and ventilation systems in buildings.
  • Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineer: Specializing in the installation and maintenance of cooling and air conditioning systems.

Further Information

For additional resources and information on pursuing a career as a Plumber, you can visit the following organizations:

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