Vikki has completed over 150 TaskHer bookings, making her one of our most prolific tradeswomen. We chatted with Vikki to learn more about her journey as a female plumber and heating engineer.
Vikki had to leave her career as a chef in Essex when she moved home to care for her mother. She started going to work on building sites with her stepdad and enjoyed working in a familiar environment. ‘I didn’t get on very well at school,’ she says. When school was difficult, Vikki found her purpose working alongside her stepdad. She soon picked up the tricks of the trade and felt comfortable in the hands-on environment.
‘I was used to being around all the guys on the site, and I really enjoyed it.’
When it was time to get back to work, Vikki knew that she’d never return to her old career. Instead, she decided to keep working on construction sites. Then, her future branched out into two roads. ‘It came down to becoming an electrician or a plumber,’ she says. Plumbing was the quickest route for Vikki to earn a living, so she enrolled on a course straight away.
Vikki started college and sent out dozens of emails to local plumbers asking for the opportunity to undertake unpaid work. A professional plumber took her on, and she worked for him for six months. Towards the end of her college course, she started working for a company instead.
‘The company fired me because they said I’d never be able to lift a boiler onto a wall.’
The company fired Vikki just one month before she completed her Gas Safety certificate, which was a massive stumbling block. Luckily, the college she enrolled in was able to find another professional to sign off the last part of her course.
From then onward, Vikki juggled working full-time with gaining new qualifications in her spare time. Now, she’s a qualified plumbing and heating engineer. In recent years, she’s transitioned into self-employment. She travels all across London to complete domestic renovations, replacements, and installations. She even installs boilers, something that she was told she’d never be able to do.
She’s optimistic about the future for women in trades but is quick to say that it’s much easier to work as an independent female plumber and heating engineer than as part of a company. ‘Now that I’m self-employed, being a female plumber and heating engineer is more of a help than a hindrance,’ she says. ‘Customers choose you because you’re a female, and you gain respect for the skills that you have.’
‘The main problem is when you work for a company; you’re always trying to prove yourself and you’re always not quite good enough. Leaving to become self-employed was one of the best things I ever did.’
Vikki hopes to help other women in the industry through her female plumbing and heating engineers group, which has amassed over 250 participants. No other online spaces welcomed female plumbers and female heating engineers, so Vikki decided to make her own. ‘There are a few plumbing groups on Facebook that you can’t even post in,’ she says. ‘As soon as you post a question, the guys jump on it. I started a female plumbers group so that we could actually ask questions and get answers.’
Like all the professional plumbers that we work with, Vikki has all the qualifications she needs to install, repair, and maintain boilers and a number of other gas fittings. She works on domestic properties all over London.