There are many people out there who want to become a plumber, but they don’t know what it takes. It’s not always easy into the plumbing business because it takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but it can be done! Getting into plumbing can be a great career move but there are a lot of things to consider before jumping straight in. In this article, we will try and discover if it is the right move for you and how you can become a plumber at 30 or older.
What are the Different Types of Plumbers?
I guess the reason you are here is that you are looking into switching careers or you have finished your partying in your 20s and are hoping to settle on a regular job to pay the bills. Did you know that there is no one size fits all way to get into plumbing and that plumbers can be classified into different groups depending on what type of work they carry out?
A residential plumber is someone that installs plumbing systems into new build residential areas. Plumbing of this kind is relatively small-scale and reasonably simple as most installations will follow a very similar technical layout – water, central heating etc.
A commercial plumber can be classified as someone that works on large-scale projects where there may be one or more large systems. Large warehouses or office blocks will typically have a complicated plumbing system that needs to be installed so commercial plumbers need to have a good understanding of what they are doing to be successful.
Maintenance and Repair Plumber
A maintenance and repair plumber is a normal plumber in all respects and what the majority of people consider all plumbers to be. This type of plumber is the one that you are likely to see come and visit you when you have an issue or a problem that needs solving. To be a good maintenance and repair plumber, you need to have extremely good people skills and be able to solve problems quickly and efficiently.
Gas Registered Plumber/ Engineer
A gas-registered plumber is usually someone that is skilled in one of the above areas but has completed additional certifications to enable them to work with gas. Due to the nature of working with gas, it is a highly regulated industry and to be able to do this you will have to complete accreditations and keep them up to date. There are also different types of gas engineer qualifications depending on what appliances you will be working with.
Note: Remember that all gas engineers are plumbers but not all plumbers are gas engineers!
How to Become a Plumber at 30 or Older
As apprenticeships are aimed at 16-21-year-olds, you may be wondering if there is any way that you can still become a plumber at 30. The answer is yes, you can. You are never too old, and forget the naysayers, there are still a couple of ways to retrain and become a plumber at 30 if that’s what you want to do.
If you already have a job and aren’t in any rush to get retrained immediately, you can have a look at an evening course. Depending on your current skill set, you should be able to start at level 2 but if you are unable to meet the entry requirements, you may have to start at level 1. These part-time courses are convenient and can be worked around your current commitments and are usually spread out over a couple of years. A great way to complete the syllabus required to get yourself into the plumbing industry.
- Levels 2 & 3 Diploma in Plumbing
- No pressure environment
- Train around other commitments
- Can take a couple of years
- Can be expensive
- No on-site experience
Fast Track Plumbing Course
Fast-track plumbing courses are exactly that – fast. There are usually around 20 weeks of intensive training for you to gain the qualifications that you need (10 weeks level 2 & 10 weeks level 3). These courses are ideal for people who want to gain their qualifications quickly so they can get out there and get the experience required to reach their earning potential.
- Levels 2 & 3 Diploma in Plumbing
- Fast completion time
- No on-site experience
- Gas registration separate
Starting out as a plumber’s mate could gain you entry into the industry, especially if you already have a bit of knowledge, maybe from DIY jobs that you have done at home etc. This would be a good way to learn from someone more experienced in a kind of de facto apprenticeship – although you would not gain any official qualifications.
- An easy route into the industry
- Gain valuable experience on the job
- Low pay
- No qualifications
Skills Required to Become a Plumber at 30
Although you will be embarking on full training to become a plumber, there are a few skills that you will need to become successful.
To enter the training at level 2, you will require Maths & English GCSEs at grade C or equivalent. I am not sure how strict this is but if you do not have these officially but can demonstrate ability at that level or higher, that may be acceptable. If not, you will need to start at level 1 and the entry requirement for that is level 3 literacy and numeracy.
Ultimately, the reason for having English and Maths abilities is that you will be required to read manuals and complete installations according to technical drawings.
Yes, people skills are certainly a desirable trait when in the plumbing industry as you are dealing with various people on a daily basis. Whether that is site managers chasing completion times or members of the public calling you about their boiler making noise or their toilet backing up.
Being able to communicate with all sorts of people politely and professionally is something that is very important.
Manual Dexterity and Coordination
Yes, this one seems a little obvious but you will need to have dexterity and good control of your fine motor skills as plumbers often find themselves contorted and in uncomfortable positions while trying to get at fittings that are difficult to reach.
If you are looking to be a regular plumber who visits people’s houses to fix their issues, you need to be a keen and calm problem solver. Most members of the public do not have any idea why their boiler sounds like it is going to take off or why their drains outside smell like a sewage plant. You need to be able to remain calm, assess the situation and stay in control whilst finding the problem.
Note: There is nothing worse than hiring a professional who loses control and panics when something goes wrong.
Plumbers are often put in situations where their very health is put at risk. Although most health and safety is based on common sense; sense isn’t always that common and that is why so many people are hurt each year. It is especially important to learn the safety aspects of the job and adhere to good practices to keep yourself and your customers safe at all times.
Things to Consider Before Becoming a Plumber at 30 or Over
There are a few considerations to make before retraining in any new discipline and that certainly includes plumbing.
Do you have all of the required skills that we outlined above or are you confident in your ability to learn them?
Some of the courses available are spread over a long period of time which is great if you are already working but if you want to get trained sooner rather than later, you will need to do a more intensive full-time course.
Do you have the funds to pay for the required courses? The courses can be expensive and once you have gained the qualification, it will still be some time before you earn the big bucks as you will need to gain some real on-site experience. Even the smartest of people who pass these courses will need valuable experience alongside a time-served professional.
As you can see, becoming a plumber at 30 or even older is possible but it will take a lot of hard work and dedication, especially if you are training around another job and have a family etc. In life, they say that you get out of it what you put in. The same will be for anyone who wants to retrain as a plumber at 30 or 40 or even older. If you put in the hard graft, it will pay off.
Plumbing Wizard Tips
“It is the same with anything, the more you practice, the better you become – so get to it!”
“Shop around for courses, there are so many to choose from, and you will want to get the best deal that suits you!”
“Do not listen to the naysayers – there are always negative people around but if this is what you want to do – GO FOR IT!”
“If you do not have the formal qualifications to start at level 2 but are comfortably at that level – see if they will let you prove your ability so you don’t have to start at level 1!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I become a plumber at 40?
Yes, if you want to become a plumber at 40, I would recommend trying to find a level 2 diploma in plumbing course to start you off. This will at least get you started and onto a site where you will truly begin to learn the trade.
Is learning plumbing easy?
Yes, learning plumbing is easy as long as you are determined and put in the hard work. It is the same with anything, if you do not know how to do it, it takes time to learn.
What Certificates do I need to become a plumber?
To officially become a plumber, you need a level 3 diploma in plumbing. A level 2 will get you onto a site where you can gain experience, but you will be considered an improver until you have level 3 alongside the on-site experience.
What’s the average salary for a plumber?
The average salary for a plumber varies based on experience, location, and specialisation. In general, experienced plumbers or those with specialities (like gas engineers) tend to earn more.
Are there job opportunities for older plumbers?
Yes, the plumbing industry values experience. Older plumbers, especially those with a variety of skills and expertise, are in demand. Age is less of a barrier than in some other professions.
Do I need a specific license to work in different states or countries?
Licensing requirements vary by location. Some states and countries require plumbers to obtain a license, while others might not. It’s essential to check local regulations.
What are the physical demands of being a plumber?
Plumbing can be physically demanding. It often requires lifting heavy objects, working in tight spaces, and standing for extended periods.
How can I specialise further after becoming a plumber?
After getting your foundational certifications, you can specialise in areas like gas fitting, pipeline construction, or even HVAC systems. Specialisations often require additional training and certifications.
Is there a high demand for plumbers?
Yes, skilled trades, including plumbing, are in high demand in many areas due to a shortage of trained professionals and the essential nature of the work.
Can I start my own plumbing business once trained?
Yes, after gaining experience and understanding the ins and outs of the industry, many plumbers start their own businesses. It’s essential to understand both the trade and business aspects.
How does plumbing technology change, and how can I stay updated?
Like all industries, plumbing sees technological advancements, from new tools to eco-friendly systems. Joining a professional organisation and attending workshops can help you stay updated.
What’s the difference between a journeyman plumber and a master plumber?
A journeyman plumber has completed their apprenticeship but typically works under the supervision of a master plumber. A master plumber has more experience and has often passed a state-sanctioned test, allowing them to take on apprentices and pull permits for plumbing work.
Is there a community or association for plumbers?
Yes, there are several national and local organisations for plumbers. These associations offer networking opportunities, training programs, and industry updates to their members.
Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.