Job Prospects... At a glance
Demand for qualified plumbers and gasfitters is growing and is likely to be moderate to strong over the short to medium term
Plumbers and gasfitters assemble, install and repair pipes, drains, fixtures and fittings that are used to supply water and gas or remove waste.
Plumbers generally complete an apprenticeship. Apprentices are required to complete a National Certificate in Plumbing and Gasfitting, Plumbing and Drainlaying, or Plumbing or Gasfitting, all four-year programmes. The Skills Organisation provides detailed information on plumbing apprenticeships.
The Skills Organisation: www.skills.org.nz
Master Plumbers operates a mentored apprenticeship programme called Masterlink, placing apprentices into ‘host’ plumbing firms and mentoring apprentices through to completion of their National Certificate. ATT also has a mentored apprenticeship programme.
If you are looking at doing a plumbing or gasfitting apprenticeship it is a good idea to have completed English, maths and hard technology subjects up to NCEA Level 2.
The practical work tasks, hours worked, and pay rate for an apprentice are determined by the employer providing the apprenticeship.
Plumbing and gasfitting apprenticeships are available in the construction industry. These provide workplace-based learning, and allow employees to gain Level 4 qualifications.
The New Zealand Apprenticeships scheme is available for anyone over the age of 16, and is subsidised by the government. More information on the scheme is on the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) website.
Master Plumbers, Gasfitters & Drainlayers: www.masterplumbers.org.nz
The cost during a plumbing or gasfitting apprenticeship varies depending on the pathway taken and on whether the employer contributes.
|National Certificate of Plumbing (Apprenticeship)|
|$8,000 - $11,300 over four years|
Average costs in 2018 for a domestic student. Costs vary between institutions. First time students may be eligible for fees-free tertiary education for their first year of study, which will reduce the total cost. For more information about fees-free eligibility, go to feesfree.govt.nz. Some polytechnics may have a zero-fees scheme. Further costs include materials, textbooks, and accommodation. Mentored apprenticeships often cover training fees, accommodation costs and provide tools – a sign-up fee is usually charged in lieu of training costs.
Rents vary from place to place. Estimated market rents by region, city and suburb are available on the MBIE Tenancy Services website.
The StudyLink website provides general budget advice for students, and the Sorted website provides help with detailed budget planning.
There are plumbing and gasfitting training providers throughout New Zealand. Many polytechnics run courses. If you complete your apprenticeship with an employer, you may be expected to remain with that employer for a period.
Legally, plumbers and gasfitters are required to hold a form of authorisation, usually an identity card, before they can work. People in training hold an authorisation called a limited certificate. Once training is completed and a person has met registration requirements they become a licensed plumber.
The registration process is run by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board (PGDB). To become registered as a licensed plumber or gasfitter you must have completed a National Certificate in plumbing or gasfitting, and sat and passed the PGDB examination.
The next stage from this is to become a certifying plumber.
|Licence category||Certifying plumber
This is the highest qualification available. These people are responsible for ensuring both their own work, and the work of anyone they supervise is done competently.
Limited certificate trainee plumber
More information on this process is outlined on the PGDB website.
The total number of plumber registrations has grown steadily during the last few years, and now stands at about 14,500.
Registered plumbers chart
Source: Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board
The number of students completing the Level 4 National Certificate in Plumbing (as part of an apprenticeship) grew strongly up to 2010. Since then the number has fallen, and in 2017 there were 150 completions.
Qualification completions chart
Source: Ministry of Education
Apprentice or trainee plumbers may start on the training minimum wage or a little more. Their wages increase as they progress through their apprenticeship and gain skills.
According to Master Plumbers, once registered, you can expect to get a wage of around $55,000. A more experienced registered plumber may earn around $65,000. Experienced, certifying plumbers can earn $75,000 or more.
The wage level is higher in Auckland and Christchurch than in the rest of the country. In Auckland, registered plumbers can earn $60,000-77,000, while in Christchurch they earn $58,000-70,000. Experienced, certifying plumbers can earn over $85,000 in Auckland and over $80,000 in Christchurch.
Experienced, self-employed plumbers can earn between $80,000 and $100,000 a year, or even more.
Plumbers and gasfitters’ employment
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections. Percentages are compound annual growth rates.
*Growth projections are for the category “Plumbers”.
The employment forecast shows very fast growth until 2021 largely fuelled by Auckland construction activities. In other regions, employment growth is likely to remain stable. Beyond 2021 growth is forecast to continue, but at a slower rate.
Source: Statistics NZ Census and MBIE projections
|Overseas||In further study||Receiving a benefit||In employment||Median Salary|
Source: Tertiary Education Commission *Three years after completion of L4 Certificate – Building.
Three years after completing a Level 4 Certificate in Building, 58% of graduates were employed and 10% were overseas. The median annual salary at that point was around $45,000.
Plumbers are on the Skill Shortage List, meaning that New Zealand is actively looking for people from overseas to fill these jobs. Anyone looking to become a plumber is more likely to get a position. A full list is available on the Immigration New Zealand website.
Gasfitters are not on Immigration New Zealand’s skill shortage lists.
Immigration NZ, skill shortage list: skillshortages.immigration.govt.nz
Since 2010, the number of online job ads for plumbers has risen strongly; by 2017, there were almost than six times the number of online ads compared to 2008. This shows the strong demand for qualified plumbers, and means that it should be easy for them to find a job.
Jobs advertised chart
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
Plumber and gasfitter vacancies are advertised through public media such as the Trade Me Jobs and Seek websites.
Work as a plumber’s labourer is usually available on larger construction sites. This gives you a chance to get a look at what the industry is about and is an opportunity for you to prove that you can be and want to become a plumber.
After finishing their apprenticeships, and after gaining several years of experience, many plumbers start their own business and start training their own apprentices. Certifying plumbers may plan, supervise or work on plumbing installations.
The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level plumbers.
More information about plumbers and gasfitters is available on the Careers New Zealand website and through the "Just the Job" videos.
The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.
The occupation of plumbers and gasfitters has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:
3341 – Plumbers