UK Plumbing Qualifications Explained

You’ve decided to become a plumber, you know what course to do, now let us explain in more detail about the qualifications that you will need to become a fully qualified plumber.

In order to become a fully qualified plumber you will require an industry recognised qualification at NVQ level 2 or 3. The amount of experience you already have will determine what level you can start your training from.

To be a domestic Plumber the following qualifications are required:

  • Level 2/3 Diploma Plumbing and Heating
  • Level 2/3 Diploma Installing and Maintaining Domestic Heating Systems

The Level 2 qualification has been designed especially for people who are just entering the plumbing industry they will be provided with all the basic skills and experience that is required in the trade.

The level 2 mandatory units include:

  • Carry out and understand safe working practices in building services engineering
  • Understand and install hot water systems and maintenance in the home
  • Understand and install above ground drainage systems and maintenance techniques
  • Install domestic heating systems and maintenance

The Level 3 qualification is more suited to those who have already completed level 2 or for someone who has prior knowledge and experience of the plumbing industry and who can work with minimum supervision.

The level 3 Diploma has a range of options including hot and cold water systems, drainage, solar heating, oil and gas fired appliances and also water and recycling systems. It also covers the ACS safety assessment requirements, for the gas plumbing options. ACS assessment is needed in order to register with the Gas Safe Register which was formally known as CORGI, registering with the Gas Safe Register will greatly improve your chances of gaining potential jobs as customers are much more likely to get a plumber who is registered than one who isn’t to carry out work.

Industry recognised organisations agree that you should get a work placement soon after you start your training, doing it this way will enable you to complete your theory in your local college or training centre and put that theory into practice at your place of work, this will help greatly when completing your practical units in your Diploma.

How do you gain a Plumbing NVQ?

You will be awarded these qualifications while you’re working in the plumbing industry and they are accredited by industry awarding bodies including City and Guilds, EAL and BPEC. It’s fairly straightforward really what happens is an NVQ assessor will visit you when you’re on the job at your place of work and assess you as you carry out your tasks. If the assessor is happy with your work then you will gain your NVQ. If you don’t succeed on the first attempt don’t worry you can have the assessor back at another time to have another go at gaining your NVQ.

College and Training courses

Part time or full time college training courses will cover all the basic plumbing knowledge to get you ready for the plumbing industry including industry health and safety and will also gain you practical skills that will be required for on the job work. These courses will include:

  • Level 1 Certificate introduction to Plumbing
  • Level 2 Diploma in Access to Building Services Engineering
  • Level 2 Diploma in Plumbing Studies

These courses are your gateway to higher level qualifications they will help you with your chances of an apprenticeship and will also help greatly if you’re looking for a job as a trainee.

Achieving your qualifications and potential jobs you may carry out.

Once you become a fully qualified plumber you can carry out work in many areas within the plumbing industry including: Air conditioning, ventilation and heating, gas servicing refrigeration and bathroom and kitchen fitting and so much more.

If you successfully complete your training you’ll be able to install and maintain energy technologies which will include solar water heating pumps and ground source hat pumps. There are many exciting environmentally friendly technologies you can be a part of including: installing and designing low carbon systems which may involve harvesting rainwater, with new technologies being developed regularly and you could be a part of it.

Improving on your current qualifications if you’re already qualified

If you are a plumber and work with oil fired appliances or heating systems then it will benefit you greatly if you register with the Oil Firing Technical Association competent person scheme. The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) have many membership options which will help you with your development within the plumbing industry. The British Plumbers Employers Council (BPEC) offer training packages, including ACS assessment preparation and also practical business guides.

To improve your qualifications even further you could try and gain your Part P certificate from building regulations, gaining this certificate will prove to potential customers and employers that you are able to work safely with electrics, boosting your jobs potential even further. Some plumbing courses already include this in their training package.

As you can see plumbing really is an involved industry with exciting career opportunities and is highly rewarding. Hopefully we’ve included all the information you was looking for and maybe even a bit more so all that’s left to say is good luck with your training and hopefully one day you will be a fully qualified plumber, reaping the rewards of this very hands on industry.