The traditional route once you’ve gained your industry recognised qualifications is to work as an apprentice with another plumber or maintenance company. It’s a route that Pimlico Plumbers’ Charlie Mullins took when he left school at the age of 15, and one that he still highly recommends today. “My apprenticeship lasted four years and by the time I’d finished it I’d already built up a small client base and was able to become self-employed straight away.”
The college where you do your industry qualifications can often help you find a placement with a local company, but there’s nothing stopping you getting in touch with other plumbing company’s yourself. It’s unlikely you’ll earn much during your apprenticeship but the experience you’ll gain working with fully qualified and seasoned plumbers will prove invaluable when you start your own venture.
Blane Judd of the CIPHE recommends at least 2-3 years working with an experienced plumber before you attempt your own venture. In fact, those wishing to join the organisation, even at the lowest level, need evidence of this length of service after completing their qualifications.
Judd explains: “It’s like when you pass your driving test, and the examiner hands you your certificate and says: ‘now’s when you really learn to drive’.”
The main idea to get your head around is that customers won’t accept trial and error when you’re working on their property. Your time at college won’t prepare you for all the situations you’re likely to encounter while actually on the job. And while even the most experienced of plumbers will sometimes find themselves in unfamiliar and pressured circumstances, learning the ropes while there’s someone else to guide you is always going to be preferable to throwing yourself in at the deep end straight away.