what is a plumber?

A plumber is responsible for maintaining and installing pipes in homes and businesses. These pipes are used for drainage, irrigation, sewage and drinking water. Working with such important parts of buildings means plumbers must have knowledge of building regulations, safety standards, and guidelines.

Some plumbing professionals work alongside architects, contributing valuable knowledge in the earliest stages of a property development project. You can work on-site installing plumbing features. Alternatively, you can work in a design capacity. Plumbers who design or draft blueprints will focus on improving the efficiency of the installation process. 

Plumbing careers can be varied. This is a profession that has the potential to take several different paths. While most plumbers start by doing manual installations, they branch out to various specialities. If you want a higher salary, you can focus on specific aspects of plumbing. The more unique your speciality, the less competition you will experience.

Being a plumber can be rewarding; most stay in the field for their entire careers. Plumbers who reach retirement age typically continue to work at least part-time. Others choose to help prepare the next generation of plumbers by instructing apprentices and providing education to help them reach their maximum potential.

If you want to know how to become a plumber, read on to find out what qualifications you need, how much you could earn, and the skills you need to bag a job.

plumber jobs

how much do plumbers earn?

One key thing to consider is how much you get paid for plumbing. According to the National Careers Service, the average plumber's salary in the UK ranges from £15,000 to £40,000 per year. In some cases, this figure can go up to as much as £60,000 depending on experience and qualifications. New plumbers with minimal experience have a lower salary than experienced plumbers who have worked for a few years.

Typically, plumbers work between 37 and 40 hours a week. Apart from the basic salary, employers pay overtime for working additional hours, as well as bonuses.

how to increase your salary as a plumber

As a plumber, your earnings depend on experience. You can negotiate a higher salary when you have extensive experience in plumbing techniques. For instance, plumbers who do design and installation work have a better chance of earning a higher salary. Your education also influences your compensation package. Post-secondary education isn't compulsory, but having some qualifications boosts your salary prospects. Any vocational training improves your skills and technical knowledge, increasing your earning potential.

Your location can also affect your earnings. The demand for plumbers and the cost of living drive up the prices that plumbers charge. For instance, if you work in a city, you're likely to be busier than if you work in a smaller town. This will affect how much you earn.

man standing in bus
man standing in bus

what does a plumber do?

So, what jobs do plumbers do? Working in this profession involves installing and maintaining pipes in various businesses. To find out what goes into this role, read on.

plumber job description

Plumbers are responsible for repairing, installing and maintaining commercial, industrial and residential plumbing systems. You fix and maintain pipes, fixtures and other equipment used for water distribution or waste disposal. 

There are different aspects to this work. Some of the main areas include:

  • repairing water pipes: your job is to assess the problems and recommend the best solutions to ensure the plumbing systems are working. You travel to residential homes or commercial properties to fix plumbing issues.
  • installing new water pipes: install new water pipes and plumbing systems in residential and commercial buildings. You read the blueprints and plan new installations. You may install the plumbing system during construction or remodelling. 
  • installing fixtures: aside from setting up the plumbing system underneath a building, you also install fixtures that assist with plumbing. For instance, you install taps, toilets, sinks and bathroom showers. While a construction crew can complete the installation, you ensure that the fixtures are correctly positioned to avoid future problems.
  • using diagnostic equipment: as a plumber, it is crucial to diagnose problems in the plumbing system before recommending solutions. You should be familiar with testing equipment and utilise it in both pinpointing the issues and providing accurate assessments of the problems.

ensuring the plumbing work is compliant: you must ensure the plumbing and drainage systems in a building comply with building regulations and the relevant codes. You also make sure the work quality is of a high standard


where do plumbers work?

Plumbers work in factories, offices, homes and other places with pipes and water systems. If you're a plumber, you will lift heavy materials, work in small spaces, and climb ladders to work overhead. While much of the work is indoors, the job may take you outside to check pipes and other elements of the plumbing system.

You'll also work on the construction of homes, renovations and existing buildings that may need minor or major repairs. Since most of the work is hands-on, you are required to be present in person. Therefore, working from home or remote working opportunities aren't typically available for plumbers.

who does a plumber work with?

You can work in various industries as a plumber, from construction to maintenance companies. Some of your colleagues may include electricians, handymencaretakersgeneral labourers and construction workers. You might also work alongside heating and ventilation engineers and kitchen fitters, as well as other specialists like domestic appliance engineers, gas service technicians and bathroom fitters.

what is a plumber's work schedule?

A standard workweek for plumbers is five eight-hour days. However, as with most construction careers, sometimes you have to work overtime and there may be periods when work is scarce. Additional hours vary based on the sector and region where you work and the requirements of individual projects.

do plumbers carry out emergency work?

Because of the potentially dangerous nature and the amount of damage plumbing emergencies can cause, plumbing emergencies must be dealt with immediately.

So, while there are standard working hours, most plumbers are on standby 24/7. As a plumber, you'll need to be ready to put your skills into practice at different times of the day and charge additional fees for working outside of normal working hours.

what are the career opportunities for a plumber?

As they are part of both construction crews and responsible for the maintenance of buildings, plumbing careers are varied and differ by sector. After gaining experience in the trade, you can take up supervisory roles in maintenance companies.

Alternatively, you can pursue other related specialisations or provide building maintenance services and boost your career prospects. For instance, plumbers have opportunities to become domestic gas heating installers or specialise in kitchen and bathroom fittings.



what are the different types of plumbers?

While there's a lot of overlap when it comes to the training needed and plumbing skills used for each job, there are different types of plumbers who specialise in certain areas. Some of these include:

  • commercial plumber: these plumbers work in commercial settings, such as colleges, schools and manufacturing plants. Responsibilities include repairing and maintaining tanks and pipes in a commercial setting. If you work for an agricultural company, the job involves installing drainage and irrigation systems.
  • service and repair plumber: this work takes place in commercial and residential settings, where duties include maintenance and repairs. You might also fix leaks, eliminate clogs, and clean plumbing systems and fixtures.
  • residential plumber: residential plumbers maintain and repair plumbing fixtures and pipes. You do small-scale plumbing jobs and work with water systems, pipes and toilets. You focus on resolving plumbing issues in homes.
  • sanitary plumber: most sanitary plumbers work in residential settings unblocking and clearing jams in domestic systems.
  • water supply plumber: these professionals work on water tanks, bathrooms, overhead storage tanks and pipes. You install water supply systems and perform basic residential plumbing duties.

advantages of finding a plumber job through Randstad

Finding your plumber job through Randstad provides important advantages such as:

  • a wide variety of training and development opportunities
  • an experienced contact person to provide help if needed
  • a range of opportunities in your area
  • get paid weekly or monthly, depending on the job
  • temporary and permanent contracts

Do you want a permanent contract? A temporary job as a plumber is often a stepping stone to a longer-lasting, full-time role. Every year, thousands of people earn a permanent contract with great employers thanks to a temporary job found through Randstad. What's more, many companies recruit their permanent employees using our services too!


how to become a plumber

At this point, you might be asking yourself 'what qualifications do I need to be a plumber?'. While you don't need further education to join this profession, academic qualifications can boost your employability.

Some of the educational qualifications that employers look for in prospective plumbers include:

  • college course: you can train to become a plumber by completing a college course like Level 2 or 3 diploma in plumbing and domestic heating. You will learn about plumbing systems, installation and maintenance processes for domestic and commercial settings. You can also pursue a T-level in building services engineering to specialise in plumbing for new buildings.
  • apprenticeship: advanced apprenticeship opportunities are available for plumbers. The advanced apprenticeship in plumbing and domestic heating takes up to four years and requires five GCSEs. The apprenticeship programme involves on-the-job training and coursework.
  • work experience: it is important to have work experience to land a job in plumbing. You can go for internships or work placement programmes to gain work experience.

what skills do plumbers need?

As a plumber, you'll need to have certain skills and attributes. Some of these include:

  • physical skills: plumbing requires physical strength, agility and coordination. Working with tools, fixtures and plumbing systems requires good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Plumbers often lift heavy items, climb ladders and stairs, and work in inclement temperatures. Therefore, it's crucial to be physically fit to perform tasks quickly and efficiently.
  • communication skills: listening to your customers, understanding the problem and responding in an easy-to-understand and relaxed way are crucial. Being able to offer recommendations or suggestions clearly minimises misunderstandings.
  • problem-solving skills: it's important to evaluate a situation, assess the options quickly and determine the proper course of action. Organising your working time efficiently also helps maximise your earning potential.
smiling male standing in front of sink
smiling male standing in front of sink

why choose us to find your plumber job

We can help you find the plumbing role that works for you and your skill set. Here's why you can trust Randstad to bag you the job you want:

  • we have over 60 years' experience in placing people in the right roles, so you can trust us to help you find the right match.
  • we've moved with the times, adapting to the current climate and creating technologically advanced services to make the job-finding process as smooth as possible.
  • we've built several strong partnerships over the years. For instance, we work closely with mental health charity Mind.
  • The UK is trying to reach carbon net zero by 2050. To address this, we're aiming for a 10% reduction in our CO2 emissions by 2030.

how do I apply for a plumber vacancy?

Applying for a plumber job is easy: create a Randstad profile and search our plumber job offers. Then simply send us your CV and cover letter. Need help with your application? Check out all our job search tips here!

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