UK Plumbing Qualifications Explained

Guide to UK plumbing qualifications

Before I tell you about plumbing qualifications I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate you on choosing this industry as a possible new career move for you. Plumbing is such a rewarding career with great potential to expand your workload. You’ll have job security and with that comes peace of mind, you’ll never be out of work and if you should wish to you could work all over the world. Plumbers are in huge demand and the main reason for this is the fact there just isn’t enough of them to go around.

So there you have it plumbing is a great choice and hopefully as I explain the qualifications you need you’ll be a bit clearer in your mind as what to do next.

When someone decides to become a plumber they may be confused as to what they have to do to get started, you may feel it’s just all too daunting for you, if this is you then please don’t worry, that’s what I’m going to try and help you with here. So read on and let’s get you on the right path towards your new career as a plumber.

What are the basic qualifications needed to become a plumber?

Ok so in order to become what’s known as a “fully qualified” plumber you will need to gain an industry recognised qualification at NVQ levels 2 or 3. The point to make here is that if you’re already working as a plumber but want to improve your portfolio you may be able to start off from another level, I’ll explain more about this later.

However if you’re starting from absolute scratch you’ll need to have either:

Level 2/3 Diploma in Plumbing and Heating or Level 2/3 Diploma installing and maintaining domestic heating systems.

Level 2 Diploma

If you are just entering into the plumbing industry then level 2 is your best bet because it’s here you’ll be introduced to the world of plumbing and will gain all the basic skills that’s required.

There are mandatory units at level 2 and these are:

Being able to understand and carry out good, safe working practices in building service engineering.

You’ll learn how to install hot water systems and also their maintenance in the home.

You’ll be learning how to install above ground drainage systems and the techniques in how to maintain them

You’ll also learn how to install heating systems and the maintenance involved.

Level 3 Diploma

For those who may have already completed level 2 the level 3 qualification is mainly for those who already have a good understanding of plumbing and may also have good experience in the field and for those who can safely work under the minimum supervision.

Level 3 offers a wide variety of options that include drainage, solar heating, hot and cold water systems, water recycling systems and also oil and gas fired appliances.

Level 3 Diploma also covers the ACS safety assessment requirements, which of course is for the gas plumbing options. You’ll need the ACS assessment for when you go for the gas safe register which was once formally known as CORGI. The reason you register with the gas safe register is to greatly improve your workload regarding any potential jobs. The point is that customers are far more likely to go for a plumber who is gas safe registered than one who isn’t.

Plumbing organisations all agree that you should try and get a work placement as quickly as you can after your training begins. This way you can carry out all the theory side of training at your local college or training centre and then all that learning can be put into practice at your work location. Doing this will help you greatly regarding completing the practical sides of your Diploma.

What’s an NVQ?

Ok so when you begin work either for yourself or for someone else an industry body assessor or an NVQ assessor will come and visit you at whatever location you’re working at and will assess your work as you complete different tasks. The awarding bodies could be from City & Guilds, BPEC or EAL. Then if the assessor is happy with the work that’s been carried out you’ll then gain your NVQ. Please don’t panic if however you don’t succeed on the first attempt, you’ll have many more chances to succeed.

What about training and college courses

Training courses and college courses are a very good option for those seeking to spread out their training, you can work to whatever pace you can and work the hours you have spare to commit to studying. Full time and part time courses are available so that it reaches out to everyone wanting to succeed.

The training courses cover absolutely everything that’s required to reach industry recognised standards. The courses will include:

Level 1 certificate introduction to plumbing, level 2 Diploma in access to building services engineering and level 2 Diploma in plumbing services.

Once you complete these courses you can then go further up the scale and maybe greatly boost your chances of getting on an apprenticeship scheme or maybe working as a trainee.

What jobs can I carry out once I qualify?

Once you become a qualified plumber many doors will open for you, there are so many tasks you’ll be able to carry out including, working with air conditioning, heating and ventilation, bathroom fittings, kitchen fittings, gas servicing, refrigeration and so many more. You can install energy technologies and also maintain them these will involve ground source heating pumps and solar water heating pumps, then there’s the latest environmentally friendly technologies that include designing and installing low carbon systems for example the harvesting of rainwater and so many more exciting new technologies being thought of every year.

I’m already qualified but would like to improve my portfolio, what should I do?

There are many ways to keep on improving yourself once you qualify as a plumber for example if you already work with heating systems or oil fired appliances then you should register yourself with the Oil Firing Technical Association competent person scheme.

Also the Chartered institute of plumbing and heating engineering also have many membership options available which will all help you greatly in improving your plumbing portfolio.

Another one is The British Plumber’s Employers Council they will offer you training packages that include ACS assessment preparation. They will also offer guides for your business which would be of great help.

Part P is another great option for improving yourself, what this qualification does is it enables you to carry out electrical work without having to have it signed off by a local authority. By gaining your Part P you will be proving to potential customers and employers that you are fully competent and that you can work safely with electrics. This is bound to greatly boost your workload. Check with your training package as some courses include Part P in the package.

Well that’s it from me regarding plumbing qualifications I honestly hope I have made things appear simpler for you and that you have a better understanding as to what direction best suits your requirements.

All that’s left now is for me to wish you the best of luck with your training to become a plumber, and what a great career it is too!