Summary of occupation
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 protections systems like fire hydrants, hose reels and sprinkler systems. Plumbers can work anywhere around the state, from our cities and regional centres, to country towns and isolated communities.
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, plumbers can expect to earn between $1 000 and $1 249 per week ($52 000 and $64 999 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.
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.
To become a plumber you usually need to complete an apprenticeship. The plumbing and gasfitting apprenticeship usually takes 48 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.
You may improve your chances of gaining an apprenticeship by completing a pre-apprenticeship course.
To work as a plumber in Western Australia, you will need to obtain the appropriate Plumbing contractor’s or Tradesperson’s licence from the Plumbers Licensing Board.
Workers in the construction industry must undergo safety induction training and be issued with a Construction Induction Card (commonly known as a “white card”). In Western Australia, training is conducted by registered training organisations authorised by WorkSafe.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
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 of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.