Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Linda Byrnes from Bank of Ireland to give some advice for people considering this job:


Linda Byrnes

Pensions Administrator

Bank of Ireland

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  Linda Byrnes

Someone considering this job would need to:

  • Be a team player Be able to work on your own initiative
  • Possess good numeric & computer skills
  • Have good organisations skills – due to the immense amount of information to process on a daily basis
  • Be a people person, have effective interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate clearly.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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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. These systems include hot and cold water systems, sanitary services, heating systems and pipework and controls for gas supply.

Donal Kane, Plumber & Construction Supervisor, Leo Lynch Engineering Contractors.

The 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.

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
Note: Experience has shown that higher grades of entry than those suggested by SOLAS are preferred for certain apprenticeships, due to the technical nature of the trade.  

Employers typically seek applicants who have completed Leaving Cert including Maths (with at least a grade O5 (grade C3 pre-2017) in Ordinary Level Maths) and preferably Physics.

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.

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

  • 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 Click here or contact your local ETB Training Centre.

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 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 

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
Note: Experience has shown that higher grades of entry than those suggested by SOLAS are preferred for certain apprenticeships, due to the technical nature of the trade. 

Employers typically seek applicants who have completed Leaving Cert including Maths (with at least a grade O5 (grade C3 pre-2017) in Ordinary Level Maths) and preferably 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.

Career Opportunities header image

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

Where apprentices and craftspersons have the necessary ability, initiative and basic qualifications, 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 craftspersons use their apprenticeship qualification as a platform to launch careers such as engineers, managers, owners of businesses, teachers and instructors amongst others.

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

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

Occupation Profile header image

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Progression Routes header image

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