Why Become
a Plumber?

Plumbing is a lucrative trade. Demand is always high and it’s very resistant to economic downturns. Why? Because virtually every building will need a water system installed, repaired or maintained at some point.

The money and job security are great draws for those looking to switch careers. But plumbing is also a trade with high job satisfaction. You’ll meet plenty of people throughout the day, not to mention be the hero when an emergency call out is needed.

Plumbers also keep people safe, providing drinking water and effective wastewater systems across the country. Remember you don’t have to go down the domestic route – you could work on municipal infrastructure for local authorities or even use your knowledge to help businesses design new plumbing products. In short, it’s a respected profession with huge potential.

Average Earning Potential

Wherever there’s water there’s a need for plumbers, so the earning potential is significant. Starting salaries will vary by region, though fully qualified plumbers can expect to earn upwards of £30,000 per year. Experienced professionals could earn far more if they have their own business with a retained list of clients.

Demand for the Trade

Plumbers are always in high demand. There are new build developments, retrofitting and repair projects, not to mention emergency call outs. Plumbers were among the top three most in-demand trades according to the UK Domestic Trade Skills Index 2022.

Desirable Skills

Plumbers are problem solvers and have to be practically minded. You’ll be working in a range of different buildings, so you’ll need to be familiar with current UK Building Regulations and how different services work together.

Key skills include:

Technical knowledge, such as: Different systems and fitting, Soldering and joining techniques, Jointing, bending and pressure testing, Valves, tapes and cisterns, Plumbing pipework

  • Basic maths
  • Familiarity with different tools and when to use them
  • Knowledge of safety and compliance
  • Physical fitness and flexibility

Don’t forget that good customer service and communication will be needed when dealing with clients – this is especially important if you’re going to set up a plumbing business.


Most plumbers will have entered the trade through an apprenticeship, but there are plenty of options for adult learners or those looking to retrain. Following a different route other than an apprenticeship can be beneficial as other courses can be completed in a shorter amount of time (plumbing and pipe fitter apprenticeships take four years to complete). City and Guilds plumbing courses were once the main training route for adult learners, though now many learn an equivalent NVQ (or SVQ in Scotland).

City and Guilds Level 1 Plumbing and Heating

This is designed for those interested in becoming a plumber or heating engineer, providing a basic overview of the profession.

NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing and Heating

This is the natural progression for those who have completed an introductory course like the one listed above. It’s a programme that requires you to have a secure job so an inspector can come assess your competence.

Gaining an NVQ Level 2 will allow you to apply for a Joint Industry Board Blue CSCS card. This will allow you to work on construction sites.

Your Career Options

You should apply for work to get in-field experience as soon as you have a basic understanding of plumbing systems. Many employers will allow you to split your time between work and study, preparing you for full-time employment. Remember, you’ll need secure work to get your NVQ Level 2.

Those switching careers have several options:

  1. Join an existing tradesperson while studying
  2. Apply for a training scheme with a more established business
  3. Set up as a sole trader or subcontractor once fully qualified

There are plenty of plumbing jobs across the UK, though certain regions may be better for those looking to earn at the upper end of the scale. Plumbing careers in the city, for instance, are going to provide more opportunities when compared to smaller towns with fewer properties and other construction projects. Keep this in mind if you’re keen to go it alone after your training.