We often read in the press of the salaries that the Plumbing trade is achieving. Figures of 30-70k p.a. are touted, alongside much talk of the profound shortage in the number of Plumbers within the UK. So, is this the truth of the matter, or are we being lied to? To be fair, this wage level is reasonable for the correctly qualified and experienced Plumber. To be fair, the higher earnings of 70-100k p.a. are generally for those working within the self-employed field.
It is fairly usual to expect working hours of 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday with a reputable employer. Indeed salaries of between 15k and 30k p.a. form part of what is expected from employed status in this area, along with the added reward of holiday pay and sickness allowance. However, if the self employed person is willing to work longer than the normal working hours then more money can be earned. This is more common in the domestic market where self employed plumbers often have to work evenings and weekends to suit those clients that work during the week.
There is also the issue of self-employment itself – which definitely suits some people more than it suits others. Finally there is good ‘business sense’, such as getting the hourly rate correct, advertising and marketing budgets spot on which are all important. Likewise self-employed people need to consider the implications of costs relating to materials and transport as well as legal and accountancy fees etc. Whilst it is expected that the benefits will be high, the costs can mount up though they should always remain a small part of the income overall. And the positives virtually always beat the downsides!
Student Entrants are generally looking for regular employment with a particular employer who can cover most of their working needs and teach them from experience. The Self Employed Entrant on the other hand will need to widen their list of plumbing accreditations and certifications as quickly as possible. To be fair it is the ‘domestic’ market which appeals to a large number of self-employed plumbers and not necessarily that of the commercial sector. (Whilst not everyone does the majority do!)
With reference to education in Plumbing, there is a likeness needed by each part of the industry in relation to the certification elements. Without a doubt the issue of NVQ’s (SVQ’s in Scotland) raises a constant concern as to the way forward.
At first, the Student Entrant does appear to depend much more on the NVQ structure than the Self Employed Entrant. By calling upon a wider range of qualifications Self Employed Entrants will be able to meet their clients’ needs from the start. Certainly, the self-employed person needs to rapidly gain the key domestic-centred qualifications that will satisfy their typical household-based clients. Having covered off the key elements of training within the college, the Student Entrant usually then enters the apprenticeship stage within the workplace – where the NVQ element can be assessed. As it is cheaper form of study overall then the Student Entrant can make financial savings from the beginning. Nevertheless by taking a more commercial viewpoint and gaining qualifications faster than the Student Entrant, many Self Employed Entrants gain greater financial rewards and within a shorter space of time.
Clearly this illustrates the need for a careers discussion that covers certifications and study alongside those of financial returns. It is often the issue of 3 years in low-paid apprenticeship work, alongside going back to college that many adults having to look after their family and with say 20kp.a requirements find difficult. 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. For self-employed people these costs are set by the course structure and the level of certification sought and can end up between 3k-10k+.
For the most part the private colleges are the domain of the Self Employed Entrant whereas the Student Entrant is required to study at recognised 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. Considering so many options on hand it is clever to gather data from as many sources as one can. Why not book mark this page (CTRL-D) and then you can come back and review your options from the links and adverts we have provided for you.
Many plumbing students will increase their ‘marketability’ through the use of further courses. Indeed it is through the added training provided that certification in areas such as Gas, Green Energy and Electrical can be gained. 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 is considered a dedicated training program with key subjects followed by important NVQ’s. For those who trained as a plumber first and are now looking at extra skills this also offers many options for their on-going development. 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.
It is from this particular training program that the self-employed professional gains ground. Without a doubt the appeal is to learn a greater range of skill-sets and at the same time earn money from them. This further enhances their commercial offering, instead of sub-contracting key skills to a third party. 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 have a higher value within their client base a Plumber needs to consider their relative skill sets that they offer.
It is by working at their broader range of certifications alongside business skills that Self Employed Entrants can achieve much higher income streams that their Student Entrant counterparts. Note: The above information is solely relative to the UK market, industry requirements and policies.