Retraining to Boiler Engineer - any advice ?

Sorry to see so much negativity from the 'professionals'!

I went solo after redundancy and disallusion, from working for a consultant engineer back in 2002 having been a 'real' engineer for 30 years. That is professionally qualified with a MSc in engineering not a pipe bender!.

I decided that as I found it incredibly difficult to find reliable and competent boiler engineers for my own oil boiler that there was a market for someone who knew what they were doing and who didn't rip-off the customers.

I went on various manufacturers' courses and took the OFTEC accreditation to 'qualify' as a oil fired boiler service and repair engineer.

Starting off was difficult but getting on the books of a number of manufacturers helped, particularly the oil fired cooker brigade such as Aga, Rayburn and Alpha (now defunct I think) as well as local advertising which pulled in a backbone of customers who said how refreshing it was to deal with someone who 'knew what they were doing and didn't rip them off!

I learnt something everyday and fault finding to cure failures was most satisfying as I used my intellegence to solve the problems.

I earnt a good honest wage and targetted about £200per day to cover my wages and overheads - van, insurance, expenses, etc. It was a good steady earner but I could also plan days off as I wanted them and never started before 0930 and was always finished by 1630 except for call-outs which I never declined as one satisfied customer leads to another.

I would still be doing it today but for a heart infection and cardiac surgery which took 3 years to overcome but I look back on it and realise that I did it for myself and was successful.

Ignore those who try to put you off and get yourself qualified. Include oil or gas qualifications as you see fit but bear in mind the cost of each (oil is cheaper particularly through a manufacture not training establishment who subsidise registration or did) and the availability of sufficient work, ie gas or oil or both, and also Part P electrical which has become essential. If you live out in the sticks go oil!

Go for it! It is truly satisfying working for yourself.....especially banking those cheques at the end of the week!
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No wonder prices are dropping in our area.


I'm sure prices are not dropping because of me - one plumber twiddling his thumbs much of the last year. A few years ago one could not get a plumber because they were all too busy and I'm sure the sudden change is not because of new entrants to the trade - surely not enough colleges to chuck that sort of number out. Some of the reasons I chose plumbing were to do with the negative, unfriendly, overpriced plumbers I had the pleasure of having to let into my house. I know not all are like this but I really struggled to find a plumber who was professional. Do you not think that these people deserve to be usurped by others with a more professional attitude?

I have Part P limited scope which does permit me to complete this work, and test and therefore issue certs. I actually choose to use the services of a local electrician who is glad of the business I forward to him. An aside... how many experienced electricians actually issue these certificates on every job? I asked one and he said "only if the householder asks for one". Time to research the truth on this subject maybe as my research was a poll of one lol.

Re prices dropping. If "long" experience has a value then customers will recognise this and the plumber with that lengthy experience will prosper. What you cannot argue is that a newcomer cannot do a good job but, in the same breath say that customers are choosing the newcomers over you - they either can do the job or cannot and they certainly will be short of work or give up/go bust if they continually do a poor job. At the end of the day what is your selling proposition? What makes you different from the college leaver? More importantly what is the benefit to the customer and what is it worth per hour?

As to "You are not doing yourself or other installers any favour". What does this mean? I am doing myself a favour as I am earning a living and enjoying doing so. I am not doing other installers a favour of course not - surely my goal as a plumber is not to make all the other plumbers happy? Please explain your meaning...

Too many level 2's? What you are saying is that these level 2's are stealing your work by undercutting and are successful enough to be succeeding. What does this say about what you are offering? Are you sure this is the case or perhaps it is just a fear? Maybe it's the credit crunch?

No, not college. The fact is though that this is irrelevant. One either can or cannot do the job, at a price and quality that the customer is happy with. That is what matters. Marketing: offering a product or service that fulfills the customers needs and at a desirable profit.

"Most large and well established businesses are struggling!" That's a very broad statement. Tough times I know but plenty of large businesses are doing very well. You have no knowledge even of the market I would wish to enter... solar heating, computerised TRV monitoring devices, inhibitor at £1 a bottle or a range of radiators that have a drain plug on the rad itself. Made these up of course but should one never start a business because some merchant of doom says "look around you... struggling... let's all not bother lads...".

Are there any circumstances where you would accept that somebody new deserves to trade? Perhaps you suggest "after 5 years of training and in the first year just make the coffee and in year two you can touch some copper pipe". That's how it used to be apparently. But that's no decider of quality. I come back to the main point: either one can do a quality job at a price the customer agrees with or one cannot. All the negative thoughts and eye rolls and put me downs cannot change that fact.

I was going to give you a lengthy reply, but having looked over your previous posts, its obvious you are far from being a competent plumber.

Also its rather obvious that you have no knowledge of advance plumbing.
Using forums to sort out basic plumbing tasks will not give you experience.

ps Why are you playing with G3 cylinder.

Opposite of Indian comes to mind.
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Best advice I can give you about this: keep your money in your pocket. The whole building industry is suffering more than anyone can remember.
You are better off learning polish and do cowboy jobs as the market will be looking a lot for bottom end prices
Everybody has to start somewhere. I do not profess to have advance skills - just content doing basic plumbing. Anyway, I do respect the huge amount of knowledge that some plumbers have and I will continue to slowly improve my own skills.
Goldspoon you are delusional. The building trades are now overstaffed, there is not enough work around and the market is flooded with ex double glazing salesmen, factory workers and failures from every other industry/profession.

You will certainly get a rude awakening. . . . .
To add to dm's comments which are all too true, anybody starting his own business in any trade and especially anything to do with construction, you will need to have a serious amount of money to spend on advertising.
Unless you can spend thousands on getting your name out, you simply will not get the work.
The whole point at the moment is: every day between one and two thousand people on average loose their job and they will not be spending a penny more than they need. Those who still have their job can see the writing on the wall and guard what they have.
House building is the lowest in decades, house prices keep falling and the only people who can get credit are those who don't need it.
Personally, I wish everybody who has the courage to start today the best of luck and they have my complete respect. Unfortunately even a lot of very good engineers with lots of training and lots of experience find themselves short of work and starters without a lot of cash behind them will simply not have enough to compete.
Right all you need is a big belly ,white socks ,a comb over ,odd shaped boots ,attitude ,12 inch biceps ,and you need to attend all merchant holidays ,nights out in the freebie clothes ,jackets given to you free with every boiler and you may just have a chance of making it .

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