Hospitals, health centres and other healthcare buildings need reliable hot and cold water supplies, drainage, heating and ventilation systems. Within NHSScotland, Plumbers ensure these essential services are safe and well maintained.

Plumbers work on the maintenance, repair and installation of heating, water and sanitation systems into NHSScotland buildings. They may work on their own, with other Plumbers or with a team from the other technical or building trades, depending on the job.

They may move around on a hospital site as needed and work normal hours as required, but might sometimes be on call in case of emergency.

As a Plumber, your tasks would normally include:

  • installing new heating systems
  • planned maintenance work and testing of existing systems to ensure they are in good working order
  • finding and repairing faults, such as water leaks, blocked drains and boiler breakdowns

Useful skills include:

  • practical skills
  • be able to understand technical drawings and plans

Relevant interests:

  • an interest in craft or working with your hands

Useful abilities include:

  • an ability to solve problems
  • a willingness to carry out unpleasant tasks
  • a good head for heights and physical strength to carry metal piping and other materials
  • work carefully and methodically
  • work alone or as part of a team with other tradespeople

Plumbers are qualified and so will normally need to have an SVQ3 in Plumbing and Heating at SCQF level 7 or an HNC as a Building Services Engineer to join the NHS in Scotland as a Plumber.

Another way into a job as a Plumber in NHSScotland is through a Modern Apprenticeship.

Modern Apprenticeships offer those aged over 16 paid employment with the opportunity to train for jobs at craft, technician and management level.

Modern Apprenticeships in Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration at SCQF Level 6 or Plumbing at SCQF Level 7 are frameworks for people interested in working in estates services as a plumber. Find out more about these Modern Apprenticeships on the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) website:

Healthcare Support (Non-clinical) at SCQF Level 6 and SCQF Level 7 is another framework for people interested in working in a healthcare setting in a non-clinical support role. For more information about this Modern Apprenticeship framework, look at:

You will be helped and encouraged to develop your career as a Plumber in NHSScotland.

Once employed, NHSScotland encourages staff to study Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).

Look on the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) website to find the full range of qualifications on offer for staff working in estates and grounds services.

Career pathways

Gaining new qualifications will help your career prospects, leading to more senior roles with a greater level of responsibility.

With further experience and qualifications, you could progress to a role as a Technician, Estates Officer or Senior Estates Officer. The head of the team is the Head of Estates and manages a whole team of staff.

Learn more about the NHSScotland Estates and Facilities career pathways.