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Gas and heating engineers are specialists, with an in-depth knowledge of the different systems required to provide heating and hot water in domestic and commercial properties.
The trade is central to government plans to decarbonise the built environment. Many new entrants to the industry, for example, are now being trained to install new low-carbon technologies like ground and air source heat pumps. As such, it can be seen as a safe bet for those looking to change careers and move into something with plenty of opportunities to grow.
Specialist knowledge also means high demand and a decent salary. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to see someone become a gas engineer at 40 or even later on in life.
Most recruiters list gas engineer positions around £35,000 per year. However, many earn much higher than this, with some reaching £50,000 or more. This wide range is down to experience, region and the types of clients that businesses work with. Either way, it’s one of the more lucrative trades to move into and noticeably higher than the UK average of £31,285 according to the latest ONS data.
Like other trades, the gas industry has an ageing workforce and lacks new entrants. Yet the demand for engineers remains very high, with millions of UK homes and commercial buildings connected to the grid. Even when natural gas is eventually phased out, experts believe the existing network will be used to support blends with hydrogen fuel. Put simply, demand is consistent and the career is secure even with technical innovations on the horizon.
Though it’s a specialist career, many of skills will be transferable from roles you’ve worked previously. Gas engineering is often methodical, so people who have been managing projects will soon feel comfortable moving into this kind of work. You’ll also need good knowledge of mechanical systems because you’ll be working with a different range of appliances. And you’ll also need to keep up to date with industry developments – so curiosity is key.
The trade is highly regulated. To become a gas safe engineer, there are two main routes. The first is an apprenticeship. While you get plenty of opportunities to learn while you earn, places are limited and competition is stiff. They also take years to complete, so those looking to retrain will usually be better off choosing a fast-track managed learning programme.
While you won’t be paid while you learn, some courses can be completed in as little as 25 weeks. They typically cover:
You’ll also need to apply to the Gas Safe Register. It’s legally required for you to work on different appliances and a prerequisite for employment as a gas engineer. To be added, you’ll need to have completed your training and assessment for the different appliances you want to work on. It’s usually the last step you take on route to full-time employment.
It depends. Traditional apprenticeship courses take four years, though fast-track managed programmes can be completed much quicker. Gas appliances can be dangerous if not handled correctly, so it’s best to invest a good amount of time into your education so you feel confident when working on jobs without someone shadowing.
YOUR CAREER OPTIONS
Formal training is essential for this trade and a good amount of work experience will be needed before becoming fully qualified. Many will choose to stay on with their employer once training and assessment is complete, as it benefits both parties. However, it’s not unusual for new gas engineers to join a larger business or even set up their own business.