Plumbers are responsible for water pipes, fixtures and fittings for both residential and commercial properties. They install and maintain the pipes and may work with everything from showers and sinks to central heating. Plumbing is a skilled trade, and extensive training is required to ensure that the water supply is safe, clean, and will not leak or damage electrical systems in a property.
Plumbers will always be in demand. While some other professions may be replaced by automation or demand may be seasonal or change with trends, plumbers are people who are able to do something that few others can. We all need water for bathing, cooking and cleaning, and we need to know that our water supply and systems are managed effectively.
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Learning to Be a Plumber
Plumbers must be able to work safely in confined spaces and at heights. They need knowledge of safety when it comes to water and how it interacts with other systems such as gas and electricity. They need to be able to read diagrams and plans, and they should also be able to work with a range of tools.
A good plumber will be expected to travel to different job sites, and be able to build relationships with clients and customers, write reports, and analyse and fix faults. Some of these are transferable skills. Some of these are things that they will learn as a part of training to become a plumber.
The best way to learn plumbing is not in a classroom. Too much of what plumbers do requires hands-on experience. Plumbers should gain experience ‘on the job’, and an apprenticeship is a good way to achieve that. Yes, some skills can be picked up in the classroom. There are some basics that you could learn with simple kits, videos and theoretical practice. However, in the real world rooms are not always laid out as you expect. Appliances may be fitted together in strange ways, with components that are ‘hacked’ or ‘bodged’ together around whatever was already in place. Seeing how a more experienced plumber works in those environments is a helpful thing.
What Happens on an Apprenticeship
As an apprentice, a would-be plumber will get valuable experience that they can put on their CV. They will learn the basic skills that are required in order to do simple plumbing jobs, and from there they can go on to earn a Level 3 or Level 4 qualification which they can use if they want to seek employment elsewhere. Plumbing apprentices will learn under the supervision of an experienced plumber that will act as a mentor for them, helping them to learn at their own pace and giving them the opportunity to focus on the areas that interest them the most.
The apprenticeship is more than about pipes, valves and stop-cocks too. The apprentice will get to see the whole of the job. Quoting, reporting, evaluating, ordering, doing the job, cleaning up afterwards, and all of the other intangibles that make a great plumber stand out from the crowd.
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Some people who start an apprenticeship choose to stay on with the company that they did their apprenticeship with. Others move on to another company after completing their qualification. The choice is yours. While you are an apprentice, however, you benefit from student discounts and other perks. Some apprentices earn a small wage while they are working. Your qualifications may be paid by your employer, although depending on the course you opt for sometimes you may have to take out a student loan. If you go the student loan route, do not worry about paying for your qualification. Student loans are designed to not need paying off until you are earning a specific wage, and they are lower interest than the average loan. In addition, they do not affect your credit rating. This means that you don’t have to worry about them in the way you would credit card debt. Student loans are a good investment that will set you up to earn more later in life. With a job as a plumber, you will have stability and security that many other professions (and even some trades) no longer enjoy in an IT focused world.