Plumbing Training Courses

Plumbing Training Courses Courses

The most frequently asked questions

Here are a few questions about plumbing training courses most potential plumber’s ask before starting out. This is not a comprehensive list but many of these have been compiled from the the CIPHE questions and answers page.

These are relavant and represent a good spread of questions which cover many aspects of the plumbing trade. We are also prviding information on other trades and other courses. Take a look at plastering courses and online college courses.

Q – What qualities do you need to be a good plumber? What about plumbing training.

A – You need to be a practical sort of person that gets satisfaction from doing a
job to the best of your ability.

Maths, engineering and science are important factors in plumbing work, so it would be beneficial to have an A-C GCSE pass in
these subjects.

soldering a copper pipe image

You will also need to be trustworthy with good communication
skills to deal with customers. Plumbing is a hands on trade and it requires people to have an aptitude for developing their practical skills.

Q – How do I become a plumber?

A – You will need to complete a plumbing course aimed at N/SVQ level 2/3
qualification, or similar. These courses are usually run by Technical Colleges throughout the United Kingdom.

Q – Do you recommend trainee plumbers to aim for a particular NVQ Level?

A – Yes. It is recommended that you attain S/NVQ Level 3, to be fully competent.

Q – How long will it take to qualify?

A – It can take around three years to reach S/NVQ level 3, but it can be achieved
quicker than this, or it can take longer – it depends on the individual. There are many routes to achieving this and we will look at these a little later.

Q – The plumbing courses at my local technical college are full, what do
you suggest?

A – There are often waiting lists for places at technical colleges, but it is worthwhile be patient. There are alternative routes which we will explain a little later.

repairing a ballcock image

Q – Can you recommend an intensive plumbing course that I can do within
a couple of months?

A – The CIPHE does not recommend this type of course as they believe learning has to be reinforced over a period of time, especially the practical side of things.

They believe that some intensive plumbing courses do not do the job required. They say that it takes years of learning to be a plumber, and they say that some ‘certificates’ that are not recognized by the industry at all.

They go on to say that a few weeks in a workshop does not give the experience necessary to work on people’s plumbing systems.

The Institute advises that the best way to train is through a recognized training provider (e.g. a college) on an accredited course (e.g. NVQ Level 2). The team at does not agree with this and will offer a few reasons why and provide excellent training examples later.

repairing a ballcock image

Q – I’ve seen an advert which offers distance learning courses in plumbing.
Will I be able to qualify as a plumber if I do this?

A – The CIPHE says to be a fully qualified plumber you need an adequate amount of practical study to accompany the theoretical side. Part of the S/NVQ Level 2 plumbing courses taught at technical colleges includes mandatory work experience. You will not be adequately trained on a theory only course.

Q – Is it difficult to get work experience?

A – Yes. The majority of one-man bands cannot afford to take on a trainee. A
few technical colleges will try to arrange this with a local plumbing employer, but
it would be helpful if you arrange your own work placement.

It is vital to have a
comprehensive understanding of the Regulations, such as Water Regulations
and Building Regulations etc before carrying out practical plumbing work.

Q – How can I arrange my own work placement?

A – You will need to create a CV detailing your educational background and
qualifications gained, along with any work experience.

Books are available at
your local library to show you how to give your CV a professional look. Send
your CV with a short covering letter to the local plumbing businesses in your area
along with a stamped SAE.

Q – I’ve been told that I have to pass a test to get onto a plumbing course,
will this be difficult?

A – This is usually a general test to gauge your ability in maths and problem
solving. The reason this is set is because some people enrolled on plumbing
courses find it difficult to get to grips with the calculations that arise in the course

Plumbing courses have a high drop out rate because people
underestimate how difficult the course is, colleges want to ensure potential
students have the ability to succeed.

Q – I’m 35 and decided to change my career and become a plumber. Will
my age go against me?

A-Unfortunately, there are problems that face a mature plumbing student. It is
extremely difficult to get funding for people over the age of 24 and as a lot of
people in their thirties already have financial commitments, such as mortgages, it
can make it impossible to do a full-time course without the help of an employer.

Employers may be reluctant to take on someone in their thirties, or older,
because they may feel they will have to pay them more.

repairing a tap image
Also those in their 30s may be wishing to set up in business for themselves, an employer will be
reluctant to train someone who will take the training then immediately set up in

Q – Where can I get information on Modern Apprenticeships?

A – Contact SummitSkills or JTL (contact details below) for more information.

Q – What are the job prospects for qualified plumbers?

A – Good plumbers are always in demand and there are many routes of
progression in the industry, including teaching, consulting and working in the
manufacture of plumbing products.

Q – Are female plumbers in demand?

A-In domestic plumbing, sometimes female plumbers can be preferred. With today’s light-weight materials, it is easier for female plumbers to tackle a whole range of plumbing jobs, including work carried out on construction sites. There is no good reason why a female should not have ambitions to work in this industry.

Q – What is the earning potential of the average plumber?

A – On qualifying with a full NVQ Level 3 qualification and in full time employment
you can expect to be earning around £18K a year initially. This could rise up to around £25K after five or more years’ experience.

A self-employed tradesperson can
earn between £30-40K a year BUT out of this will come tax, insurance, parking,
petrol, tools, gas registration (if working on gas) etc.

If working in London the rates of pay will be higher but the overheads are more expensive (congestion charge, parking etc).

Please note: Plumbers work hard for the money they earn. The hours can be long, call-outs can mean you working at unsociable hours and it’s not unusual to find yourself working more than five days a week (especially if self-employed).

Q – Are there any organisations I can join that will help my career?

A – Plumbing students can apply for Trainee membership of the Chartered
Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering. For just £19 per year they can
enjoy the same advantages of membership as qualified plumbers, except they
cannot use the logo or vote at AGMs.

It also shows prospective employers that
you have a professional attitude. Members receive the bi-monthly P&HE
magazine, which is full of industry news, updates on regulations and technical

For more information on joining the CIPHE, please contact the Membership
Secretary, Lesley Challis on 01708 463108 or email
and ask for a Trainee membership pack.

Useful Contacts:

SummitSkills Ltd JTL
Vega House Stafford House
Opal Drive, Fox Milne 120-122 High Street
Milton Keynes MK15 0DF Orpington
Tel: 08000 688336 Kent BR6 0JS
Email: Tel: 0800 0852308

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