Plumbers and gas engineers are in exceedingly high demand, and the UK is struggling with a skills shortage in the trade industry. With more homes in the UK using gas than ever before, there is a desperate need for more gas safe engineers.
If you are good with your hands and enjoy fixing things, a career as a gas engineer could be for you.
Whether you are fresh out of school or college or simply looking for a career change, becoming a gas engineer is a challenging but rewarding path, with plenty to learn along the way.
Because of the nature of the work, being a qualified gas engineer in the UK requires you to be on the gas safe register. This ensures the safety of the public, as working with highly flammable systems comes with huge risks, so it is imperative that all engineers are highly trained!
Before you can apply to be on the gas safe register however, the law states that you must have some industry experience under your belt.
This can be achieved in several ways and there are several routes towards becoming a qualified gas engineer. One of the most common routes is to obtain work experience with a registered gas engineer or company. All new entrants into the industry must acquire six months on-the-job training before they can sit a formal Gas Training Assessment.
Gas Heating Engineer Apprenticeships
Getting employed by a professional company as an apprentice is usually a good way to get started in the industry. This will provide you with important hands on training whilst also studying the fundamentals of the industry.
Once you are employed by a professional gas company, you can apply to study a Gas Assessment Training (ACS) certification. This involves someone assessing your skills and experience to prove you have the qualifications to safely work on gas or heating systems.
You’ll need to have four GCSE’s (or equivalent) from A* to C grades including maths, English and two other relevant subjects such as engineering, Science or Technology.
It normally includes one or two days a week at college, with the rest of the week spent on the job assisting a gas engineer on site.
Apprenticeships can last anywhere up to 3 years. Usually this is due to the amount of training required and the importance placed on the safety aspect of the job. Gas safety is a technical profession that requires adherence to safety procedures and constant learning.
Key Skills For A Gas Safety Engineer
As being a gas engineer is a practical and customer facing job, having great practical skills and being friendly, responsible and understanding of the customers issues is important.
Attention to detail and a passion to provide a safe and reliable service are crucial due to the dangerous nature of working with highly flammable materials.
Typical duties for a gas engineer may include:
- Installing or repairing appliances to a safe standard
- Maintaining or replacing faulty systems
- Cutting, bending and joining pipes and fittings
- Carrying out safety tests, checking for gas leaks and ensuring appliances and fittings meet safety standards
Although some apprenticeships can take up to 3 years before you become qualified, there are alternative options out there.
Some companies offer intensive training courses, focusing on training people to be fully qualified in weeks rather than years. These are for people who don’t necessarily have any relevant experience or training but want to get into the industry.
ACS Gas Scheme
Offering in-depth training courses on gas safety and practice, The Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) gas scheme provides the practical skills that will bring an individual to the correct level to undertake the gas ACS training and assessment – a prerequisite of becoming a Gas Safe Registered Engineer.
This scheme will help train you in many aspects of commercial and domestic gas safety including.
Gas Safe Register
Anyone carrying out gas work in the UK, Isle of Man and Guernsey must be registered with the Gas Safe Register according to the Gas Safety (Installation and use) Regulations act 1998.
Once you are a registered gas safe engineer you will receive a Gas Safe Register ID card.
We would recommend that anyone using a gas engineer asks to see their Gas Safe Register ID card to ensure complete safety in your home. As a gas safe engineer we recommend showing your gas safe register ID card to customers, it not only adds a level of professionalism, but it can also help customers to report fraudulent gas engineers in the future.
How Much Does It Cost?
Intensive Gas Training Course
For those with no previous transferable experience, the cost is quite considerable, with many offering the intensive courses for around £5,000. For those with transferable skills such as plumbers, pipe fitters or similar trades, the cost is considerably less at £1,500.
If you are deciding to go down this route, ensure you choose a reputable company that is recognised in the industry. When you are paying large amounts of money for training, you want to ensure it is the right training. Choose a course that offers additional support, for example an organisation that offers help to gain experience with relevant companies.
Apprenticeships & Pay Rates
Apprenticeships or on the job learning mean that in some cases employers or government grants can help cover the cost of training while individuals can gain valuable skills at the same time.
Apprentices aged over 19 will be entitled to a minimum rate of £4.15 (as of 2020)
Apprentices over the age of 19 who have completed the first year of their apprenticeship are entitled to the national minimum wage.
Is It Right For Me?
One of the most important parts of the job is the practical element. It is a skilled trade and having a natural aptitude for solving practical problems with your hands is key. Many people enjoy the practical and problem solving element of the work, having their skills constantly tested and being able to learn new things.
What Does An Average Day Look Like For A Gas Engineer?
Often being a gas engineer involves long days of manual work, with hours normally between 8am-6pm.
Some gas firms will offer a 24 hour callout service, so in some cases employees may be asked to cover night shifts, but this is not always the case.
It is such a varied field, there are even options to work on specialist machinery and even oil rigs.
What Are The Negatives Of Being A Gas Engineer?
Obviously this is a labour intensive job so often involves working in lots of tight, confined spaces where boilers are located, so it is a good idea to bring a cushion to look after your knees.
It does require a lot of commitment and learning, and the law ensures that you will need to be an expert in your field before you can become gas registered.
Every job has its downsides and no career is 100% perfect, but if you are someone that genuinely enjoys the practical side of the job and finds travelling to different locations and fixing things stimulating, the positives will definitely outweigh the negatives.
Benefits of working as a Gas Engineer
A huge one is not having to pay enormous callouts to have someone fix your own boiler; as a fully qualified gas safe registered engineer, you will be able to do this yourself!
Company vehicle – Many companies provide a company vehicle and all the necessary tools you will need to carry out jobs.
Getting out – If you are someone who enjoys being out and about meeting people and solving problems, this could be the career for you.
Varied work day – As a gas engineer every day will be different, and there is no telling where you could be called out to. You could be working in homes, hospitals, skyscrapers etc, the list of domestic and commercial buildings is endless.
This really depends on you as an individual, you could have the opportunity to be your own boss, or work your way up through a company, gaining skills and experience in the industry. You could even switch sectors, privately ensuring the safety of boilers in the home, providing gas safety certificates for government buildings or even working on some larger scale industrial projects.
Although the initial training and development stage of being a gas safety engineer can be tough, the opportunity to learn practical skills and training can be immensely rewarding. For the practical minded people looking for a challenging but rewarding job that gets them out and about fixing problems, this could be the career for you.
T.B. Mackay Energy Service – Gas Safety Experts
If you are looking for a reputable gas safe company with highly trained heating engineers, look no further than TB Mackay Energy Services. Providing skilled gas safety technicians proficient in servicing, repair and maintenance of boilers for domestic and commercial clients. Get in touch with us today if you require gas safe services for your home or business. We also provide a range of plumbing, electrical, joinery and renewable energy services for commercial and domestic businesses across Scotland. Alternatively, if you wish to start a career with a long established plumbing, heating and trade company contact us to see what opportunities we have available.