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Official trade qualifications in the UK

If you’re ready to start your own business or want to upskill, we’re here to help. Discover the most common trade qualifications in the UK.

Now is a great time to be a tradesperson in the UK. Because becoming a qualified tradesperson has never been more accessible.

Getting official trade qualifications sets you up with the right skills to do the job well. Plus, it shows potential customers that you’re dedicated to your trade.

gas engineer qualifications

Types of trade qualifications in the UK

There are hundreds of different courses and qualifications for tradespeople in the UK. The one you train in will depend on the trade you choose, and the specialism you want to explore.

The most common trade qualifications in the UK

Apprenticeship

Being a trade apprentice is one of the most common starting points for many tradespeople.

Apprenticeships combine practical on-the-job training with studying. So, you’ll be paid a wage and work alongside experienced tradespeople. And this will help you gain practical skills!

Diploma

A diploma provides formal training for you to learn and develop new skills, and put them into practice.

Diplomas usually last 6 weeks. These are a great first step for starting your career as a tradesperson.

NVQ/SVQ

NVQ/SVQs are vocational qualifications that demonstrate your existing working knowledge and skills.

You generally need to have basic knowledge of your trade to begin an NVQ/SVQ. So, you might need to complete another course first. But this will depend on your trade and the specific NVQ/SVQ requirements.

Short course certificates

As well as formal qualifications, there are many short, intensive practical training courses. These are typically designed to cover specific areas of trade work.

Short courses can be good as part of your initial training as a tradesperson. Or to further expand your knowledge in a specialist area of your trade.

Benefits of trade qualifications

There are many reasons why getting official trade qualifications is a smart move:

Boost your credibility

Being qualified shows potential customers you have the skills to do the job properly.

Make yourself more employable

Having relevant trade qualifications makes you more attractive to employers.

Gain confidence

Through training, you’ll develop skills and gain experience that will give you added confidence in your work.

Win more work

Qualified tradespeople tend to win more work and get paid more than unqualified workers.

Meet the requirements

For certain types of trade work, such as gas engineering or electrical installations, it’s a legal requirement to have specific qualifications.

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Trade apprenticeships in the UK

Am I too old to become a tradesperson?

No! The majority of tradespeople start their career between the ages of 16 and 24. But that’s not the case for everyone.

Changing careers has become very common. And many workers are learning a trade in their 30s and 40s.

If you’re thinking of learning a trade as a mature worker, choose a trade that you’ll enjoy. And one that you’ll be well suited to, physically.

What trade qualifications do I need?

The exact qualifications you need will depend on the trade you’re working in and the exact type of work you want to carry out. Some trades don’t have any formal requirements, but others will require you to have certain qualifications to carry out work in that field.

One important point to remember is that becoming a qualified tradesperson takes time. But through trade training courses and official qualifications, you’ll gain skills, experience and confidence that will make you a highly competent tradesperson.

We’d also recommend speaking to local trade training centres. Also, find out more about training courses alongside trade qualifications available in your area.

Alternatively, get in touch with one of our training partners:

What trade qualifications do I need?

The trade qualifications you’ll need depend on the trade you’re working in. As well as the exact type of work you want to carry out.

Some trades don’t have any formal requirements. But others will require you to have certain qualifications to carry out work in that field.

One important point to remember is that becoming a qualified tradesperson takes time.

Through training courses, and gaining official trade qualifications, you’ll get the experience and confidence you need. All of which will make you a highly competent tradesperson!

Which is the best trade to learn?

Choosing which trade to learn will depend on your interests and skills.

Some of the most popular tradespeople in the UK are:

  • Builders
  • Roofers
  • Plumbers
  • Electricians
  • Carpenters
  • Painter and decorators

Trade qualifications to become a builder

Many builders with trade qualifications in the UK once started their careers in entry-level roles. Or, as an apprentice where they’d learn on the job.

However, many construction companies will ask for a good standard of education, too. This includes GCSEs (A-D) in maths and English.

These are the trade qualifications needed to work in the construction industry:

  • Construction NVQ
  • Construction Health and Safety course
  • CPCS card (Construction Plant Competence Scheme)
  • Site Supervision Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
  • Asbestos Awareness certification

Also, most building sites in the UK will require you to hold a CSCS Card (Construction Skills Certificate Scheme).

This is to ensure on-site safety and compliance standards. So, bear this in mind.

Trade qualifications to become a plumber

The minimum qualification to become a plumber in the UK is the City & Guilds 6035 Level 2 Diploma in Domestic Plumbing.

Other plumbing qualifications include:

  • Level 2 and Level 3 Diploma in Plumbing and Domestic Heating
  • T level for Plumbing and Domestic Heating Technicians
  • Gas Safe registration
  • Asbestos Awareness certification

Trade qualifications to become an electrician

An apprenticeship scheme is one of the most common ways for electricians to start their careers.

It can take 2-4 years to become a fully qualified electrician in the UK.

You’ll need the following electrician trade qualifications:

  • Industry-recognised level 3 qualification
  • Level 3 Diploma in Electrical Installations (if part of an apprenticeship)
  • Asbestos Awareness certification

Fancy becoming an electrician? Light up your career and start a domestic electrician course.

Qualifications needed to become a painter or decorator

Wondering how to become a painter or decorator, or upskill in this trade? Well, there aren’t always strict trade qualifications required.

Practice makes perfect with this career path, but it is beneficial to take courses in painting and decorating before establishing your business.

But, if you’re working on building sites, you’ll need a Construction Skills Certificate Scheme card. So, bear this in mind.

These are some of the trade qualifications available in the UK for painters and decorators:

  • The choice of: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Wallpapering (City & Guilds)
  • NVQ in Painting and Decorating – Level 1
  • NVQ in Painting and Decorating – Level 2

Trade qualifications to become a roofer

How to get more roofing work

To become a roofer in the UK, an apprenticeship usually takes about 2 years to complete.

You’ll need the following trade qualifications to become a roofer:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Roof Slating and Tiling
  • Level 2 Diploma in Roofing Occupations
  • T level for Roofers
  • Asbestos Awareness certification

Renewable energy qualifications

The popularity of renewable energy, green homes and eco-friendly living has seen a huge boost in recent years.

That means having ‘green’ qualifications could give you a competitive edge in your trade. Especially when looking towards the future.

Renewable energy courses

Our training partner, Logic4Training, offers several renewable energy courses to help you future-proof your career as a tradesperson.

To become a roofer in the UK, an apprenticeship usually takes about 2 years to complete.

You’ll need the following trade qualifications to become a roofer:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Roof Slating and Tiling
  • Level 2 Diploma in Roofing Occupations
  • T level for Roofers
  • Asbestos Awareness certification

Green homes NVQs

Homeowners are becoming more conscious and enthusiastic about making their homes as energy-efficient and sustainable as possible.

And the government is now offering 100% funded Green Homes Grants for NVQ Level 2 assessments in:

  • Loft insulation
  • Underfloor insulation
  • External wall insulation
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • Cold/warm roof insulation
  • Draught-proofing
  • Internal wall insulation

Quick roundup

The best way to succeed as a tradesperson is to learn new skills or build on your existing experience. And gaining trade qualifications will help you get there!

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