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Fancy Becoming a Plumber? Here is What it Takes!

By:India Cooper

Plumbing is a highly qualified, skilled profession so how do you get yourself started? Firstly be patient. It takes three years or more to gain the basic qualifications and you should then work with an experienced plumber for at least a couple of years before starting up on your own. You need knowledge, skills and experience all of which take time to develop.

First you need to get yourself on an NVQ course at a technical college. Most colleges require a grade A - C in Maths and Science GCSE to show you can cope with the equations, technology and problem solving involved and they may give you an aptitude test when you apply. In terms of other abilities you need to show you have the ability and motivation to learn how different plumbing systems work and what are the best systems for a given environment. You must demonstrate you can work under pressure in an emergency situation and that you can use your judgement to work out practical and cost effective solutions to plumbing problems.

To be a plumber you need to know how to install and repair gas, water and waste systems for residential and commercial properties. NVQ qualifications involve theory and practice learnt at college with purpose built facilities. You then spend time with a plumber to give you some on the job experience. NVQ Level 2 gives you a basic knowledge which is good enough to get you started in domestic plumbing but industry bodies advise you to carry on and gain a minimum NVQ level 3 which includes commercial and industrial plumbing and an introduction to gas.

If you want to develop further and be qualified to deal fully with gas and boilers then by law you need to get CORGI registered. This involves passing the CORGI Approved Registration Scheme. All plumbers also need extensive knowledge of the Building Regulations and Water Regulations.

If the technical colleges are full (there is high demand to get on their courses), then there are several organisations that offer short intensive training options and home study courses. If you go down this route then check with your regional City & Guilds office that the course is industry recognised and accredited before parting with cash and time.

As technology develops and environmental matters come to the fore you will need to periodically update yourself on plumbing issues and take time out to go on professional development courses.

In terms of personality customers want someone who is honest, hardworking and able to communicate well. If you become a domestic plumber you will need to be able to work out what a problem is with very little information as few householders really know much about their plumbing systems. And it helps if you are good at explaining in simple terms what you are doing. Customers always appreciate an explanation of what they are spending their money on.

You can't be too precious. You are likely to get dirty, wet and you will find yourself in cramped spaces and sometimes high up - so get over the claustrophobia and vertigo! You'll also have to lug around heavy piping, bathroom fittings etc, so build up those muscles before you start. And forget fashion - its baggy trousers and overalls from now on.

So becoming a plumber is no mean feat. The study and apprenticeship takes as long as training to be a lawyer, however starting salaries are usually low. But after gaining a few years experience you can go it alone and be your own boss, maybe in time even building up a team of your own to manage and work with.

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Article keywords: plumber, plumbing qualifications, plumbing career, tradesmen

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Expert plumber India Cooper explores what it really takes to become a plumber. To find out more please visit

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