Plumbers play a very important role in making sure all Kiwis have clean drinking water on tap, and that waste is taken away safely and efficiently from homes. They ensure the right water, gas, and waste systems are in place in buildings across the country.
You’ll begin your plumbing career as an apprentice, and from there, you have a world of opportunities open to you. You could be a project manager supervising a team, passing on your skills as a trainer, or even starting your own business.
Becoming a plumber is a great way to start a long-term career, where you learn life-long skills while supporting New Zealand’s economy. The job is constantly in demand, well paid, and rewarding.
Plumbers assemble and maintain pipes and other fixtures that supply buildings with water and gas, or remove waste from them. You'll be working with other tradies, such as electricians – there's lots of teamwork involved!
A day in the life of a plumber is never boring. You get to work outdoors with your hands, facing a range of challenges. One day you may be working on a major construction project, and the next on a smaller job on a residential property.
On any given day, you could be:
Once you finish your apprenticeship and pass the Plumbers, Gasfitters, and Drainlayers Board exams, you can apply to become a licensed plumber. Your Tradesman Licence gives you the right to work independently as a plumber anywhere in New Zealand.
After you’ve held your Tradesman Licence for at least two years, you can sit further exams to become a Certifying Plumber. This allows you to supervise other apprentices – passing on the skills you learnt as an apprentice yourself.
As your experience grows, you’ll have the opportunity to move up to higher-level roles such as project manager or supervisor.
Many plumbers go on to start their own business, increasing both their freedom and income. Others move into roles in the wider industry, such as consulting or teaching.
Your plumbing qualification is also recognised in other countries, so you can take your trade around the world.
Plumbers need a special set of skills. You'll learn all the technical bits in your apprenticeship, but for starters, you'll need to be:
As an apprentice, you’ll be working, learning, and earning money at the same time. You’ll work closely with experienced people at your company to learn everything you need to become a qualified plumber.
During your 4-year apprenticeship, you'll learn the skills you need to become a plumber in two ways:
A supervisor at your company will work with you throughout the apprenticeship to check you are working correctly and safely.
4 years of training is required. You’ll learn the skills you need to become a plumber in two ways: practical learning and classroom learning
From 1st January 2018, the cost per week to study plumbing or a combination of trades is:
Plumbing & Drainlaying - $54.20 per week (incl GST)
Plumbing, Drainlaying & Gasfitting - $54.20 per week (incl GST)
Block courses are designed to complement your practical learning. They give you a theory-based understanding of your chosen trade.
Block courses are one week in duration. Here's a breakdown of the number of block courses per programme:
Plumbing and Drainlaying: 12-14 block courses
Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying: 15-18
Tradies are busy people! Your employer will appreciate having another tradie on board to help out with their list of jobs.
A fresh pair of eyes can really help any business. Your unique attitudes and skills will help expand your employer’s ways of thinking and working.
As your employer trains you up, they’ll stay on top of the latest standards, keeping their business up-to-date with a changing industry.
You’re part of the “next generation” of tradies, making sure New Zealand continues to have a highly skilled trades workforce, well into the future.
Like any job, there are some basic skills that are very handy to have before you start as a plumber. These include:
Showing you already have these skills can make a good first impression on potential employers and help you get the job.
But don’t worry if you haven’t mastered all of these yet – most employers will be happy to train you up on any gaps you have.
Your CV is probably the most important document in your search for an employer and a job. Make sure you write a CV that showcases your best skills and grabs the employer’s attention. Here are some tips for a winning CV:
Right, you’ve got your CV sorted – now it’s time to find an employer who will offer you a job.
If you think about it, there are heaps of places you can look. Here are some suggestions:
If an employer has said they’re interested in talking to you – well done! Now’s your real chance to impress.
Remember that even the most casual, laid-back trades company is still a business. That means you have to act professional and make a strong first impression if you want the job.
If you have limited experience talking to business owners and managers, here are some quick tips to impress them:
National Certificate in Plumbing Level 4
National Certificate in Drainlaying Level 4
National Certificate in Gasfitting Level 4
The Board, established under the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006, is responsible for administering the registration and licensing systems of plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers.