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In Summary header image


Plumbers install, maintain and repair systems of water supply, drainage and central heating in houses and other locations. 

Installation work includes central heating systems and their controls, pipe-work, sanitary systems, drainage systems, guttering and rainwater systems and large refrigeration systems for industry.

Maintenance and repair work includes routine servicing and emergency repairs, which involves finding faults, replacing or repairing damaged parts, carrying out tests and ensuring that the system works properly. Plumbers work on such technologies as underfloor heating systems, solar heating and geothermal heating systems.

Training header image

Phase 1: With Employer

  • Induction Training
  • Introduction to Health & Safety
  • Introduction to Tools & Equipment
  • Introduction to Basic Skills

Phase 2: Delivered in Training Centre (20 weeks)
Course Content:
  • Induction
  • Thermal Processes & Mild Steel Pipefitting
  • Domestic Hot and Cold Water Services
  • Domestic Heating/MMA (Manual Metal Arc) Welding
Phase 3: With Employer
Work Based Training and Assessments

Phase 4: Delivered in Educational Colleges (11 weeks)
Course Content:
  • Thermal Processes & Mild Steel Pipefitting
  • Advanced Copper & Plastic Pipework
  • Oil Fired Boilers & Heating Systems
  • Pipework Systems
Phase 5: With Employer
Work Based Training and Assessments

Phase 6: Delivered in Educational Colleges (11 weeks)
Course Content:
  • Thermal Processes & Pipefitting
  • Advanced Pipework, Water & Waste Water Systems
  • Heating & Air Conditioning
  • Gas Installation Safety
  • Plant and Process Systems
Phase 7: With Employer
Work Based Training and Assessments

The overall duration of this apprenticeship is a minimum of 4 years provided all phases are successfully completed.

On successful completion of the programme the learner is awarded a Level 6 Advanced Certificate Craft – Plumbing.

To check whether courses are running in your area for Apprenticeships, check with your local ETB using this link and select your county. 

Personal Qualities header image

As a Plumber you will need to be physically active and to be able to work with your hands.

An awareness of health and safety and good housekeeping is essential as well as attention to detail and an eye for the aesthetic.

The Plumber must have the ability to:

  • Plan, Organise and Communicate effectively
  • Solve problems
  • Work independently and as part of a team
  • Show a positive attitude
  • Recognise the need for good customer relations
  • Demonstrate good work practices including time keeping, tidiness, responsibility, quality awareness and safety awareness
Note: A person wishing to become an apprentice Plumber must pass a colour–vision test approved by SOLAS.

Work Activities header image

Plumbers work in a variety of locations including houses, industrial and commercial buildings. 

Plumbers require many skills including:

  • Working with technical specifications and drawings
  • Ability to use a variety of hand and power tools including wrenches, spanners, saws, cutters and welding equipment
  • Cutting, bending, joining and fixing materials such as lead, copper, aluminium, plastic, zinc and iron
  • Installation of central heating systems and their controls and pipework, sanitary systems
  • Drainage systems, guttering and rainwater systems, and large refrigeration systems for industry
  • Testing systems to ensure they are working efficiently and safely
  • Maintenance and repair work including routine servicing and emergency repairs
Aspects of work: 
  • Learning and developing new practical craft-related skills, knowledge and competence
  • Working with and learning from experienced craftspersons
  • Seeing a job through from start to finish
  • Comply with Health and Safety requirements
  • Working with technical drawings and diagrams
  • Using tools or machinery to shape metal
  • Being accurate with numbers in counting, measuring and arithmetic
  • Being well organised and careful with practical tasks
  • Working at heights
  • Lifting or carrying heavy items
  • Taking responsibility for own learning, including the allocation of study time
  • Flexible working arrangements as emergency work may be involved
  • Being physically active
  • Passing all your phase exams (theory, practicals skills demonstration)
  • Bending, kneeling and working in cramped and awkward spaces
  • Earning as you learn

Pay & Fees header image

Funding Arrangements

All apprentices are paid a Training Allowance while attending off-the-job training in training centres or college, and an Apprentice Rate of pay during the on-the-job phases of their apprenticeship.

Details of the Training Allowances payable are available here.

What apprentice rate wages are paid?

Apprentice rates are paid for the on-the-job phases of apprenticeships. The actual rates paid may vary depending on the occupation and employer. Generally, the rates will increase in a number of steps during the apprenticeship. For example:


All other Trades




€ / hr

€ / hr

1st Year Rate

2nd Year Rate

3rd Year Rate

4th Year Rate









Note: You should always seek details of specific rates of pay for apprentices from prospective employers.

Apprentice Student Contribution

The Annual Student Contribution is levied on students attending Higher Education Institutions including Institutes of Technology. As part of the changes included in Budget 2014, apprentices now pay the same contribution as full time students, but their contribution is based on the time they spend in the Institute or College.

The Student Contribution is payable to the IoT /College on the date of registration for the training phase. You should consult the relevant IoT/College for details of payment options.

Note: Apprentices are required to pay an examination fee to the IoT or College for repeat exams. 

Female Apprentices' bursary for employers

To promote the entry of women into the designated apprenticeships, a bursary is available to employers to encourage an increased level of recruitment of female apprentices.

For more information contact your local ETB Training Centre using this link to select your county. 

Assistance for Redundant Apprentices

If an employer cannot keep the apprentice on for whatever reason, the apprentice should:

  • Immediately tell the ETB Training Advisor
  • Register with the local INTREO Office

    Redundant apprentices can:
  • Enrol in other training courses to improve their skills
  • Enrol in a range of night courses run in ETB training centres

Entry Requirements header image

The minimum age at which the employment of an apprentice may commence is 16 years of age. 
The minimum educational requirements are: 
1. Grade D or "Achieved" in five subjects in the Department of Education & Skills Junior Certificate Examination or an approved equivalent,
2. The successful completion of an approved Pre-Apprenticeship course 
3. Three years’ work experience gained over sixteen years of age in a relevant designated industrial activity as SOLAS shall deem acceptable 

You must obtain a job as an apprentice in your chosen occupation. Your employer must be approved to train apprentices and must register you as an apprentice within 2 weeks of recruitment.

In certain Crafts, apprenticeship applicants are required to pass a colour vision test approved by SOLAS. 

Note: These are the current approved minimum educational requirements for apprenticeship programmes, however, previous experience of the following subjects would be an advantage but not essential:

  • Engineering
  • Technical Drawing/Graphics
  • Metalwork
  • Construction Studies
  • Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics


Getting an Apprenticeship header image

You must obtain employment as an apprentice in your chosen occupation.

  • The employer must be approved to train apprentices.
  • The employer must register you as an apprentice within two weeks of recruitment.
Note: Plumbing Apprenticeship applicants are required to pass a colour vision test approved by SOLAS.

Are you interested in a construction apprenticeship?
If so, register your interest by creating an account and uploading a short personal profile via this link.

In a nutshell ...

  • Start by doing some research and make sure you fully understand what's involved in an apprenticeship.
  • Spend time thinking about what industry you would like to work in and narrow down your options.
  • Check out the type of work being done in the apprenticeship areas of interest to you [See Apprenticeship Videos].
  • Be sure to see the work first hand - ask employers, qualified craftspeople or other apprentices to help you out with finding out more.
  • Get the advice of your parents/guardians and career guidance counsellor.
  • Talk to the Apprenticeship team in the local Education & Training Board. To find your local ETB see http://www.apprenticeship.ie/en/contact/SitePages/Home.aspx

Find an employer:
  • Investigate apprentice job opportunities with local employers.
  • Look for apprentice job advertisements in local and national newspapers - many large organisations advertise their apprentice vacancies.
  • Use the internet to find out about opportunities - [check out Apprenticeship Vacancies]
  • Locate companies in your desired field and follow them on TwitterInstagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more about the company and any opportunities as they become available.
  • Register for notifications about upcoming apprenticeship opportunities on relevant websites such as apprentices.ie or earnandlearn.ie or IFSapprenticeships.ie

Career Opportunities header image

On successful completion of the apprenticeship programme, apprentices are qualified to work within the recognised trade or profession. 

For those with a desire to advance, career progrssion options include:

  • Supervisor 
  • Foreman 
  • Site Manager
  • Starting you own business

Occupation Profile header image

Progression Routes header image

On successful completion of the apprenticeship programme, apprentices are qualifi ed to work within the recognised trade or profession.

Where apprentices and craftspersons have the necessary ability, initiative and basic qualifi cations, opportunities are available for advancement. These include advanced technology courses and management courses which are available in Institutes of Technology, Schools of Management and Professional Institutes.

Many apprentices use their apprenticeship qualifi cation as a platform to launch careers such as engineers, managers, owners of businesses, teachers and instructors amongst others.

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