Plumbers are required to be knowledgeable about everything in the plumbing trade, from fixing domestic boilers and using advanced welding techniques to fixing basic sink taps and repairing computerised control systems. To reach this level of expertise, an apprenticeship may be the best path to mastering the whys and hows, along with the whats and wheres in the trade.

Qualifications for an apprenticeship

No formal entry qualifications are required, but normal colour vision is a necessity. The following conditions set out by Plumbing Apprenticeships UK state that in England or Wales:

  • Applicants must be aged 16 or over.
  • Applicants must be eligible to work in the UK (that includes all EU citizens).
  • Applicants must not be enrolled in full-time education at the time the course is in progress.

For Scotland and Northern Ireland, there are some additional conditions that need to be met:

  • Applicants must have earned a minimum of four ‘Standard Grades’ at level 4 or above, desirably including Maths, English, Science and Craft Design and Technology.
  • Applicants must pass the “Plumbing Industry’s Apprentice Entrance Selection Test” as set by the ‘Modern Apprenticeship’ scheme.

There is no upper age limit for application into an apprenticeship position; but employers are subsidised by the Government for an apprenticeship up to the age of 24, so it follows that preference is given to people from 16-24.

Types of plumbing apprenticeships in England & Wales

  • Intermediate Level, aimed at complete novices. On completion, an NVQ level 2 Qualification in Plumbing (equal to 5 GCSE passes) is awarded.
  • Advanced Level (for those with an NVQ level 2 qualification). Leads to an NVQ level 3 Qualification in Plumbing and is equivalent to 2 A level passes.
  • In Scotland & Northern Ireland there is only one level: the SVQ, a Level 3 qualification recognised throughout the plumbing industry.

The usual time it takes to complete an apprenticeship is between 2-4 years for Intermediate and another 2 years for the Advanced Level.

Plumbing toolsFinding employment from an apprenticeship

The attraction of an apprenticeship is the mixture of hands on work experience combined with classroom learning. On completion the apprentice will be fully equipped with knowledge and confidence, enabling the smooth transition from student to fully qualified plumber.

Plumbing needs apprentices, so why not give it some thought.

(Photo by Nate Vack and regan)