We often read in the press of the salaries that the Plumbing trade is achieving. It is this need for trained Plumbers that has led to salaries of 30-70k p.a. being advertised. So, is this the truth of the matter, or are we being lied to? To be certain, for the correctly qualified and experienced plumber, this level of salary is achievable and indeed attainable. Whilst salaries of 70-100k p.a. are possible, it remains chiefly for self employed people, rather than those working in the customary routes.
The normal working week is pretty standard for those who join an established company. Approximately wages of 15k and 30k p.a. are reasonable within the UK, along with standard benefits such as holiday pay and sickness allowance. A self-employed person can earn more money than this traditional approach, but will often need to work outside of the Mon- Fri, 9am to 6pm example. This is especially the case where self-employed plumbers have opted to work in the domestic market, where their clients are at work during the day – requiring evening and weekend visits.
Around which is the question of self employment which appears to fit some people. This can include getting to grips with advertising & marketing, getting your own cost-per-hour correct and the need to learn and use good ‘business’ sense. Furthermore, additional costs such as materials and transport, along with legal and accountancy fees will need to be paid. While these costs can mount up, so too do the benefits, however the costs should always remain a smaller part of the income generated. And the downsides are nearly always outweighed by the proceeds!
Without a doubt Student Entrants are looking for companies who can offer them regular employment and thereby teach them from experience. As quickly as possible the Self Employed Entrant needs to increase their list of accreditations that they will rely upon. In fairness it is the ‘domestic’ market rather than the commercial sector that attracts the majority of the self-employed workers in the UK. (Not all of them, but the main do!)
There does appear to be some union between certification relating to each path of Plumbing education and hence the industry. There is considerable divergence though when the issue of NVQ’s (SVQ’s in Scotland) comes into play.
At first, the Student Entrant does appear to depend much more on the NVQ structure than the Self Employed Entrant. The Self Employed Entrant will regularly employ a range of certifications in order to meet the needs of their client’s requirements from the beginning. In order to be able to meet the needs of the typical household, self-employed persons will need to rapidly gain key domestic-centred qualifications. It is within the workplace – where the NVQ element can be appraised that many Student Entrants carry on with their apprenticeship after having covered the key fundamentals through a college scheme. Considering that it is a cheaper way to study then the Student can make practical savings from the start. That said it is the ability to gain real financial rewards long before the Student Entrant that encourages many Self-Employed Entrants to gain certifications faster and be motivated by a stronger commercial attitude.
This shows the necessity of a clear careers discussion, covering the overall study and certification requirements alongside the required financial return. It would generate serious hardship, for example, for an adult requiring 20k p.a. (to provide for their family,) to go back to college and spend 3 years in low-paid apprenticeship work. Normally, self-employed students to pay for their courses themselves whereas the younger Student Entrants have the majority of their courses paid for them as part of their apprenticeships. These courses can run between 3k through to 10k+, depending upon the course and level of certification required and that is something that people need to consider.
Whilst the Self Employed Entrant can consider a wider range of education forms including private colleges the Student Entrant is limited to known further-education colleges. Commercially oriented plumbing course companies will provide an established path of training which ultimately leads into recognised skill-sets and qualifications. Of a key opportunity is the ability to train out of hours – evening, part time and self study classes that allows Self Employed Entrants to continue training whilst continuing with their job and maintaining their financial situation. Using the range of sources, it makes sense to gather as much detail as possible and through this be able to work out the training college that suits you best. We’ve provided links and adverts from several, so why not book-mark this page (CTRL-D) so you can come back later to review your options.
Plumbers ‘marketability’ is often increased through the use of additional courses. Key certificates in areas such as Gas, Green Energy and Electrical training can be provided by these courses. One of the most popular routes for Plumbers has always been Gas training, as this forms part of the typical domestic and commercial heating system.
Gas training in itself is a specific and rigorous training regime, with core subjects followed by an emphasis on NVQ’s. The opportunity for on-going training is for those who trained first as a plumber and are now seeking to add some extra skills to their repertoire. In review it is often felt that the mature student responds well to the blend of Gas/Plumbing training. It is by centring on these core elements and dropping the NVQ elements that the Mature Student appears to settle.
From this, the self-employed professional appears to suit the variable training schemes. The opportunity to learn a wider range of perceived skill-sets (whilst earning money from them) becomes the attraction. Instead of having to rely upon third parties to complete certain skill-sets, this adds to their commercial viability. Of equal concern is the lowering of customer value as they have to wait for essentials to be handled by others and the reduction of the overall earning potential that ensues from sub-contraction. To be fair the more talent a Plumber has in their own job then the more they have to offer their client base.
In consideration therefore the Self Employed Entrant has the chance to earn considerably more and at a realistically higher pace than the Student Entrants, to do so they do have to develop both the range of certifications that they hold and consider the business elements as well. Note: This information deals with industry requirements and policies for the UK market alone.