How to Become A Plumber In South Africa

A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for potable water, and for sewage and drainage in plumbing systems.

What is the role of a plumber?

A plumber is responsible for installing and repairing water systems in residential or commercial buildings. Duties include studying and analyzing blueprints and drawings to identify plumbing and water supply systems to assemble and install products without interfering with existing infrastructure.

Why is a plumber called a plumber?

More than 1000 years ago, the Romans built water channels that carried water from the mountains into the city, which distributed it through underground supply lines made of lead. That is where the term ‘Plumbing’ originated, as ‘Plumus’ in Latin means Lead.

Do plumbers have to deal with poop?

UNLESS THEY’RE COVERED IN POOP. WHICH HAPPENS A LOT. Cleaning out drains means getting rid of waste clogs backing up the line, and they have to go somewhere. If a plumber is stationed at a point of poop access, odds are he’s going to get hit.

Below are steps to Become A Plumber In South Africa

Step 1: Set your foundation for education

Earning your high school diploma or equivalent, such as a GED, is your first step on the path to becoming a professional plumber. Having a basic knowledge of reading, writing, science and math are critical to pursuing any career in the pro trade industry.

For plumbers, having an advanced knowledge of math and science are absolutely necessary since the work often involves making accurate measurements and gauging water. Areas of your high school or equivalent education that will benefit you as a plumber include:



Metric units of measure



Pro tip: Keep your record clean

In addition to earning your high school diploma or GED, other factors that can impact your plumbing career are your driving record, your criminal background and your ability to pass a drug test. Training programs and future employers might be deterred from working with you for safety and insurance reasons if you have:

DUIs or DWIs

Reckless driving convictions

An extensive number of moving violations

Certain misdemeanor offenses

Felony convictions of any kind

Failed a drug test

Step 2: Enroll in technical courses

Once you’ve earned your high school diploma or equivalent, the next step is to enroll in technical plumbing courses. Many states require a certain number of hours in the classroom in order to become a licensed plumber.

Technical course are offered by a variety of public and private schools and programs. Check out local community colleges, trade institutions, unions or professional plumbing associations for information about plumbing programs in your area. The curriculum will depend on your city or state’s requirements, but topics could include:

Pipe cutting and soldering

Draining and venting

Electrical basics

Water heating systems

Local plumbing codes

Step 3: Find an apprenticeship

Depending on where you live, you will likely be required to work alongside an experienced plumber as an apprentice for a certain number of hours.

The length of the apprenticeship will vary, but could take as long as two to five years. You might be able to complete your apprenticeship while you are enrolled in technical courses.

Step 4: Take the test

Certain areas will require you to pass a written exam, a practical test or both in order for you to earn your plumbing license. If testing is required in your area, you will likely have to take it once you have completed your technical courses and your apprenticeship program.

In general, you can expect the exam to be cumulative of what you learned on the job and in the classroom.

Training: How to Become a Plumber’s Apprentice
In South Africa

Regardless if you need to attend trade school, you will need to complete an apprenticeship program. An apprenticeship is a throwback to older ways of training and education.

The idea of the apprenticeship is that you, as a beginner, learn the trade from an expert (or multiple experts) in your field. These apprenticeship programs differ slightly based on the jurisdiction and trade, but typical apprenticeships outlined by the S.A Department of Labor run on average of 4-5 years.

As an apprentice, you will learn the skills necessary to work in the field of plumbing “on the job”. That means you work on real systems with real people, under the supervision of a Journeyman or Master Plumber.

The skills you learn will apply directly towards the goal of licensing. Depending on your apprenticeship program, you will most likely have to take classes that cover the skills necessary to pass your licensing test.  

A combination of local, state, and federal regulation boards, in conjunction with professional organizations and labor unions, decide on the requirements of your apprenticeship, so the details may differ from state to state. You will, however, receive an apprentice’s license that shows that you are in training.  

How do I become a licensed plumber in South Africa?

To fully qualify as a plumber, you need to take the industry Trade Test and then register with the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB). You will be able to train at an institution and get qualified. You will need to get your National Certificate (Vocational) in Building and Construction: Plumbing.

How much is a plumbing course in South Africa?

The Basic Plumbing Course is an 8 day theoretical course with some basic practical elements.

PCD Plumbing School offers Basic Plumbing Courses :

Duration:+/-2 Weeks
Course Fees:R 7 400 (Course only)
R 3 600 (Accommodation + 3 meals per day included)

How long does it take to become a qualified plumber?

Training to become a plumber can vary depending on the options that you take. A traditional apprenticeship will take up to four years, whilst a fast track plumbing course can last anywhere between 4 – 16 weeks.

Where can I study to become a plumber in South Africa?


False Bay TVET College. National Certificate: N1-N3.

SA Plumbing Trade School. Basic and Advanced Courses: Plumbing.

Eastcape Training Centre. Apprenticeships: Plumbing.

Northlink College. Courses: Plumbing.

How much does a qualified plumber earn in South Africa?

“A mid-career plumber with 5-9 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R159,000 based on 17 salaries. An experienced plumber with 10-19 years of experience earns an average total compensation of R195,500 based on 22 salaries.”

Can you be a plumber without qualifications?

Most plumbers who do domestic work should be qualified to NVQ level 2 standard, which is roughly equivalent to an A level. NVQ training is typically done on the job, with the plumber starting off with simple jobs while studying at college in the evening or on a day release programme.

What subjects are needed to become a plumber in South Africa?

How to Become a Plumber in South Africa

Minimum requirements: Grade 9 with mathematics. Candidate must be 16 years and older.

Minimum requirements: 3 years plumbing experience plus 19 years and older.

Plumbers have no comebacks when they fit hansgrohe tap and shower mixers with EcoSmart technology.

How long is a plumbing course at college?

2 year

This 2 year plumbing course is perfect for those who do not currently work within the Plumbing Industry but who are looking to start or change their career. It is a package of qualifications designed to provide learners with a fantastic understanding of all aspects of plumbing.

How much does a plumber earn per hour in South Africa?

Plumbing Jobs by Hourly Rate

Job TitleRangeAverage
Job Title:PlumberRange:R22 – R121Average:R46
HandymanRange:R23 – R151Average:R51
Maintenance and Repair Worker, GeneralRange:R15 – R71Average:R29
Apprentice PlumberRange:R12 – R116Average:R21

Is it hard to become a plumber?

Becoming a plumber isn’t as difficult as you think! There are numerous pathways and options for study; however, the best way to start your career as a qualified plumber is to complete your plumbing apprenticeship often offered by trade schools. You can also undertake a carpentry apprenticeship at trade school too.