I work in a property maintenance company actually, when I was doing some handyman jobs, but I really need to upgrade myself, so that’s why I’m doing the electrical course.
I was doing some small leaks and small repairs in normal houses actually, but I can’t do work electrical work because I’m not qualified, which has made my take on this course with Train4TradeSkills again. Once I’ve completed my new training, I can take on more work for the property maintenance company.
During the summer holiday time, as I obviously get six weeks off in the summer, I’ve been working alongside a couple of plumbers, sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid work, just to gain experience and learn from people on-site as well as within the training centres in Southampton.
Can you tell us a bit about how you managed to get that experience with the plumbers?
I’m quite lucky as my father-in-law is an architect, he has a few contacts with the tradespeople and he managed to give me the name of a plumber, a couple of plumbers, and I’ve just asked them if he would mind me coming along. Some have declined, but some were helpful enough to say, yeah just come along. I spent a week or a couple of weeks at a time with each plumber, a lot of it was unpaid but it was valuable experience for myself.
I arranged some work experience with a local plumber in Rhyl called Chris Bereton. I got in touch with Chris through yell.com. A few other plumbers declined the chance for me to gain work experience, but Chris agreed and I every Thursday and Friday for three months I got some work experience in plumbing.
While on work experience, I helped him with renovations and installing facilities in brand new homes, such as pipework in the kitchen, installing radiators, showers and boilers in the homes.
I found the experience extremely useful, as it allowed me to see and practice what I was learning in the theory part of the course. I learnt a lot and asked plenty of questions.
Chris was very impressed with what I was doing and said he would have trained me up himself if I wasn’t already training to be a plumber.
I’ve been an electrician for 20 years and have previously worked for a previous small contractor firm and some big industrial firm like Sky, EDF and Virgin energy.
I would definitely tell people it’s a good field to get into because the working industry in the world right now needs engineers and electricians. The jobs are very demanding, and you have to put in that perseverance and be dedicated to your task, to be a successful electrician.
I started my plumbing course in June 2010, since starting the course I have worked for a company that does all building works. I have been mainly working with the other plumber they have.
T4TS has given me the knowledge to install six full bathroom suites in six different flats, on my own, and am now sent out alone to do small maintenance jobs for the company.
I also managed to get a private job for myself fitting a new bathroom for a friend of a friend, since then I found out they own a line of properties and have got me in to fit new bathrooms in 2 of them and have asked me to do another next month.
Ben works as an apprentice plumber and says:
The time had come to service the 9 boilers in a block of flats for a regular customer. Under the supervision of a qualified gas safe engineer I got underway with servicing the boilers of which 8 passed and gained their landlord certificates.
There was one which the tenant was having problems with the 1st problem was that the pressure had dropped easy fix re pressurise the boiler check that the blow off was dry and PRV and re pressurise expansion vessel.
I fixed the boilers and the customer was very happy to be able to have a shower after three days of no hot water. One thing I would say to everyone even experienced plumbers never assume that a problem on one boiler will be the same on the other because as I have found out it sometimes is not!
I’ve started my own little part-time business working for a couple of landlords and a builder, just working with another plumber onsite doing bathrooms and one-off emergency callouts, that sort of thing, to start with. And it’s just sort of grown from there.
So I know once I’ve finished my course that I’ve got some work to actually start, bathrooms and other bits and pieces, and after that I’m going to be trying to do my gas as well, because landlords certificates I’ve been asked to do recently by the landlords that I’ve done the bathrooms for, so there’s definitely going to be work in the pipeline for me as well, so it’s definitely worth carrying on and progressing further.
Can you tell us a bit about how you got that experience then – did you approach those landlords? How did it work?
Basically what I did to begin with is I started the course and because we rent a place anyway, I went to see the landlord and said to him I was doing a plumbing course and if he had some small jobs come up, give us a look because I’d like to get myself up and running. And within a few days he began piling quite a bit of work on me and he was happy with the results, and he told other people and it’s just sort of gone from there really.
Yes, I’ve actually got an apprenticeship, so I work alongside a plumbing and heating engineer five days a week, so I get a lot of experience out on-site as well.
Would you be able to tell us a bit about how you got that plumbing apprenticeship?
With my job before I worked in a merchant so I knew a lot of plumbers that were coming in and out of the shop and I went round asking people that I got to know and it took me a while and eventually someone said to me I am looking for an apprentice now and it went from there.
I have, and now I’ve been doing my own bits at home and some bits with a plumber I know. So I’m hoping to work with him at a later stage. My thing is I wanted to learn rather than just be shown how to do stuff. I wanted to learn why things have to be done in a particular way.
Yeah, I’ve managed to find a job as a trainee electrician and I work for a company that is mainly an electrical contractors, but they do a bit of building and that, as well. So I help them with the building, which is what I know, and they help me with the electrical side.
I’ve recently got a new job, which is fitting solar panels. I told them about my plan and the course that I’m on and they said as soon as I get to the relevant level in my electrician’s course, as soon as a position becomes available, I can move across to that. Which is absolutely superb and exactly what I’m looking for.
“I now run my own successful Plumbing & Heating Business, RT Plumbing & Heating, which turned over in excess of £75,000.”
Prior to starting his Plumbing course at Train4TradeSkills ATL, Rob had been working in the aircraft aviation fuel industry for many years. But he wanted more than that. An influencing factor in his decision to spend his hard earned money on this course was his ambition to set up his own business and take control of his own destiny and career.
“I now run my own successful plumbing and heating business, RT Plumbing & Heating, which turned over in excess of £75,000. I drew a good salary and left more than enough working capital to expand my business and pursue further opportunities.”
Rob has subsequently gone on to achieve his Oil qualifications and is now OFTEC registered and he is close to becoming Gas Safe registered.
“I never take home less than £1,200 per week”
Mark was working as a general labourer when he decided to undertake a blended learning plumbing course at the T4TS training centre, Apprenticeship Training Limited. Mark had always been interested in plumbing and had dabbled a bit in the past. Like many adult career changers Mark decided to retrain as a plumber to improve his standard of living and take control of his destiny.
Mark has achieved his ambition. He recently set up his own partnership plumbing business and has gone on to achieve CORGI registration with ongoing heating system installation contracts. “I never take home less than £1,200 per week!” says Mark.
“Although my wages were low to start with, I now earn £30,000-35,000 a year with a van provided too.”
Gareth was working as a roofing contractor when he decided to undertake a blended learning plumbing course. Gareth said, “roofing was often cold and wet and as I was not getting any younger I decided it was time to retrain. Being a practical ‘hands on’ guy, I decided plumbing was the career I wanted.
Shortly after finishing his course Gareth was able to secure employment with a local plumbing company. Gareth said, “Although my wages were low to start with, I now earn £30,000-35,000 a year with a van provided too.”
Gareth is now looking to add gas to his portfolio and get on the Gas Safe register, which he will be returning to do at Train4TradeSkills ATL.
“Hoping to clear £20,000 from my business in its first year, I actually managed to clear £30,000 and I was delighted!”
“Before deciding to retrain as a plumber, I was working in an office earning £23,000 a year. Feeling that I had reached my earning ceiling in the office environment and being a practical sort of guy, enjoying working with my hands doing DIY etc., I thought I might be able to do better as a self-employed plumber.”
“I went self-employed as soon as I had completed my training. Hoping to clear £20,000 from my business in its first year, I actually managed to clear £30,000 and I was delighted! I am always very busy and I am looking forward to the future.”
“I was tired of my double glazing job and when I found out about the shortage of plumbers in the UK I decided it was time for a change.”
Since his first week at Train4TradeSkills ATL, he has never looked back. “I carried on working and earning in double glazing whilst I studied at home and used my holidays to attend my practical training at ATL in one week blocks.”
As soon as he finished his training, Paul went self employed to get some experience, working on kitchen and bathroom installations. This helped him get a job with a respected plumbing group where he is now earning a basic salary of £26,000 a year, plus benefits on top.
What’s next for Paul? “Subject to my employer allowing me the time I will be returning to the training centre to take my defined scope Part P electrical qualification.”
“I had no previous plumbing experience but thought I would give it a go.”
Having finished his training Andrew went straight into employment as a plumber and has now set up his own business. After just 2 months of trading he says he’s earning about £2,000 a month, but couldn’t spare the time for a longer chat as he’s on his way to another job!
“I was having major refurbishment work done on my house, and found out that the plumbing work would cost me six to ten thousand pounds, so I got thinking and realized that if I was to spend six thousand pounds on the course I could do the work myself.”
“I was having major refurbishment work done on my house, and found out that the plumbing work would cost me six to ten thousand pounds, so I got thinking and realized that if I was to spend six thousand pounds on the course I could do the work myself. This meant I would be saving money and with my experience I could get myself a trade at the same time.”
“The course gave me the confidence to go into peoples’ homes and confidentially carry out the work. As soon as I’d finished the course I started advertising for work and began getting little jobs here and there. I started out by earning about £100 per day and said to myself that it was realistic to expect a £20,000 per annum salary. After completing my third week of training I applied for work with the Council through an agency and they took me on.”
“I am now earning £30,000 working Monday to Friday 8am until 4pm, and I can earn another £100-500 per week doing private work. I could easily increase this to £1000 per week if I was prepared to put the extra hours in, but it’s not all about money. I have just installed my first unvented hot water cylinder and I am amazed at how quickly I have progressed.”
“I still work as a Nurse, but do a couple of days a week as a plumber. I am earning an extra £800 a month on top of my nursing salary.”
“I have now completed my training at Train4TradeSkills ATL, but I still work as a Nurse and do a couple of days a week as a plumber. I am earning an extra £800 a month on top of my nursing salary doing plumbing work mostly for female customers.”
“I was fed up with my job as a Bakery Manager, getting up before the larks. I wanted to find a better way to bring in the dough and be my own boss, so I decided to retrain as a plumber.”
He now says he couldn’t be happier. He’s set up as a self employed plumber and he’s already taking out £25,000 per annum for himself and his business is building month by month. He has linked in with 2 local building firms as well as building his own personal client base. Paul said “My customers are so delighted with my skills that I am now in the enviable position to benefit from business by recommendation.”
“Thanks to my training I was able to set myself up as a self-employed plumber and now I am sub-contracting for a local firm.”
Ex Fork Lift driver, Byron always enjoyed hands on work and wanted a change. His dad suggested plumbing and as he has friends who are plumbers too he decided to give it a go and enrolled on a blended learning plumbing course.
Although he started out earning less than he was as a fork lift driver, after just 6 months as he gained experience and was able to take on more work he is now earning double what he used to earn.
Relating his training experience, Byron says “I’ve never come across such a good course and the tutors are brilliant, they made the course easy and fun and I have never looked back.”
I saw an advert on the Internet about becoming a plumber and I sent an email to find out a bit more about it and let them know I was interested in it. I was phoned back within a few days and they sent someone round to give me all the information. I was really happy with everything I had heard and decided to sign up
It’s a very good course, the books they provide are great and the theory work is easy to understand. I really like the fact that I can do it at my own pace as and when I have the time. I’m almost at the stage to start working with the virtual reality software which should be interesting.
I’m thinking that I will try and get a job with a plumber once I’ve finished the course to try and get some experience in the field. Hopefully once I’ve done that for a year or two I would like to set out on my own and set up my own plumbing business.
Anne Ruko – Luton
I am more than happy with my studies at present and I think I’m learning quickly. I’m currently a full time duty manager at a local pub and chose to study a plumbing course because I’ve always shown an interest – my Dad is a full time plumber and that’s what inspired me to start.
I Chose T4TS after doing some online research and was given a call after registering my interest on the website. When the course advisor came to visit him and discuss the course in depth I was happy with the options offered.
I’m highly interested in learning about all the different aspects involved with plumbing and I’m looking forward to doing the practical. The virtual reality house Oliver is really good because it gives you a chance to do things that you wouldn’t be able to just go out and do in the real world at this stage. I want to make plumbing my full time career.
Oliver Clark – Rochester
My husband and I want to do this together and start our own business. We actually looked at different things and this seemed to be the best for us because we could do it in our own time. It wasn’t something that needed to be done within a couple of months, I’ve just had a baby and it’s something I can do at home and work around. I’m quite a practical person, so training as a plumber really appealed. We try to live in an eco-friendly way, so once we’ve qualified we hope to set up a business together installing solar panels as well as more day-to-day plumbing jobs.
Candice Lock – Southampton
I’m just waiting to begin my 2-week practical and only started studying in November. I’m working as a Postman and study during breaks at work and at home in the evenings. T4TS recommend you do about an hour everyday, but I do about 3 or 4 hours.
I’ve always done my own DIY at home so I thought I’d do it full time
The Virtual Reality software is good because it points out straight away if you’ve made any mistakes and allows you to go back and do it again. It prepares you to do things in a certain way. I think the software is really beneficial.
Once I’ve completed my studies I’m interested in starting my own business and working for myself.
I was aware and found that everyone was saying there was a lot of money in it. There’s a shortage of tradespeople at the moment and ultimately I want to be self employed one day.
It’s been really good so far, I’ve just completed the foundation and I’ve been very pleased with it so I’m a lot more confident with all the skills that I’ve learnt. but I’m doing the rest of the intermediate and going on to the advanced as well hopefully. Ultimately I will get some experience working for a small plumbing firm or someone else so then I can eventually be self-employed and have my own small business, monitoring other people.
Eleanor Batchelor – Kent
Since passing my 6022, 6032 and water regs in March 2009 I have started my own plumbing business and have not had a break up until this month. I have done several bathroom refurbs and several kitchen installations and have made a number of contacts with other trades. I am now doing work for a builder on extensions and bathrooms and have landed a contract with a fast food chain that is a house hold name.
It is now getting to the point in my business that I have made enquiries on doing my Part P defined scope so I can do the electrical work myself rather than wait on electricians to do the electrical work for me.
Business has been brisk so I have been able to buy a bigger van, although as they say no rest for the wicked, have had a few days off in the past month as people seem to be getting over Christmas.
My advice to other students if they are thinking of going on their own is to be honest with the customers and keep your prices competitive. I have done this and find that I get more work from my name being passed on rather than paying for advertising.
Good luck to everyone on the course.
Mr Duncan Stone
I completed my first 2 weeks of practical work up in Leeds and now I’m working part time 4 days a week in a warehouse to pay the bills and the other 3 days I’ve been taken on by a company to do small electrical jobs to give me more hands on and work my way up the ladder to become fully employed when I’ve passed my 3+4 week practical. So it’s giving me an extra push to get studying done to work for better life.
Mr Matthew Murray
After completing most of my practicals I’ve gained valuable experience and confidence I’ve since been on a few plumbing jobs some on fault finding others on full bathroom installations five months ago when I first started my practical training I was very nervous and not very confident now with the practical and theory training its changed my life as a person being more confident and competent which has gained me respect in the plumbing industry which has reflected on my customers satisfaction and further recommendations which has been a massive change for me I’m now currently fully fitting my bathroom and kitchen as my continued success which has only been achieved through my commitment and the help from train 4 trade skills and training centre in Leeds – Thanks again my continued success.
Mr Andrew Hanley
Due to family commitments I had to take a few months off from my course, but as of January 1st I was free to get back into my course full time and this I did!
I have completed two large modules since that and achieved great results in the exams and am pushing on with my third module of 2010. I have taken on work since starting my course plumbing in washing machines, fixing leaks, replacing traps and putting in pipe work which had to go through external walls which meant rebricking and cementing.
As of last month I have also been offered work shadowing plumbers and other tradesmen within a large company which they don’t normally do but they said due to my knowledge and drive to advance in the trade they were prepared to make an exception!
Thanks to this, I am getting more confident and moving forwards each day and alongside doing my studying I can see my career becoming a full paid reality in the very near future.
I plan to start my own business and also work on large commercial builds with this company
I am currently shadowing for in order that I can truly learn everything there is to learn about the plumbing industry!
Many thanks Train 4 Trade for helping me realise my full potential and move into a career I truly enjoy being a part of!
Mr Peter Bonner
After taking this course I am currently in the process of becoming self-employed. I have previously worked for other people to gain experience and now feel confident enough to go on my own and be my own boss. I am also looking at joining the approved contractors scheme so customers feel confident in hiring my services. I would not have been able to do any of this without the excellent teaching of the guys at the training centre and t4ts.
Mr Michael Dyson