Heating systems and water supply is crucial for a successful NHS. Plumbers in the NHS make sure these are safe and in good working order.

Working life

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?

You'll often work alongside other estates services staff such as electricians, carpenters and bricklayers. You may travel between sites in an NHS vehicle or your own van.

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.

Entry requirements

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.

Skills needed

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.

Other roles that may interest you

Make a comment or report a problem with this page

Help us improve

This form is for you to tell us about something that could be improved about the website or if there's anything wrong, incorrect or inaccurate with what you see. 

If you have a query about a career in the NHS, please visit our contact us page and call or email us.