Plumbing Apprenticeships

The saying goes that ‘trades never die,’ and it’s so true. As long as we have running water, we'll always need plumbers, so you’re guaranteed a lifelong career. Read to find out more about plumbing apprenticeships.

Plumbing Apprenticeships

Plumbing is an actual art, and going out on a limb here is probably one of the coolest professions going.

Why? Because plumbing is a highly skilled profession where you’ll wear many hats (mainly ones with lights attached to them), travel around the country or possibly the world, and have plenty of opportunity to progress - quickly. 

That also includes one day potentially owning your own business.

The saying goes that ‘trades never die,’ and it’s so true. As long as we have running water, we'll always need plumbers, so you’re guaranteed a lifelong career.

An apprenticeship is the best way to start if you’re ready to plunge into a plumbing career. Read on to find out more and discover why you should do one.

Can you get a plumbing apprenticeship at 16?

You absolutely can. In fact, apprenticeships are designed specifically for you to begin a career right out of school.

Apprenticeships are an alternative route for school leavers to get into work. These schemes combine real work with academic study. Apprenticeships receive on-the-job training and work towards nationally certified qualifications.

A plumbing apprenticeship is a great choice, especially if you learn by getting stuck in rather than full-time classroom learning.

Want to know more about apprenticeships for 16-year-olds? Click below.

Read Apprenticeships for 16-year-olds

What do you do in a plumbing apprenticeship?

Plumbing is the connection of pipes, tanks and systems needed for water supplies, heating and sanitation in a building. A plumber fixes and maintains those systems.

So naturally, a plumbing apprenticeship trains you to do just that. You’ll spend most of your time getting stuck right in with some classroom learning to get the theory down. The best thing of all? As a plumbing apprentice, no two days will ever be the same. You’ll be out on the road, for the most part, so you can expect your days to whizz by.

You can do a plumbing apprenticeship in Levels 2 and 3.

During Level 2, you’ll learn the tricks of the trade, and you’ll begin working under supervision. Whereas you’ll work mostly unsupervised during your Level 3 apprenticeship.

Every apprenticeship is different. However, there will be a set of skills that you will develop during your apprenticeship. These can include…

  • Use, repair and maintain plumbing systems

  • Assist with installing water networks

  • Learning boiler and water systems

  • Locating and repairing leaks

  • Taking, completing and updating jobs using a handheld device

  • Learning how to change fittings.

Of course, there will be some jobs where you’ll need to prepare to see and smell some less-than-pleasant things. Use your imagination here. However, the reward of customer satisfaction at the end of it will always outweigh those trickier moments.

You’re not limited by location either. Sure, you could be everyone’s favourite local plumber, but there’s plenty of opportunity to branch out.

For example, one day, you could be working on the plumbing in a house. The next could see you fixing pipes in buildings like The Shard or even take your plumbing expertise across the globe.

"“I learned a lot of hand skills, and how to use different tools. I definitely noticed a big difference in my problem-solving abilities and working on a building site boosted my confidence considerably.”" Plumbing Apprentice at SSE

FUN FACT: Our fave scientist, Albert Einstein, once said that if he were to be young again, he would choose to be a plumber rather than a scientist.

Where can I find plumbing apprenticeships?

There are loads of reputable companies and training providers that offer apprenticeships in plumbing.

BAE Systems

Despite being known as a multinational defence and aerospace business, BAE Systems also offers apprenticeships in plumbing. The business has also secured 18th place in our 100 Best Apprenticeship Employers table.

Officially known as a Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship in Plumbing, you’ll…

  • Work with water systems and industrial gas pipework (including oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide)

  • Handle everything from servicing domestic systems to working on huge industrial boilers, air-handling units, and humidifiers.

Balfour Beatty

Another one of our Best Apprenticeship Employers (snatching 23rd place), Balfour Beatty is a leading infrastructure group with well over 26,000 employees. They innovate infrastructures that improve our daily lives. They also offer plumbing apprenticeships.

Their Level 3 apprenticeship will see you working alongside experienced plumbers and gas engineers to gain a qualification in plumbing and heating.

"“I really enjoy my apprenticeship. It’s a new experience for me, and I’m enjoying learning and meeting new people. I can see myself improving as a plumber, and also as a professional. My work colleagues really make work enjoyable and have made me feel welcome since I started.” " Plumber at Balfour Beatty

JTL Training

JTL is one of the UK’s leading learning providers for the building services engineering sector. They help apprentices just like you get their feet firmly on the career ladder (literally, ladders will absolutely be involved).

They offer a Level 3 Plumbing and Heating apprenticeship with several businesses across the UK. You’ll work towards receiving…

  • A City & Guilds or BPEC Level 3 Plumbing and Domestic Heating Qualification

  • An Industry certification specific to fuel type

  • A Maths and English qualification if you couldn’t complete them at GCSE level.

You’d be sitting here for a long time if we listed all the possibilities. Why not head to our jobs board to check out the latest roles?

Want to find out more about what it’s really like to do a plumbing apprenticeship? Have a read of honest reviews from real-life apprentices.

Read plumbing apprenticeship reviews

What qualifications do I need to be an apprentice plumber?

The entry requirements for a plumbing apprenticeship depend on the level of apprenticeship you apply for.

Usually, an employer will require the following…

  • For a Level 2 Intermediate apprenticeship, two or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D)

  • For a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship, five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C).

If you didn’t get the qualifications you needed at the end of school, don’t worry - you can still do a plumbing apprenticeship.

There are many employers that’ll hire you based on the skills and level of interest you show in the profession. However, you will need to gain these qualifications during your apprenticeship. 

Some of these skills include…

  • Attention to detail

  • Good communication skills

  • Customer service

  • Using your initiative

  • The ability to use work well with your hands and handle heavy machinery and tools.

How long is an apprenticeship in plumbing?

Your employer will decide the duration of your apprenticeship.

Usually, a Level 2 plumbing apprentice would take two years. Then you’ll move onto a Level 3 apprenticeship, that’s another two years. Overall, you’ll be an apprentice for a total of 4 years.

In terms of your working week, you’ll be expected to work full-time and a minimum of 30 hours per week. Your day could start at around 7am and end at 5pm. However, you might have to do emergency call-outs which can happen at any time.

How much do you get paid in a plumbing apprenticeship?

The great thing about an apprenticeship is that you earn while you learn, right from the start of your training. As ever, the amount you earn in your apprenticeship depends on the level you do.

An apprenticeship currently earns a national minimum wage of £5.28 an hour. However, employers pay well above this.

For example, if you’re doing a Level 2 plumbing apprenticeship, you can earn between £10,000 and £15,000 per year. A Level 3 apprenticeship will get you up to £17,000 per year. This can move up to around £20,000 once you qualify.

The beauty about plumbing apprenticeships is there’s an absolute shedload of them. So it pays to do your research.

Find a plumbing apprenticeship

What can I do after a plumbing apprenticeship?

Well. For starters, you’ll be free to conquer the world one pipe at a time.

Once you’ve qualified and have a few years of experience under your utility belt, you could earn up to £40,000 per year. Adulting never looked so good.

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship and gained enough experience, you can move on to other paths in the plumbing world or undertake training to enter a more specified profession in engineering. For example…

Pipe Laying

Using all that pipe knowledge during your apprenticeship, you could become a pipe layer specialising in digging the trenches to lay piping for several systems, including; water, sewage and gas.

Gas Service Technician

You’ll find that many plumbers are also gas-certified. A gas service technician is responsible for installing and maintaining gas systems throughout a building or site. You’ll be the go-to person for all repairs, replacing faulty and old equipment and ensuring the system is safe.

Building Services Engineer

These engineers are responsible for ensuring a building is safe and comfortable for people to live in or use. Tasks can include designing air conditioning units and lift mechanisms, distributing electrical and water supplies and providing lighting and heating.

A Business owner

That’s right! You can be your own boss and start a business. There are loads of plumbing companies that were started by former apprentices. Pimlico Plumbers is a great example of this. Founded in the 1970s, it’s now easily one of London’s most well-known plumbing companies.

Find an apprenticeship
Recruiting? See how we can help you