How Much is a Plumber Salary in the UK?

- by Becky Hall

The average annual salary for a plumber employed on a salary basis in the UK is £31,703. For plumbers employed on an hourly wage, the average hourly wage is £13.90.

Average Plumber Pay
Average hourly plumber wageAverage annual plumber salary
UK average£13.90£31,703
Plumber in Birmingham£13.56£30,940
Plumber in Bristol£13.25£30,218
Plumber in Cardiff£13.03£29,737
Plumber in Edinburgh£13.61£31,041
Plumber in Glasgow£13.55£30,900
Plumber in Leeds£13.27£30,258
Plumber in London£15.04£34,311
Plumber in Manchester£13.84£31,562
Different jobs and their salaries – Chapter 4

Thinking of becoming a plumber? According to, Britain’s plumbers are the happiest professionals in the country! It may just be the job for you. As a short term loan lender, Cashfloat have researched different jobs and their salaries. In this article you will learn about how you can become a plumber, what it’s like working as one and how much you can expect to earn.

Chapter 4 - Working as a plumber - Cashfloat

The amount of money that plumbers earn varies a lot and earning figures are only available for plumbers who are in employment. Well qualified and well experienced, self employed plumbers with a good reputation can earn a lot of money and often earn over £40,000 per year.

New entrants to the industry and plumbers with limited experience usually have to work in an employed job. Often in their first few years of work, plumbers earn a lot less than the national average.

The annual salary of a plumber, if you include those in employed jobs and those who are self employed, can vary as much as from £15,000 to £60,000.

When it comes to underpayment, it is generally new entrants and those with limited experience who suffer. However, self employed plumbers do also struggle sometimes, particularly in their first few years or business.

How can Cashfloat help those on a plumber salary?

Are you working as a plumber and struggling to pay your bills or do you need some money for an emergency that has just cropped up? Cashfloat offer payday loans up to £1000, small personal loans up to £2500 or small business loans up to £200,000. These loans are designed to help people even with a bad credit score in emergencies when they need money fast.

If you are starting to work as a self employed plumber, you will need some everyday plumbing tools & essentials to start off with, like:

  • Pipe Wrench
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Faucet Key
  • Hacksaw
  • Tube and Plastic Pipe Cutters
  • Plumber’s Torch
  • Pliers
  • Clearing Clogs
  • Plungers
  • Snake Machine
  • Safety gear

All these tools can be quite expensive if you have not budgeted for them. Taking out a loan to finance your startup equipment is not ideal, but it can give you the jump-start you need. Did you know that government provides business startup loans? Find out more about those here. If you’re not eligible for one of these, we’re a leading unsecured loans provider and most of our loans can be in your bank account within an hour of being approved. Learn more about our different loans:

How to Become a Plumber

Training to become a plumber usually takes around 4 years. To become a professionally qualified plumber in the UK, you should:

  • Obtain an NVQ Diploma (at least levels 2 in plumbing and domestic heating. Many complete level 3 as well).
  • Obtain work experience in an appropriate work placement
  • To work with gas in the UK, a plumber must be on the Gas Safe Register

Plumbers do not actually need any formal qualifications to start work as a plumber, unless they are working with gas. That said, the vast majority of plumbers complete lengthy work experience under supervision and obtain an NVQ before working independently.

To work as a plumber, an aptitude for maths, science, and technology is essential. Some entrants to the profession start by attending a plumbing skills course at their local technical college. Others will start by doing an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships for plumbers tend to be hard to find, as a lot of plumbing companies are ‘one-man bands’. Often sole-trader plumbers cannot afford to take on and pay an apprentice, even if the pay for those under 18 or in their first year is only £3.30 per hour.

Those who are lucky enough to find an apprenticeship usually work at least 30 hours a week under the supervision of an experienced plumber. One day a week they attend a local college to consolidate their practical learning with theoretical learning. Plumbing apprenticeships can take up to 4 years. Normally apprentices complete an NVQ during their apprenticeship.

Britains plumbers are the happiest professionals in the country! - Cashfloat

What Qualifications are there for Plumbers?

City & Guilds provide the normal vocational qualifications obtained by plumbers. It is possible, however, to obtain qualifications from other training providers, such as BPEC (British Plumbing Employers Council) and EAL. Basic qualifications, which allow someone to work, are normally called level 2 or 3 awards.
Although some companies, such as WaterSafe (How to Join WaterSafe) accept level 2 qualifications, it is recommended that a plumber should achieve Level 3 to be fully competent. Plumbers are also expected to have an understanding of both water and building regulations. This is because they may be required to install plumbing in new properties and so they come under the category of BSE (Building Service Engineering). On top of this, plumbers will often need to have knowledge of procedures, such as working at height and working in confined spaces.

What are the Working Hours of a Plumber?

It is estimated that most plumbers work 37-40 hours a week. However, the self-employed often find that their working hours are much longer. Even though installations and repairs might be done in a traditional working week, plumbers are sometimes ‘on call’ for emergencies so they may be called out at night or during the weekend. These jobs are charged by the hour and prices for the customer usually begin at £40 per hour.

What is the Plumbers’ Competent Persons Scheme?

The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) is a trade association representing 1,500 businesses. It employs 60,000 specialist engineers from large companies to sole tradespeople. If plumbers meet the approval requirements, they can be added to a Competent Persons Scheme. It offers the standard registration as well as a separate register for Green Deals and Microgeneration Certification.
WaterSafe is the umbrella body for organisations such as the APHC and the CIPHE (Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating). It provides plumbers with recognition of their professional status as well as an online search facility for them to reach more customers. Customers themselves are offered an assurance scheme and a procedure for complaints against WaterSafe-approved plumbers.

Watch this video and listen to Allen Hart as he answers questions on whether to become a plumber.

Self-employment for Plumbers

There are many plumbing and heating engineers registered in the UK. There are 130,000 heating engineers registered with Gas Safe alone (Heating engineers, skills and heat decarbonisation | UKERC | The UK Energy Research Centre).

A proportion of them are self-employed. Plumbing is seen as a relatively uncomplicated profession for the self-employed; there is no need to rent property since jobs are done on-site, in domestic or commercial properties. Despite the fact that it is relatively easy to start working independently as a plumber, professional organisations urge caution and say plumbers should have a Level 3 qualification and at least 3-5 years of experience before they attempt to go it alone.

Which Organisations Should a Plumber Register With?

Like any other small business owner, plumbers should register with HMRC, pay NI and ensure they have liability insurance (in case of claims from customers). They should also register with the CIPHE and HMRC’s Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) if they are planning to receive payments from the construction industry. Seeing as many plumbers will already have purchased the necessary tools over their years of work, the biggest expense before starting up is usually to buy a van.

Self-employed plumbers should be careful of how they budget since a cash flow problem can make it difficult to continue their business. The self employed plumber salary is obviously only what you get paid for and that depends on how much work you can do. Initially, they might have to rely on word-of-mouth recommendations before they build up a customer base. Many small businesses fail in the first year of operation so plumbers must be sure there is a market for their skills. The financial rewards might be higher, but there is always the insecurity of not knowing how much they will make each month. They must expect much longer hours too since as well as the plumbing jobs themselves, they will have to give job quotations and do their own paperwork.

Conclusion – Is the plumber salary sufficient?

There is sufficient business for most plumbers to be able to earn a living wage. One of the groups most likely to require the helping hand of a payday loan company are the apprentices and those who have just learned their trade. However, as they progress, their salary should become enough to meet their daily expenses.

The other group which is less financially insecure are self-employed plumbers, especially in their first year of business when they can’t always count on referrals to increase custom. Unlike other skilled workers like car mechanics, they are fortunate in that their trade does not require them to rent premises and pay for expensive pieces of machinery. Their most costly purchase is often a van.

Any business is vulnerable in its first year, and this is when plumbers are most likely to ask lenders providing payday loans for help. However, once they have weathered this period, increasing custom will provide a steady income and be more than enough to pay their expenses. Cashfloat is happy to provide emergency loans to plumbers who need to overcome a temporary money problem.

Do you need a payday loan despite your profession? Consider a Cashfloat loan.
Do you need a payday loan despite your profession? Consider a Cashfloat loan.
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About The Author
Becky Hall
Becky transitioned from accounting to financial blogging unexpectedly after earning a first-class degree in Business and Accounting. Initially a freelance bookkeeper, Becky’s exposure to frequent cash flow issues among clients sparked her interest in financial education.
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