Plumbers in the NHS make sure that plumbing and heating systems are safe and in good working order.
This page has information on the role of a plumber in the NHS, including entry requirements and skills needed.
The NHS relies on water supplies, drainage and heating. They are all essential to keep hospitals and other NHS buildings safe and working efficiently.
As a plumber in the NHS, your work includes
- planned maintenance
- repairing equipment that is broken or faulty
- testing equipment and systems
- improvements and installations
Who will I work with?
While plumbers are working inside a building, staff and patients may be there, but they do not have direct contact with healthcare staff or patients.
Plumbers may work for building services contractors which are providing services to the NHS.
There are no set entry requirements but employers expect plumbers to have a qualification and experience in plumbing and/or heating and ventilation.
To train as a plumber, you usually need at least three GCSEs (or equivalent) including maths, English and science. Employers may ask for some experience in construction or other practical work. An apprenticeship in an estates support role can provide this.
Employers may ask for a driving licence.
Plumbers need to be
- interested in practical work and repairs
- able to follow technical instructions
- accurate and methodical
- health and safety aware
- willing to work at heights where necessary
- able to use tools
- good manual (hand) skills
- organisational skills
- time management skills
Training and development
When you start as a trainee plumber, your training will include
- health and safety
- how to use the tools and equipment
- all aspects of plumbing, drainage and heating work
You will be expected to study for qualifications such as NVQs. You may also be encouraged to become multi-skilled by training in, for example, painting and decorating or tiling.
Plumbers can join the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering and apply for chartered status.
- Pay and conditions Expand / Collapse
Estates staff working in the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change (AfC) pay system. As an estates support worker, you could start on AfC band 1 or 2. As a qualified plumber, you will typically start on AfC band 3. With further training and experience, you could apply for more senior positions at bands 4 and above.
Plumbers in the NHS work standard hours of around 37.5 a week. The job may involve shifts including early starts, evenings and weekends. Plumbers may be part of an on-call rota for emergency cover.
Terms and conditions will usually be different for plumbers working outside of the NHS.
- Where the role can lead Expand / Collapse
Once fully qualified and with experience, a plumber can become a team leader, supervising the work of others. With further experience you could progress to manager, responsible for maintenance and repair services in a hospital, area or trust.
There are opportunities outside the NHS.
Some plumbers become self-employed by setting up a business, either on their own or with one or more colleagues.
- Job market and vacancies Expand / Collapse
If you're applying for a role either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to show how you think the NHS values apply in your everyday work.
- Further information Expand / Collapse