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Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 25,001 to 50,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief A knack for problem solving, common sense and the ability to work unsupervised will all come in handy for people planning to work in plumbing or a related trade area.

There are currently around 3,300 plumbers employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the construction industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a slightly younger age profile with only around a third of plumbers aged 45 years or older.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Plumber

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Plumbers install, maintain and repair pipe systems made from a range of materials to help rid us of pesky leaks and blocked drainage systems. This group of trades persons comprises a number of specialised areas, including plumbers, gas fitters, roof plumbers, drainers, fire protection workers and irrigation installers.

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Education Requirements

Of those currently employed 79% have completed Certificate III or Certificate IV and 18% have no post school qualifications. In order for you to have the best possible chance of finding employment it is recommended that you gain the available qualifications.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Dual Certificate II Program in Construction Pathways (Plumbing and Roof Plumbing) and Certificate II & III in Water Operations.

SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Career Path

Job opportunities in the plumbing industry is usually through small firms or self-employment. Employment is also possible with federal, or state and territory government departments concerned with public works. Plumbers are involved in everything from domestic maintenance to high-rise construction.

With further training and experience, plumbers can become technical and sales representatives, building supervisors, building and construction managers, plumbing inspectors, hydraulics consultants, technical teachers, estimators, building contract administrators, purchasing officers or start their own business.

Demand is linked with activity in the construction industry. However, unlike other building trades, downturns in building activity have less effect on plumbers because of the work available in renovation and maintenance. Demand is also more stable because, by law, certain jobs must be performed by plumbers.

South Australian employers have reported experiencing shortages for this occupation.


Construction,  Electricity, Gas and Water Supply


Steven Kohl – Plumbing
'I did a course at school that led straight into the plumbing course at TAFE'.
Steven discovered his interest in plumbing after realising that the type of work involved in the industry linked directly to the subjects he was interested in at school. 'I enjoyed metal work and technology subjects at school,' he said, ' and plumbing involved everything.'

Steven chose to study at TAFE SA after completing a VET in Schools course. 'I did a course at school that led straight into the plumbing course at TAFE SA,' he said. 'It was something to do, and I liked it. It helped me to know that plumbing was what I wanted to do.'

Steven completed the Pre Vocational course a year ago, and is now working as an apprentice within industry. 'I’m a year ahead. I’ve been working in plumbing for a year now and have almost finished my training,' he said. Over the next three years Steven also plans to complete his Contractors License.

TAFE turned out to be a positive experience that was a lot less like school than Steven had expected. 'It was different and more relaxed than school,' he said. 'The teachers treat you like adults and it’s like an open class, which makes it easier to learn.'

Nature of the Job

All plumbers undertake the common tasks of drawing, interpreting and installing piping layouts, and the maintenance and repair of piping systems, although there are different levels of complexity across the specialisations. There are also differences in the type of pipe system and fixtures used. For example, plumbers deal with general water systems and fixtures, including sprinkler systems, basins and toilets, while gas fitters work with gas lines and gas related appliances, including hot water systems and space heating systems.

Drainers deal with sewerage and drain water piping systems, which include septic tanks, whereas roof plumbers deal primarily with the guttering systems of buildings. The installation, maintenance and repair of sprinkler systems and fire detection equipment is the task of fire protection workers. Irrigation installers design, install and maintain reticulation systems ranging from small areas such as residential gardens, to large areas like golf courses.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Plumbers and related workers need to be reasonably fit as this type of work can be physically demanding. To enjoy working in these occupations, you will also need to be good with your hands and able to tackle practical problems. One local plumber says, 'The opportunity to work outdoors and to choose from such a wide range of specialist areas, and other advantages such as the opportunity to make good money is what people can look forward to.'

Typical Occupational Example

Plumbers and related workers find employment with small contracting firms and in large plumbing firms, however, self employment opportunities, after considerable training in small business management are also possible. If this is the path you're hoping to follow, it would be wise to hone your business acumen skills now. A preparedness to keep abreast of changes in the industry will also help you keep up with your competitors. You'll need to be licensed with the Office of Water Regulation to work as a self employed plumber, or the Office of Energy if you are a gas fitter. Opportunities for advancement to supervisory positions also exist in these trade related occupations.

For further information, contact:

Plumbing Industry Association (SA)
12-22 Richmond road Keswick SA 5035
Ph: (08) 8292 4000
Fax: (08) 8292 4040

Housing Industry Association (SA/NT)
PO Box 139 Hindmarsh SA 5007
Ph: (08) 8340 5900
Fax: (08) 8340 5992

Master Builders Association of South Australia Inc
PO Box 10014 Adelaide BC SA 5000
Ph: 1800 067 466 or (08) 8211 7466
Fax: (08) 8231 5240

Earning Potential

The starting annual salary for one of these qualified trades person is about $35,000, which can increase to $60,000 plus a year or higher for those in supervisory positions or who operate their own business.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online