Construction, Mechanical & Electrical Trades

Plumbers install and maintain the water supply, sanitation, drainage and central heating systems in houses and industrial and commercial buildings. Some plumbers work on new buildings on construction sites. A domestic plumber works in people's homes fitting and repairing the pipework and water systems.

Work Activities

Plumbers install the hot and cold water systems, sanitation, drainage and central heating systems. They also install the pipework and controls for gas supply.

  • They cut, bend and join pipes and fittings using a variety of hand and power tools
  • Once the system has been installed, the plumber must test it to make sure that it is working efficiently and safely
  • Plumbers carryout maintenance and repair work. They find any faults in the system, then repair or replace damaged parts and carry out tests to make sure that the system works properly again
  • Service gas and oil-fired central heating systems
  • Install and repair domestic appliances such as showers and washing machines
  • Plumbers may be called out at short notice to deal with emergency repairs such as boiler breakdowns
  • Fit weather-proof materials to roofs

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for plumbers

  • Practical skills
  • Be able to work carefully and follow technical drawings and plans
  • Be physically fit as the work involves a lot of bending, kneeling and working in confined conditions
  • Domestic plumbers need good people skills as they meet customers in their own homes
  • Be comfortable working at heights
  • Be aware of the importance of health and safety in the industry

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of plumbers

  • Plumbing contractors and companies specialising in heating or drainage
  • Experienced plumbers can become self-employed


Qualifications and training required

  • Many people enter this profession on an apprenticeship. You learn the skills of the job and get paid, whilst also studying towards an NVQ Diploma Level 2 or 3.
  • Organisations like City & Guilds and Edexcel offer relevant qualifications.
  • Advanced plumbing apprentices can also learn about working with gas.
  • After training, you could join the Gas Safe Register or Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) to show that you are qualified to work on gas or oil-fired appliances.
  • Most building companies require a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to show that you are qualified to work on site.

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