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Learn How to Become a Plumber

We love plumbers. Without them, our bathroom products wouldn't be half as popular. To help inspire the next generation, we've put together this plumbing apprenticeship guide that contains all of the information anybody should need when thinking about becoming a plumber.

So What Is An Apprenticeship?

What is an apprenticeship?

Enrolling in an apprenticeship is a fantastic way to get on the job training and an opportunity to earn money while you learn. Popularly an alternative option to perusing an education at university, an apprenticeship allows younger people to get an early start on learning a trade.

Along the way apprentices are able to earn industry-specific qualifications, helping them to become a fully-qualified tradesperson by the end of their apprenticeship, putting them into a strong position when it comes to seeking employment or starting their own business.

If you become an apprentice your efforts will be rewarded throughout the process, as you will receive a separate certificate for each qualification you achieve, as well as receiving a certificate once you have completed and achieved all aspects of your Apprenticeship programme. The learning provider will help to coordinate your Apprenticeship and develop skills and knowledge, while your employer provides the practical experience to put those skills to the test.

Apprenticeship levels explained

There are three levels of Apprenticeship available for those aged 16 and over:

  • Level 2 BTEC Intermediate Apprenticeships - These provide the skills you need for your chosen career and allow entry to an Advanced Apprenticeship.

  • Level 3 BTEC Advanced Apprenticeships - To start this Apprenticeship, you should ideally have five GCSEs (grade C or above) or have completed a Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship.

  • Level 4/5 BTEC Higher Apprenticeships - These Apprenticeships work towards qualifications such as NVQ Level 4 and, in some cases, a knowledge-based qualification such as a Higher National Certificate or Diploma.

Training can be classroom based, in a workshop or in a workplace, depending on the subject and on the learning provider.


Edexcel Apprenticeships Guide

Why Choose an Apprenticeship?

If you are considering enrolling on an apprenticeship, you may be wondering if this career path is a smart move for your future. Below, you can see the staggering increase in demand for plumbers through over a period of just three years, and see what a real-world plumber has to say about their path as an apprentice plumber.

Click the buttons to reveal the annual growth

Click the plumbers face to reveal a quote

"I'm with Apprenticeships because each day at work is different and there is no monotony in it. It's been hands on from day one and I enjoy learning by actually doing the job rather than just watching."

Stuart Gould - Apprentice, D-Drill (Master Drillers) Ltd

Career Progression

  • 01.

    Options for 14 year olds

    The path towards enrolling in an apprenticeship can start at just 14 years of age. Opting for a Foundation or Higher Diploma, GCSE or Foundations Learning Tier will stand you in good stead for the second stage of options upon leaving high school.

  • 02.

    Options for 16 year olds

    Upon completion of the first options, you can continue to progress into the role of an apprentice at this stage, or continue your education in plumbing or engineering at a vocational college without getting a work placement at this stage.

  • 03.

    Options for 18 year old

    If at this stage you choose to continue down the path of an apprenticeship, you can continue gathering training and qualifications as a post-18 apprentice and moving towards full-time employment.

  • 04.

    Fully Qualified

    Once fully qualified, the world is open to you. You may wish to take the plunge and start your own plumbing business, or reap the financial benefits of becoming a senior plumber or engineer at an established plumbing company.

Typical Career Path



£10,500 - £15,000


Newly Qualified

£16,500 - £21,000



£21,000 - £35,000



£0 - £45,000+

Gas Engineer


£10,500 - £15,000

Gas Engineer

Newly Qualified

£17,000 - £19,000

Gas Engineer


£21,000 - £30,000

Drainage Technician


£10,500 - £15,000

Drainage Technician

Newly Qualified

£17,000 - £22,000

Drainage Technician


£24,000 - £30,000

Drainage Civil Design Engineer


£34,000 - £42,000

Heating Engineer


£10,500 - £15,000

Heating Engineer

Newly Qualified

£17,000 - £22,000

Heating Engineer


£23,000 - £32,000


Click a plumber to read what they have to say about plumbing apprenticeships.

"I'm with Apprenticeships because it's more than a qualification, it's experience too which is more valuable."

Kyle Yeomans - Apprentice, Oaklands College

"I'm with Apprenticeships because when I finished school I had lost hope for my future, but this Apprenticeship has helped me gain a qualification and improve my skills, as well as my confidence. I applied to be Newham's Young Mayor and am now a member of the Youth Council."

Faheem Dharma - Apprentice, London Borough of Newham

"I'm with Apprenticeships because it's the ideal next step in my career. It's a great way to learn because you are working with different skilled people who can help you to build up your knowledge. It's the best decision I ever made as it's opened so many doors."

Anton Samy - Apprentice, John Doyle Construction Ltd

"I'm with Apprenticeships because I am really enjoying my time on the programme. In the nine months I have been an apprentice, I have gained an NVQ Level 2 and have massively developed my skills and knowledge. It has given me that vital stepping stone to achieve and succeed."

Holly Barratt - Apprentice, London Borough of Newham

Salary Potential

1 Year £18,000

2 Year £20,000

5 Year £25,000

10 Year £35,000

20 Year £50,000


National Insurance TBC

Do Apprenticeships Work


The results of two major Apprenticeship surveys were published on 14 May; these results showed that satisfaction amongst Apprenticeships is high. Almost nine in ten apprentices (89%) were satisfied, rising to 92% amongst completers.

Questions & Answers

Click question to reveal answer.

Am I eligible for an apprenticeship?

To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you must be living in England and not taking part in compulsory full-time education or not holding a university degree. Entry requirements are flexible because Apprenticeships are not just based on academic achievement. Employers value your enthusiasm for work and desire to learn, so your practical skills and interest in your chosen area are very important.

Are there different types of Apprenticeship?

Yes, there are different types of Apprenticeship available. Which Apprenticeship is right for you will depend on your experience and the opportunities in your area. However, all Apprenticeships include the following basic elements: an appropriate National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) at either Level 2 or Level 3, functional Skills qualifications, a technical certificate such as a BTEC or City & Guilds (included in most cases), other qualifications or requirements as specified by the particular occupation

How long does an Apprenticeship take?

Depending on the type and level of Apprenticeship, it will take somewhere between 1 and 4 years to complete. However, we average between 15 months & two years.

Do I get holidays?

Like any other employee, you will receive at least 20 days holiday per year (and bank holidays). Your individual entitlement will be detailed in your terms of employment or training agreement from your employer. Just like any other job, your employer will have rules about how far in advance holidays need to be booked, and times that holidays cannot be taken.

How can I find Plumbing Apprenticeship Opportunities?

To properly qualify for an apprenticeship, you must first have have secured an employment position (30 hours+ per week) with a relevant firm beforehand. Many training centres have strong connections with local plumbing firms and will help you secure the employment required to enter the course, so baring this mind, it might be a good idea to give your local college/training centre a call first when starting your job search.

What Tasks can I Expect to Carry out During a Plumbing Apprenticeship?

It will come as no surprise to you that an apprenticeship in plumbing is a very hand-on course, and there is no room for sitting around!

Tasks that you may be carrying out during work hours include: constructing pipe systems, pressurising systems, detecting leaks, costing jobs and negotiating contracts and solving dimensional problems with applied maths skills.

Will I be paid During an Apprenticeship?

The apprentice 'National Minimum Wage' applies to all 16 to 18 year olds and to those aged 19 and over in the first year of their Apprenticeship.

If you are 19 or over and have completed 1 full year of your Apprenticeship your employer must compensate you at least the 'full National Minimum Wage' for your age group.

What Types of Plumbing Apprenticeships Are There?

There are 2 levels of plumbing apprenticeship available in England & Wales:

Intermediate Level, aimed at career seekers who are completely new to the plumbing industry.

Advanced Level, aimed at those already with an NVQ level 2 qualification and practical experience.

What does being a Fully Qualified Plumber Entail?

Plumbers put in, look after and fix the plumbing inside and outside buildings. The exact job depends on the employer, though all plumbers have the skills and knowledge to get the job done properly and safely.

What Qualifications do I need to become a Fully Qualified Plumber?

EAL Plumbing (Domestic) NVQ Levels 2 & 3, City & Guilds 6129 Certificate in Domestic Plumbing, Studies Levels 2 & 3, Level 2 Application of Numbers and Level 2 Communication, Functional (Essential) skills and CORGI Gas ACS assessment

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Final Advice

Apprenticeships have so much to offer. By combining structured courses with workplace training and tutorship, learners can become a qualified tradesperson by the end of their apprenticeship. If you think a career in plumbing may be for you, you can begin your journey by applying for an apprenticeship through the Apprenticeships website.

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Helpful Links

Edexcel - Why Choose An Apprenticeship?

Edexcel - Career Progression

Edexcel - Next Steps

Apprenticeships - Benefits Of Apprenticeships

Not Going To Uni - Apprenticeships

Doncaster College - Appreticeships FAQ

The Manchester College - Apprenticeships

Kent Training And Appreticeships

Plumbing Apprenticeships UK

Apprenticeship Vacancy Matching Service

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