For many school leavers, earning enough money to afford a nice holiday and enjoy nights out with your mates, seems like a tempting, but distant dream.
The toss-up between diving headlong into employment, heading to university or picking a vocational course to go on can be a tough decision when you’re just 16 or 18 and starting out in your career.
But if you’re good at problem solving, like a bit of maths and enjoy meeting people, an apprenticeship in gas and heating engineering could be a brilliant choice.
And the rewards are pretty decent too.
According to online recruitment agency Adzuna, the average gas engineer wage in the UK today is £41,562. While you might not start out on that salary, it’s clear getting qualified via an apprenticeship and working in the gas engineering industry offers a lot of long-term career opportunities.
One of the sweetest things about apprenticeships is that you get paid. You literally earn while you learn, and gas engineering apprenticeship wages can be around £15,000 a year on some apprenticeships. After that, average starting salaries for qualified gas engineers are usually around £20,000 a year, according to CV Library, rising very quickly to £31,850. And once you’ve passed all your external qualifications, racked-up some serious experience under the watchful eye of a careful mentor, you can expect to earn up to around £60,000 a year in the future.
When you’ve been working at that level for a few years, there is the option of launching your own gas engineering business, a step that could potentially take wages even higher than that. By running your own gas engineering business, you could find that you turn over more than £250,000 a year.
No one’s denying it’s hard work and the hours can be long. But typical earnings are easily more than 20% higher than the national average wage of £34,261 early on in your career. What’s not to like?
And everyone needs a heating engineer, right?
Have you got what it takes to be a gas engineer?
Gas engineers are ensuring the UK’s homes are warm and safe places to live. That’s quite a big responsibility, so it’s important to make sure you’ve got what it takes to be a gas engineering apprentice.
Top 7 qualities you need to be a gas engineer apprentice:
- Believe it or not, when you’re on the front line, a friendly face and good customer service is what people need to see when they’re allowing a stranger into their home. They need to trust you.
- Problem solving. Do you like puzzles and quizzes? Often, you’ll be faced with a scenario where you’ve got to diagnose what is wrong with the heating system from a number of options.
- Maths and science. Having a good standard in these subjects really helps.
- Time management. Being on time and keeping a track of time is essential.
- Do you like working with your hands and your head? You need to be able to do both.
- Being on your feet, moving heavy equipment and long hours mean you have to be agile to do this job.
- Attention to detail. You can’t just try it and hope for the best. You have to be on the money, every time. No bad days.
How do you get qualified as a gas engineer and how long does it take?
To be a gas engineer and start earning good money, you must have a high standard of industry qualifications in:
- Gas installation
- Gas maintenance
- Gas utilisation
- Emergency plumbing and heating
- Appliance pathway routes
You also need to be gas safe registered.
The best place to start is by finding an apprenticeship. To be able to work as a qualified gas engineer will typically mean taking a Level 3 Diploma in gas engineering which involves 18 months, split between learning new skills and safety knowledge in a registered apprenticeship training centre, while learning on the job with an employer or mentor. It’s putting what you learn in the classroom into practice that really makes all the difference.
You can look at the kind of training schedule you might experience by looking at this example heating engineer apprenticeship training roadmap.
A good place to start looking for an apprenticeship is on the Government website: Find an Apprenticeship.
For the time you study for a gas engineering adult apprenticeship, you will be paid as you learn. Typically, this will be around £15,000 a year (although this depends on a number of different factors), but all your training costs are covered by your employer with Government incentives. Once you have qualified, you will quickly see that figure increase.
How much work is there for a qualified gas engineer?
Loads. At the moment there is a huge demand for trades skills in the UK. And this is only set to increase enormously. According the UK Domestic Trades Skills Index from the HomeServe Foundation, home repairs and improvements work is expected to increase by 37% by 2030.
This increase is down to an expected boost in housebuilding, an upturn in spending on home improvements and a move towards greener energy solutions.
Around 20% of greenhouse gas emissions come from domestic housing in the UK.
The UN reported recently that climate change is ‘widespread and intensifying’, and UK policy makers here have identified home repairs, including plumbing and heating, as one of six ‘priority’ sectors that will be part of the fight to hold back damaging environmental shifts.
The Green Jobs Taskforce, a report looking into future skills needed to reach Net Zero, earmarked the trades and construction sectors as one of the areas most likely to see growth over the next three decades.
A gas engineer is a job for life
Once you’ve got started in a role and picked up plenty of experience, there are lots of ways to increase the amount of work coming into the business you’re employed by. Getting the word out there via online peer-rated marketplaces like Checkatrade means there will never be a shortage of work. Or, you can start your own business.
Dylan Jones was a gas apprentice before going on to start his own business, called Ongas, in Nottingham. He is now growing his own team through apprenticeships and has brought in 16-year-old Ben Coyle. Ben is studying for a Level 3 gas engineering apprenticeship at the Apprenticeship Academy.
Dylan said: “Ben is already a huge asset to Ongas and a real part of the team, and this apprenticeship will allow him to get the qualifications he needs, whilst also giving him real life, on the job experience – which is invaluable within the trades sectors.”
Are you ready to get started on your training as a gas engineer?
If you think a career as a gas engineer is for you, get in touch with the Apprenticeship Academy by calling 0115 697 7177 for some friendly advice. We’ll be able to help you get to the next step in your career as a gas engineer.