March 6, 2023
Helping hopeful female plumbers achieve their career goals
If you’re practical, organised, and efficient, you might have just what it takes to become a plumber. Plumbing is by no means an easy career choice, but the rewards are immense. Many plumbers choose their own hours and hourly rates, which gives them the time and financial stability to focus on their families or other interests.
Whether you’re fresh out of high school or hoping to retrain, plumbing is an excellent career choice. That being said, the path to becoming a qualified plumber might look murky. There’s a lot of conflicting information out there.
What percent of plumbers are female?
A 2021 study conducted by Go Compare found that just 2% of plumbing and heating engineers are women. Another study from 2022 found that just ‘1% of tradespeople working in construction, including plumbers, carpenters, builders, and electricians are women’. There is some debate about the final figure, but regardless, the number is very low.
Despite this data, there is some positive news. In the same study that found that 1% of tradespeople are women, the CIOB discovered that a third of respondents would prefer a female tradesperson. Female plumbers might be up against overwhelming odds, but there is space for them in the trades sector.
There isn’t a straightforward answer to this question.
Each website states a different amount, with CheckaTrade saying that plumbers earn an average hourly wage of £13.90 per hour and Indeed claiming that plumbers earn an average hourly wage of £18.41 per hour. Respectively, these figures amount to £27,105 and £35,880, based on a working week of 37.5 hours.
Remember, these are the figures for plumbers in general, not female plumbers.
Location can also skew the numbers. Plumbers in London will earn far more than plumbers in the North of England.
Ultimately, there is no cap on your potential earnings. Self-employed plumbers can set their own rates. In an industry that is increasingly focused on flexibility and quick response times, becoming self-employed is a realistic option. Plumbers in London who take the leap to become self-employed can charge up to £90 an hour. Day rates range from £350 to £600, so annual salaries can top £75,000.
Unlike other trades like painting and decorating (which is the most popular trade by the percentage of women), plumbing requires certificates and training. It is classed as a mechanical trade, meaning there is a much steeper learning curve.
You can become a qualified female plumber in a few different ways, but none of them is without hard work.
You don’t need to take specific GCSEs to become a plumber. As long as you have five GCSEs, you’ll be able to apply for a lot of the internships that are on offer.
Don’t worry, lots of plumbers don’t have GCSEs. GCSEs aren’t the end of the world, but they can make the process a lot easier.
An apprenticeship gives you an opportunity to learn while you’re on the job. They are paid, but often at a lesser hourly wage than the standard. Apprenticeships can last for a few hours for a few days a week, or they can be full-time.
There are no set criteria that you need to fulfil to get a plumbing apprenticeship. That being said, hopeful female plumbers often have to complete a set number of classroom hours to be eligible to apply.
Here are the certificates that you might gain as part of your apprenticeship:
As of 2023, the minimum apprenticeship wage is £4.81. Apprenticeships are more suited to young people or people who don’t have big financial obligations.
It’s not uncommon for people to retrain in a skilled trade later in life. In this case, the hopeful plumber might already have family obligations as well as bills to pay.
Most people who come to plumbing later in life undertake a part-time course and gain work experience. We’ve listed a few beginner courses below, but you can find local training courses with a simple Google search.
To gain work experience, you can reach out to a local plumber and shadow them throughout their day. Remember, vocational courses come with in-built work experience.
Vocational education is education that is centred around skilled technical work.
You can pursue vocational education in any number of ways. Some people attend a trade school that has highly specialised, targeted courses that focus on their desired field. Others attend university and opt for technical degrees and modules.
Remember, you don’t need to go to university to become a plumber.
If you’re a hopeful female plumber in London, we’ve got a few tips for you. They are by no means exhaustive, but they offer some good stepping stones for women who want to enter the world of skilled trades.
Choice Training is one of the organisations that champion female plumbers. It has created a Choice Training Scholarship to support women who do not have the financial means to gain a qualification in plumbing. It is open to women of all ages and abilities.
Two women are given a scholarship every year. Students have to attend college two days per week for an entire academic year. At the end of the academic year, the students will be fully qualified plumbers.
Between June and July every year, women from all over England can apply for a scholarship. Bookmark the page and make a note in your diary!
Moira Tighe runs a DIY in-a-day plumbing course at The Goodlight Centre in London. It runs most Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm and costs £195. It is designed to help beginners learn the basics.
Over the course of the day, you will learn how to:
This course might not turn you into a qualified plumber overnight, but it will give you an insight into what your day-to-day tasks could look like.
Of course, if you want to go down the more traditional route, you can enrol in a college course.
Lewisham College actively supports women in trades, which makes it one of the top choices for individuals who want to pursue a plumbing qualification.
The Introduction to Plumbing Programme is a part-time evening course that lasts for 18 weeks. It is located at Deptford Bridge, which is right on the Jubilee Line. During the course, students will learn pipe cutting, bending, threading, and fitting. They will have access to high-quality materials which they can use to fix taps and replace radiators.
There are varying levels of funding options for different age groups. People who are between 16 and 18 can enrol for free, whereas people between the ages of 19 and 24 have to pay £362. For a full breakdown, have a look at the website.
Again, this course will not make you a fully qualified plumber, but it will give you the skills to perform everything from basic to advanced tasks.
Once you’ve completed your training, you can begin working as a plumber.
To start earning, sign up for TaskHer, the online platform that connects homeowners to skilled female plumbers in London. Once you are in the pool of available plumbers, you will receive a notification when relevant jobs become available. Accept a job and start your plumbing career!
Learn how TaskHer works here.
Many parents aren’t as excited to show off to their friends that their child is a plumber not a doctor. However, the reality paints a different picture...
Suelan Allison’s journey as a garden designer is a testament to the remarkable transformative influence of nature and design...
Find more articles