Are you a woman thinking about plumbing as a career? If so you’re in good company: 38% of women in the UK wish that they had learned a manual trade when they were younger.
It’s not too late to start or retrain – there really is no time limit. Here are some facts about the career, how to get started, and the experience of one woman who has set herself up as a female plumber.
Becoming a female plumber
“I used to look at people working in manual trades and think that I would love to do it. I liked the idea of construction but never saw women doing it, so didn’t think it was possible.
I started in retail at 16, because I thought that was the best of the few options available to me as a woman. After years in sales and retail positions, I ended up working for a media company, which I found quite boring because I prefer not to be sitting down all the time.
I saw an advert in the paper for a plumbing training course with a women’s group. Not only did I feel I could do it, I knew that the plumbing industry was crying out for people.
Plumbing is great because you can use your brain, while doing a physical job. I never get bored because I’m always learning and every day is different. I’m also more independent as my job is well-paid and financially secure. I much prefer my job to the ones my female friends have got, and I’ll always have this trade to fall back on.
Also, once you qualify, you can work for yourself, or train other people. For instance, you can work in a prison and help inmates gain useful skills, which I find is really rewarding.
If you’re thinking about a job in plumbing, I’d say go for it. Don’t be scared of what you think it will be like. A lot of men think it’s great and are very respectful.”
(The case study was first published on the Know Your Place web site.)
Demand for female plumbers
Only one percent of plumbers in the UK are female. But almost a third of women would prefer to hire a woman plumber to do work in their home, according to a survey of over 2,000 consumers by watersafe.
Safety is the main reason women want to hire female tradespeople. 37% say they would feel safer with a woman. In addition a good number feel they’d get a fairer deal from a woman, be less likely to be patronised and to get advice they could trust.
So there are lots of positives for women who are interested in carving out a career in plumbing. A large demand, combined with a tiny supply of female plumbers, suggests a pretty big gap in the market.
How much can you expect to earn?
If you take up a job as a plumber you can expect an average salary of £25,074 in the UK. For a newly qualified plumber the salary is around £15,000. Those with more experience and a specialism in heat and gas can earn in excess of £40,000.
Many plumbers choose to work on a self-employed basis. And with demand for plumbers expected to grow, as many foreign nationals leave the country following Brexit, there is scope for much larger earnings. One recent press article profiles a plumber who earns more than £200,000 a year. Depending on where you are based and the hours you are prepared to work, that is not impossible. It’s certainly a sign that with the right experience and motivation you can make a very good living as a self-employed plumber.
Getting started in plumbing
A good place to start is your local Further Education College. Most will run courses in plumbing and be able to put you in touch with apprenticeship schemes.