It has occurred to me that since I stopped working on the tools four years ago, The Plumbette has evolved into more of a lifestyle blog with plumbing posts interspersed in between. As I’ve thought about why I created this blog (and I do this continually to ensure I’m always creating content that answers my ‘why’), I wanted it to be a place where anyone could come to find advice, encouragement and inspiration, through my personal experiences in the plumbing trade. But those plumbing experience posts are few and far between these days because of my current circumstances. However, I can still put the spotlight on female plumbers, by sharing their stories.
It’s been my desire for years to shine the spotlight on female plumbers on this blog, but sadly, many are eager to be on the blog, but don’t send back answers to my questions. Busyness is often the cause, which I totally get. So I haven’t pursued it. Until now.
Earlier this year I was contacted by Aimee Stanton, who is another female plumber. And she has started her very own blog: Aimee Adventures. Her first post shares how she came into the plumbing trade. I know her blog will be one that female tradies, and those that support women in trades, will want to read and follow. Aimee is living life her way and her unique approach to her plumbing trade shows where your trade can take you. I’m super excited to have Aimee on the blog today. Her story is just one example of how a woman has used her trade career to live the life she wants.
Why did you decide to do a plumbing apprenticeship?
When I was in high school I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do! At one stage I wanted to be the red wiggle out of the TV show The Wiggles but obviously that one didn’t work out too well for me! After getting expelled from school and going on to study beauty therapy because well… actually I don’t have a clue why, I think it was because my mates were doing it so I thought I would just do it too. I soon began to realise that I hated it and I couldn’t paint nails to save my life. I ended up doing some labouring for my dad who is a builder and realised after only one day YESSSSS!!!!! This is my calling, I want to be a tradie! Whoop whoop whoop whoop, I thought to myself as I signed the paperwork to start my pre apprenticeship in plumbing!
What were/are some challenges with working in a male dominant industry?
Oh golly! Where do I start? HA! Only kidding! It’s actually awesome working in a male dominant industry, do you know why? Because you have to push yourself! You have to prove yourself and you need to show the rest of the world that you aren’t just ‘taking the p*ss’. I find each day, I rock up to the job site and people tend to look at me confused but once they actually get to chat with me most of them are quite impressed! The other month I was standing in the lift on a multi- story commercial job site and old mate electrician was like to me ‘level 13 please?’ and I’m like ‘huh?’ and he continues to say ‘you are the lift driver aren’t you?’ LIFT DRIVER? I was a little bit offended! I think I had a hammer drill & a set of spanners in my hand too! But that’s all the fun of being a lady tradie.
A lot has changed in the construction industry in the last few years. More and more girls are getting out there and giving a trade a red hot crack. I normally work for a very large scale commercial company where the blokes from my work treat me like ‘one of the boys’ which is great and I love it! (Until I have to hear all of their stories about what they got up to on the weekend!) The industry is finally changing and more and more companies are starting to realise the perks of hiring a female apprentice.
Has anyone inspired you during your apprenticeship?
When times get tough you do feel alone and that you can’t do it and it is ‘all too hard.’ But I found things that got me through the rough stages of my apprenticeship were reaching out to other females in the trades, knowing you weren’t alone. And there are others out there, like you, that are trying to go against the odds and change the way the world see tradeswomen. Knowing that you have a massive support group makes you even more determined to prove all those people wrong who said you can’t. YEAH YEAH YEAH! GO GIRLS, PROVE ‘EM WRONG!!!!!!!!
Where do you work now in the plumbing industry?
I’m not going to lie – I’m currently travelling Australia in a van chasing waterfalls, in fact right now I’m drinking an espresso martini looking out at the beach. But it’s not like I didn’t work hard for this, I always said after getting a trade under my belt and buying an investment property, I would go out and chase my dreams.
Two years after I finished my apprenticeship, after working my butt off 6-7 days a week, I realised it was time. Time to go out and explore and see the world. As much as I love my job, I believe in balance. Work life balance. Those oxy bottles and tube cutters will always be there. Like they say if you find a job you LOVE you don’t have to work a day in your life! Which I totally agree on, but at the moment I am just enjoying my time off to explore our beautiful country. With saying that I went from working at a small domestic roof plumbing company for the first year of my apprenticeship to working at one of the most amazing mechanical plumbing companies in Australia, AG COOMBS.
What does a typical day look like for you?
At the moment, well let’s just say, very cruisy! Never in the same location, always at the beach and always planning my future and my goals. This year I plan to get more involved in inspiring young girls who are also struggling at school just like I did. Girls that are not quite sure what they want to do with their lives and aren’t the typical A+ student. I want to show them to take a step out of their comfort zone, and they can do anything if they put their mind to it.
A typical day is hard to say when I am working because I am lucky enough to work for an amazing company that sends me interstate, gives me night shift and weekend work. I always have lots of variety but not one job is ever the same.
Normally I would wake up about 5:30am, chuck on my pink socks and drive into work where I would spend most of my day welding mild steel pipes, brazing brass flanges and copper, reading and interpreting plans & also working on elevated work platforms & installing duct work. I spend most of the day working on industrial air conditioners (chillers, plant rooms, fan coils ect) then SMOKO (the best part of the day 😉 which I would spend laughing and talking crap to the other tradies and eating a mean tuna sandwich.
Why should women consider plumbing (or any trade) as a career?
Choosing the path of becoming a tradeswoman was the BEST decision of my life. I have always been mistaken for a hairdresser, or a beauty therapist or a retail worker, but proving all those people wrong who said I couldn’t, is the best feeling in the world. If you aren’t happy with your life and where you are now I encourage you to take a step out of your comfort zone and get involved in a trade, because not ONE person I have spoken to has ever regretted following the path of a trade.
I’m not going to lie, it isn’t easy! There are times where you want to give up and second guess yourself but after those 4 years of learning things you never thought you were able to do, those 4 years of meeting new and exciting people and then always having a trade under your belt for the rest of your life, it makes you proud!
It makes you happy and it makes you feel like you have conquered something so many are scared to do. So chase your dreams girls! Lets show the world that we are equal and we can smash out anything thrown our way.
Do you have any encouragement for female plumbers finding it tough to keep working towards their licenses?
Licenses are a substantial part of your trade. Getting your licence means working for yourself, working for yourself means more $$$, more money means MORE FUN & MORE ADVENTURES! So do it! Take the plunge, I mean you have come this far, what’s a little more night school matter?
What do you like to do in your spare time? What hobbies do you have outside of work?
If you don’t already know I am quite the adventurous type! I am always doing something crazy, and always stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel life is too short and I have to make the most of it. I mean what good is life if it isn’t on the edge? I use to be your usual average joe who didn’t care for much. When I was 19 I bought a house with my (ex) boyfriend, I got a loan out for a brand new car, I even bought a pet pig! (Actually his name was Constable Crackles and he was pretty bloody cool!)
But then one day I woke up, I realised… this isn’t what I wanted, I don’t want the average life! I want to do something that makes me happy. I didn’t want to impress the world and do things that is considered ‘acceptable’ or the ‘right way’ to live. So after only 1 month of moving into my first house with my boyfriend I decided to call it quits. I sold the house, moved back in with my parents, sold my car and gave my pig to a friend from work. Something that morning made me think, I wanted to live life for the experiences, not for the money.
I sold all my possessions and began to travel Australia, still doing what I love (plumbing) on the way. But now I just see life in a different perspective. I want to work to live not live to work! What is your dream life? Is it close to what you are doing now? If it isn’t how can you change it? What can you do to be completely happy? It may not be beauty therapy or it may not be plumbing, but in the end all that matters is you take the plunge, take the plunge to do something AMAZING!
Step out of your comfort zone and go chase your dreams, no matter what they are, you will not regret it! TRUST ME!
Isn’t Aimee’s life journey, one that shows a different way for a woman to get involved in plumbing, yet still live a life that’s true to what she wants? Aimee’s story is proof that you can not predict where a career in trades will take you.
I always told myself I would get a trade under my belt then go out and chase my dreams! • Thinking about now how far I have come from rocking up to Swinburne TAFE 7 years ago for my first day of my pre apprenticeship when I didn’t even know how to use a pop riveter! @TAFEvic • #TAFEvic #TAFEvictoria #TAFEtalks #TAFE #TAFEwilltakeyouthere #career #education #Educationstate #TAFEtaughtme #TAFEstories #ad
Thank you Aimee for sharing your story. Your enthusiasm for life is refreshing.
Do you want to share your trade story on The Plumbette? Just send a message to me through my Contact page.
Now tell me, what inspires you most about Aimee’s story?