Breaking into the industry
We often get asked about Apprenticeships and how people can get into the gas, heating and hot water industry. Unfortunately we are not currently in a position where we can support a full time apprentice (Although you will sometimes see one of our part time trainees and work experience students out and about on the area, getting some experience).
The industry can be incredibly tough and hard work to break into, but the rewards are very satisfying. Our best advice is to enter the industry through an Apprenticeship scheme, lots of larger companies do offer these schemes, but due to the costs involved in training someone up to become Gas Registered, spaces are often limited so we wanted to give some hints and tips that we’ve identified over the years.
For the under 25’s…
- Apply for apprenticeships annually; you may not get in on year 1, but you might on year 2, 3 or 4. People like British Gas recruit several times a year so always keep your CV fresh in their pile.
- Get yourself on a recognised college course to study the theory behind plumbing, heating, hot water and gas. You can follow this all the way through until completion or until you get accepted for an apprenticeship… And if your college does not have any spaces, try some of the associated courses within the engineering fields like electrical, mechanics or even physical sciences.
- Ensure your maths is up to standard – The gas industry requires a good level of mathematical appreciation and skill; top up your skills if needed through further education.
- If you get to the end of a college course and you’ve had no luck getting an apprenticeship, do not panic. Sit down and start writing them CV’s – Get them out to your local heating and hot water companies, you’ll be looking for an “Assistant” or “Mate’s” role… The money can be poor and the hours are arduous; but… Get in with a good company and you’ll reap the benefits within a few years.
- Go it alone – Be prepared to jump right into the deep end; ask family and friends if they want any work doing; be prepared to go “cheap” and let them know that you’re trying to build your experience. If you’re fair, open and honest with a good service or product, then the word will spread – Everyone needs a good plumber.
For the over 25’s…
You are a tough bunch, but you’re not past it yet and there is still time despite the funding hole for your training and development.
- We cannot stress it enough that people should be very careful with the so-called “become a plumber” training centres that offer 6+ week courses for incredible sums of money. Most of the time, you will not be armed with the knowledge you need, just a feeling of being robbed.
- Ideally you want to get some evening classes under your belt. Phone around your local higher education centres and look out for courses in plumbing and electrical engineering. If your maths is poor, get some refresher and booster training at the same time; especially if your ambition is to get into gas work; you’ll need the maths.
- Start tooling up, as you’re over 25, you’ll struggle to get funding to tool up and having your own tools will stand you in a good position against over candidates when it comes to touting for experience. Expect to lay out around a thousand pounds for a comprehensive, fair grade tool set.
- Get in some experience at home, plumb in your washing machine, replace your bath taps and change that radiator valve. When you start practising in your own home, you’ll begin to understand what may be needed of you in a clients home.
- Tout companies for “Mate’s” positions and “Assistants” – There are companies out there, especially the small ones that often need a hand and are happy to swap a hand for some training and experience. As positions come up, stay in contact and stick with the good guys, forget money and look at the quality of the job and what you’d make of someone if they were working in your home.
Of course, to become a plumber is relatively easy. It takes time, a lot of practice and some in-built human qualities like hand to eye co-ordination, customer service and organisation, but a lot of people have it in them. Once your a plumber, you’ll find it easier to make a transition into the gas world. This world is much more restrictive and legislative (Although plumbing is also heavily legislated for) and requires proven experience, specialist training and certification along with a large investment.