As skilled trade professionals, plumbers can benefit from meeting certain physical, mental, and legal requirements to practice the plumber trade. Plumbers may focus on residential or commercial projects, where their work involves repairing existing plumbing systems and installing systems in newly constructed buildings.
Each type of plumbing project can require specialised skills, for example, plumbing gasfitting, while there are also basic plumbing skills that are essential for almost every plumbing job.
Keep reading to discover the plumbing skills needed to succeed in the plumbing industry, how you can improve your plumbing skills via plumbing training, and how plumbers can benefit from reducing their risks with plumber insurance*.
What are plumbing skills?
As skilled professionals, plumbers will benefit from meeting certain physical, mental, and legal requirements in order to provide professional plumbing services. Plumbers may focus on residential or commercial projects, where they work with repairing existing plumbing systems or installing systems in newly constructed buildings. Each type of plumbing project can require specialised skills, while other plumbing skills are necessary regardless of the type of plumbing job.
Essential plumbing skills
Plumbing skills and traits include specific job-related knowledge, such as types of pipe fittings and how to use them, as well as general skills, such as time management. Here are examples of the basic plumbing skills and plumbing traits that will help you excel in your plumbing career.
1. Mechanical skills
Plumbers will benefit from being knowledgeable and adept at using various machinery and tools. Choosing appropriate tools and machinery ensures projects are completed efficiently, effectively, and safely. Additionally, plumbers may need to troubleshoot issues on the job by using tools and equipment creatively. Understanding how to manipulate physical objects is important for a hands-on career like plumbing.
2. Physical skills
Plumbing can be a physically demanding job that requires these physical skills:
- Flexibility: Plumbers will need to be able to reach the appropriate areas, which are often under cabinets, underground, and in other tight places.
- Good vision: Plumbers can benefit from having good eyesight to work in dark spaces and with small, specialised tools and equipment, such as gauges.
- Physical strength: Carrying large pipes, keeping equipment and tools steady for long periods, and tightening clasps and fittings requires physical strength.
- Fine motor skills: Plumbers work with small tools and parts and can benefit from having well-developed fine motor skills to place, fasten, and operate these elements effectively.
3. Application of plumbing principles
Understanding the basic principles of physical sciences and math – such as water pressure and movement, physics, and geometry – can help plumbers prepare and plan for a job, much of which will be covered if you complete a Plumbing Certificate III during your plumbing studies. Plumbers will then be able to apply this knowledge to the task at hand, use it to develop project plans, and to calculate measurements and specifications and problem-solve.
4. Problem-solving skills
Whether you intend to specialise in plumbing gasfitting or another area of the plumbing trade, it’s worth noting that all types of plumbers should be well-versed in identifying problems, diagnosing the cause of the problem, and providing solutions. Plumbers often have to go through the problem-solving process quickly while they are in the middle of a project. This requires swift, logical reasoning, and sometimes creative thinking, which you can start developing as part of your plumbing apprentice skills development.
5. Administrative skills
In addition to hands-on work, plumbers should be able to use basic computer programs, such as word processing software and spreadsheet programs, as well as any company-specific programs or software, such as project management or budgeting programs. You may also consider developing a working knowledge of any software programs that are commonplace in the plumbing industry.
Plumbers may also be required to write job reports and should have a basic knowledge of correct spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. They may also be asked to perform tasks that require organisational and planning skills, such as:
- tracking expenses;
- taking inventory;
- ordering supplies;
- planning project calendars; and
- communication skills.
5. People skills
Plumbers can work with people from many different walks of life on any given project, including, but not limited to:
- call operators;
- company owners;
- residential and commercial clients; and
- equipment suppliers.
Plumbers can benefit from honing their communication skills and their interpersonal skills so they can communicate effectively and professionally with clients and suppliers. They are required to explain complicated ideas and processes in ways that non-plumbers will understand, while also discussing expected timelines and costs.
In a plumbing career you will have to enjoy working independently, as plumbing is a fairly solitary job. Whether you work for a big company or as a sole trader, you’ll often do call outs on your own. Working independently comes with some great advantages; for example, you get to do things your way without someone else looking over your shoulder.
When you choose a career in plumbing, it goes without saying that you will have to love working with your hands and being on your feet a lot. This active lifestyle will suit you well if you can’t stand the thought of working in an office all day. While you don’t need to be an athlete, you will benefit from being fit enough to spend a lot of time moving around on your feet.
8. Good hand-eye coordination
Good hand-eye coordination is a skill of great benefit for plumbers. Above average hand-eye coordination is a very handy plumber skill, not least because it is essential to your safety on the job.
9. Enjoy working outdoors
Plumbers often work outside, in different types of weather, and sometimes at heights. If you like the outdoors and aren’t afraid of heights, then you’ll have no problem in your plumbing career.
How to improve your plumbing skills
Here are some handy ways to improve the skills you will use as a plumber.
Most Australian states require plumbers to obtain a plumbing licence before they can practice the trade. Plumbing licence requirements often include several years of experience, a plumbing trade qualification such as a Plumbing Certificate III, or a combination of both. You will then be required to pass a state licensing exam.
Complete a plumbing apprenticeship
An apprenticeship provides more in-depth plumbing training and allows you the time to develop your plumbing apprentice skills under the supervision and direction of an experienced and qualified plumber.
Victorian plumbing insurance: What you need to know about plumbing insurance
As outlined by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA), all Victorian licensed plumbers must provide evidence to the VBA that they hold the relevant Victorian plumbing insurance before the VBA will issue them with a plumbing licence. This is important, because it is illegal to work as a licensed plumber in Victoria without plumbers insurance cover in the required areas.
Have you secured your business insurance for FY23/24?
No hardworking plumber wants to see their plumbing business get flushed down the drain – but that can be a real possibility if you haven’t taken critical steps to reduce your exposure to risk.
Explore your plumber insurance options (the term used for business insurance products that can benefit plumbers) with BizCover today and discover just how fast, simple, and hassle-free business insurance is when you choose BizCover. Compare competitive business insurance quotes from Australia’s leading insurers online or call the BizCover team on 1300 920 868 and enjoy a better business insurance experience today.
*This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording. © 2023 BizCover Pty Limited, all rights reserved. ABN 68 127 707 975; AFSL 501769.