Back when my dad was looking to get an apprenticeship, there were limited choices to what trade you could choose. He was given the choice of being a sheet metal worker or a plumber and he chose to be a plumber so that he wouldn’t be stuck in a shed all day.
Plumbing in the 70’s and 80’s and I’d say right into the 90’s was seen as a pretty crappy job to do. You became a plumber because you weren’t so good in the classroom but you were terrific working with your hands and solving problems. Apprentices would get covered in crap all the time. My dad would re count the story of when an older plumber he was stationed to work with made sure he got covered in effluent and he had to ride a council bus home. Everyone on the bus would inch closer to the windows and screw up their noses when my dad got on because he smelt so awful. My poor dad had to smell it all day while he worked. If a plumber did that to an apprentice now they’d be up for harassment for sure.
I’ve told dad that he needs to write his story because we would all be amazed at how the industry has changed. Plumbing has evolved. Plumbers are starting to be seen as a valuable occupation. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard mums wanting their sons to be a plumber if they’re looking to get into a trade. And tradies are a popular occupation of choice for potential partners when it comes to single ladies choosing their man.
But the message of being a licensed trade is still being ignored or naively forgotten by some in the public. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know my stance on doing your own plumbing without a license.
But what if you do want to be a plumber? Good on you for making the decision. But don’t think for a minute that it’s an easy occupation to get into or to do well in.
We need more good plumbers, but there aren’t many apprenticeships being offered due to the lack of work but I think this will change in the next year or so when construction work starts on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games.
I’ve written a post with tips on Ten tips on getting a Plumbing Apprenticeship. In the mean time if you are keen to get a plumbing apprenticeship it’s best to ring plumbing companies to check if they are putting on apprentices. If they aren’t, you could ask if they require a labourer to dig holes or pick up and deliver gear to job sites. Sometimes you have to think outside the square to get a foot in.
Being a plumber is a rewarding career choice but it can be tough on the body and if you choose to run your own business, can be a nightmare to keep organized with the paper trail. At the end of the day, most industries are starting to get more inundated with paperwork so it’s part of the norm when it comes to work life.
The best thing about choosing to be a plumber is that it is a licensed trade which means no Tom, Dick, or Harry can attempt to do their own plumbing and must call a plumber. Whereas, anyone can do their own tiling or painting.
Plumbing is great if you like variety in work and environment. No day is ever the same. Dealing with customers and other trades onsite can be pleasurable or painful depending on their demands and how well they pay.
So if the New Year is calling you to a career change, go for it. Thankfully the industry is starting to accept more female apprentices too so if you are a female and wanting to pick a trade, choose to be a plumber. The demand for female plumbers is going to increase as more customers request female tradies to work in their home. More demand means more apprenticeship openings.
Let’s hope the demand in 2014 will increase in our favour.