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. As a plumber, you should know building regulations, safety standards, and guidelines. Some plumbing professionals work alongside architects, contributing valuable knowledge. You can work on-site installing plumbing features or in a design capacity.

Plumbers who design or draft blueprints focus on improving the efficiency of the installation process. Plumbing is a profession that has several possible career paths. While most plumbers start doing manual installations, they branch out to various specialities. If you want a higher salary, you can specialise in specific aspects of plumbing. The more unique your speciality, the less competition you will experience.

Being a plumber can be rewarding; most plumbers 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.

Would working as a plumber suit your interest in fixing things? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a plumber role.

plumber jobs

average plumber salary

According to National Careers, the average salary of a plumber ranges from £15,000 to £40,000 per year based on experience level and qualifications. New plumbers with minimal experience have a lower salary than experienced plumbers who have worked for a few years. Apart from the basic salary, employers pay overtime for working additional hours and bonuses.

what factors influence the salary of 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 also affects your earnings as a plumber. The demand for plumbers and the cost of living drive up the compensation package of plumbers. If you work in large cities, you will probably provide plumbing services to large companies, increasing your salary. In smaller towns, you primarily work in residential buildings, attracting lower rates.


smiling man
smiling man

types of plumbers

Some types of plumbers include:

  • commercial plumbers: commercial plumbers work in commercial settings, such as colleges, schools and manufacturing plants. Your 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: these plumbers work in commercial and residential settings. You do maintenance and repair on plumbing systems. You might also fix leaks, eliminate clogs and clean plumbing systems and fixtures.
  • residential plumber: residential plumbers maintain and repair plumbing fixtures and pipes in a residential setting. You do small-scale plumbing jobs and work with water systems, pipes and toilets. You focus on resolving plumbing issues in homes.
  • sanitary plumber: your work in this area centres on sanitary systems. Most sanitary plumbers work in residential settings unblocking and clearing jams in domestic sanitary 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.

working as a plumber

Working as a plumber involves installing and maintaining pipes in various businesses. Let's explore the work environments and daily activities of a plumber.


education and skills

While you don't need post-secondary education to become a plumber, academic qualifications boost your employability. Some of the educational qualifications include:

  • college course: to become a plumber, you can complete 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 5 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.

skills and competencies

Some of the skills and competencies of plumbers 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 is crucial to be physically fit to perform the 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: as a plumber, it is important to evaluate a situation, assess the options quickly, and determine the proper course of action. Organising your working time efficiently also helps to maximise your earning potential.
man smiling to someone
man smiling to someone


FAQs about working as a plumber

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.