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So you want to be a Plumber ?

So you want to be a plumber ?


Plumbers assemble, install and repair water supply, gas, drainage, sewerage, ventilation and heating systems in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. They lay pipes and install sanitary services such as showers, sinks, baths and toilets, as well as the fixtures that enable their use. They also undertake maintenance work as part of routine servicing and emergency repairs. They may also install water-based fire protection systems like fire hydrants, hose reels and sprinkler systems. Plumbers can find work anywhere around the world !

As a plumber you would need:

To be good with your hands,
The ability to work in confined spaces,
Organisational skills,
Problem solving skills,
The ability to work on detailed and intricate projects,
To be able to work at heights,

Working environment & Salaries

Plumbers may work either indoors or outdoors, on projects that range from household repairs to large-scale industrial installations. Their work may be dirty and unsanitary, and they may get dirty themselves. They usually work regular business hours, although some plumbers may be on call 24 hours a day to attend to emergencies.

On average, in South Africa plumbers can expect to earn an average salary of R 117,588 per year, depending on the organisation they work for, and their level of experience.

Many plumbers are self-employed and / or work as part of a team as an individual sub-contractor. Earnings for sub-contractors or small business operators will depend on their level of skill and experience, the level of demand for their services, as well as the amount of work completed.

Tools & Technologies

Plumbers use a number of tools in their daily work, such as wrenches, spanners, saws, cutters and drills. They cut, bend, join and fix materials such as lead, copper, aluminium, plastic, zinc and iron. They use welding equipment for joining pipes and drainage machinery to clear drains, and may also use electrical equipment such as pipe-threading machines. They are often required to wear safety equipment such as steel-capped boots, earmuffs, safety glasses and overalls.

Education & Training

To become a plumber you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. Generally speaking you should allow two years for your training. This applies to both apprenticeships and to learnerships. In each case there will be a number of units or areas in which a would-be plumber would be expected to be proficient and knowledgeable. In each case they will be tested to ensure they are able to perform to the high standards demanded of plumbers.

There is another way into the profession as well. This involves you working as an assistant to a plumber over a period of time. This is a good hands-on way to learn the ropes from a qualified plumber, so you can gain on-site experience that you can use to pass the required tests later on. This will still take time to achieve, and you will still need to pass the trade test successfully in order to be deemed to be a qualified plumber. But it is another way into the profession that might prove useful if you already have experience and you need the qualification.

There are quite a few colleges / training centers who do offer Plumbing courses, but please do your homework first and be sure that they are accredited by relevant authorised industry organisations such as CETA – http://www.ceta.org.za.

Plumber Apprenticeships & Learnerships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

The advantage of applying for an apprenticeship or learnership is that you can get paid while you learn and work!


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