Plumbers install water, gas and waste disposal systems in homes, factories and other buildings.

When installing new systems or modernising old ones, plumbers take measurements and make drawings to show where pipes will connect with outside lines and where fixtures will be placed. They then measure, bend, cut and thread pipes according to the drawings. Pipes are joined by bolting, brazing, gluing, screwing or soldering them together.

In some cases, plumbers also repair roof gutters. When doing repair or maintenance work, plumbers must locate the cause of problems and replace broken or worn out valves and clear pipes and waste traps. Qualified plumbers may own their own businesses and employ and supervise other plumbers.

Plumbers may work at considerable heights on the upper floors of office buildings under construction, or in old, dark and damp basements in need of drain repairs. The actual setting depends on the type of work, the type of employer and the skill and experience of the plumber. Overtime and night emergency work are sometimes required.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 9 Certificate
Some employers prefer higher qualifications

What to Study

Diploma: Some universities of technology

Certificate: most TVET colleges, e.g. Northlink and Umgungundlovu

If you want to become a plumber you need to register with an employer providing suitable training.

Stage 1: It is recommended that the trainee plumber attend an accredited Technical Training College to obtain an N2 certificate in Building Science and Plumbing Theory.

Stage 2: The student will complete the 46 Practical Plumbing Training modules at an accredited Training College. This will take approximately 12 weeks depending on the skills and ability of the trainee.

Stage 3: The trainee plumber shall complete a minimum of 18 months on-site training under the direct supervision of a qualified plumber. This is a mandatory requirement to become eligible to take the Industry Trade Test.


  • plumbing and pipe-fitting contractors engaged in constructing new buildings
  • plumbing contractors who do repair, alteration or modernisation work
  • government departments
  • public utilities
  • shipbuilding or aircraft construction companies
  • self-employment, with enough experience, can practise this trade on a private basis or start own business

Further Information

The Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA)
P O Box 1351
Roosevelt Park, 2129
Tel: (011) 477-4563 Fax: (011) 477-4520

Getting Started

  • learn to do small repair jobs around your home
  • try to obtain holiday or part-time work in a hardware store to become familiar with the tools and equipment used by plumbers
  • try to obtain holiday or part time work as a plumber’s helper
  • consult the Registrar of Manpower Training concerning learnership programmes that may be available in your area.

Programmes by Study Institutions


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