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A plumber specialises in the installation and repair of pipes that carry gas, wastewater, sewage. The trade can cover so many different types of work, from fixing a leaky tap to being a part of a new building construction project and deciding where pipes should be laid.

A plumber may perform the following tasks:

  • Evaluate building codes and blueprints
  • Prepare material and equipment needs and plan installation around possible problem areas, such as electrical wiring
  • Prepare written work estimates and discuss contracts
  • Repair and maintain plumbing, replace or mend broken pipes and open clogged drains
  • Install oxygen and medical gas in hospitals
  • Install pipes, valves, fittings, appliances and fixtures
  • Install piping systems
  • Identify and locate leaks

Often as a plumber you will need the help of someone from another profession; for example, an electrician when it comes to dealing with wires and other electrical matters.  So it is always handy to have connections, especially if becoming a freelancer in this field.

Qualifications needed to become a plumber

With a trade such as plumbing, going down the apprenticeship route is the most common and practical way of gaining both the qualifications and the experience needed for skill-based trades.  They normally last four years and your time will be spent between your local training college and out on the job working with an experienced plumber.

Manual and technical skills are important in this sector, and maths, IT and science are often relevant.  For the majority of apprenticeships, applicants (in England and Wales) should have GCSE grades A-C in Maths, English Language or Literature and a science resistant materials technology or equivalent to GCSE or GNVQ intermediate

For help and information on plumbing apprenticeships take a look at:

  • Building Engineering Services Training (BEST) – A leading UK training provider for the Building Services Engineering sector.  BEST matches apprentices with suitable employers and vice versa, acting as a mediator between learner, employer and college.
  • JTL – A training provider to the building services engineering sector.  JTL organises off-the-job training, monitors all on-site training and ensures apprentices are in a safe-working environment etc.
  • Options skills – Provides professional plumbing courses for all levels including courses designed for existing trades people looking to develop their skill set.

The benefits of being a self employed plumber

There are many benefits to freelancing and being a self employed plumber, for example, by freelancing for one or more clients at a time you can often have more income than you would expect from a full time salary.  You can use our Freelancer Calculator to work out exactly how much you could potentially take home as a sole trader.  There is also the fact that you will be your own boss, meaning flexible hours to suit yourself as well as the freedom to work when you choose, where you choose and for however long you like.

Finding work as Plumber

A strong client base is vital for both building and sustaining an excellent reputation when it comes to having a successful freelance career.

Advertising your business through a website, business cards and door-to-door flyers will all help towards building a wider range of clients.  Self promotion is a fantastic way of getting your name out there and attracting new clients.

Here are some suggestions on how to market yourself:

  • Social networking sites such as Twitter, Linked In and Facebook are an effective and free way of advertising your business.  For example, Setting up a separate account for your business with links from your personal page may generate more posts as well as making potential or existing clients aware of any promotions etc.  Also, Linked In is designed specifically for businesses and professionals to create a network of co-workers and other associates.
  • Advertise your business through free directory websites such as Yellow Pages or FreeIndex. This ensures many people actively looking for your trade can easily find you.
  • Set up a professional website.  The website needs to be information rich about the services you offer, a price list, the areas you cover and contact details. Using a website builder such as Weebly or DIY Site Builder can make it both simple and quicker.
  • Give out business cards to friends and family.  This way they can hand them out to their friends; knowing that they know you personally will perhaps make them have more trust in you and your business.

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