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Independent resettlement & recruitment guide for serving Armed Forces & Veterans

Gas Installation and Maintenance

Gas Installation and Maintenance


15 Nov, 2022

A shortfall of qualified engineers means there’s never been a better time to pursue a career in this expanding sector …

What are the prospects in the gas industry?

The industry currently employs 224,000 people, 70% of them in skilled trades. However, according to Energy & Utilities Skills, the employer-led membership and standards-setting body for the sector, with most UK homes using gas boilers to keep warm and at least eight out of ten homes fuelled by natural gas, the gas industry needs to recruit an additional 75,000 employees by 2029.

Pursuing a career in the gas industry is a wise choice as it opens up a wide range of diverse opportunities. It’s a secure, regulated profession and you can be sure your skills will always be in demand.

Added to this, the national aim to achieve net zero by 2050 will lead to exciting opportunities to work with cutting-edge technology. Gas is key to the transition to a sustainable energy system, reducing the carbon footprint of home heating without compromising on the practicality and affordability required by the millions of people and businesses that rely on gas.

What do gas engineers do?

A gas service engineer (sometimes also referred to as a gas technician or installer) fits, repairs and maintains gas systems in all kinds of buildings. In a domestic setting, they will most usually find themselves working on central heating systems, including boilers, or gas appliances. The working environment might sometimes be at a height or cramped, and you may need to wear suitable protective clothing.

Take a look at the accompanying box, ‘The day job’, to get a better idea of what a regular day might look like.

Gas service engineers:
• install gas appliances and heating systems
• carry out routine maintenance and regular checks on systems and equipment
• test controls and safety devices to make sure they are working properly
• respond to emergencies, likely to include emergency callouts
• find and repair gas leaks, using computerised fault-finding equipment
• replace or repair faulty, worn or old parts
• complete work records
• advise home owners and businesses on gas safety and energy efficiency.

A typical working week is likely to be 41–43 hours and there’s the possibility you’ll find yourself working at evenings and weekends, and perhaps bank holidays too, depending on your shift rota if you’re employed – or maybe you’ll end up running your own business and/or offering emergency call-out services.

You could eventually move into a supervisory or management role, with responsibility for a team of engineers, or set up your own gas fitting business once you’ve accumulated enough experience.

Transfer your skills

Although there is little direct relationship between the utilities and the Armed Forces, many of the skills gained while in uniform, both general and specific, are perfectly suited to the roles for which employers in energy and utilities sectors – including gas – are recruiting. These might include the practical skills required for installing, repairing and maintaining equipment, analytical thinking skills, attention to detail and a thorough approach, the ability to use your initiative, an aptitude for problem solving, the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, patience, persistence and determination.

As you’re very likely to be working in a customer-facing role (both business and domestic), the above can be complemented by customer service skills. In addition, the ability to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device is also a plus.

An increasing number of employers are recognising the benefits ex-Forces employees can bring to their organisations. As noted above, a large number of transferable skills are likely to have been learned and demonstrated by ex-military employees in their former roles, which make them excellent candidates for positions in this sector. In particular, employers are keen to take advantage of people skills, technical expertise, and high levels of self-motivation and discipline.

How do I qualify as a gas engineer?

Resettlement training courses are available in some disciplines that are useful in the utilities sector, which of course includes gas. If possible, talk with people who are already working in the industry to establish a reasonable starting point based on their skills and experience, and then seek out the appropriate courses and training.

There are several routes to becoming a gas service installer/engineer. You could do a college course, an apprenticeship (see the accompanying apprenticeships box-out), on-the-job training, apply to an employer direct or have your experience assessed by a professional body. You will need to explore all of these routes to find out which one is right for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in recruiting people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions.

Everybody working on gas appliances or fittings as a business must be competent and registered with the Gas Safe Register (see below for full details).

If you already have experience in the gas industry or a related field, you may be able to follow the Nationally Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) route to registration, which will give you a recognised competency certificate. This will allow you to gain certificates of competence that are accepted by the Gas Safe Register. If you don’t have any relevant industry experience you may need to sign up for a more formal qualification, such as City & Guilds’ S/NVQ in Domestic Natural Gas Maintenance at level 3. (Don’t forget you can use your ELC to help fund qualifications at level 3 and above. There’s more info on this below.)

Competence can continue to be proven under the ACS through a distance-learning programme. ACS has a two-day core domestic gas safety assessment and a number of appliance assessments that take half a day each. It should take competent students five days to pass the full domestic suite of qualifications.

Energy & Utility Skills has developed a set of occupational standards and qualifications at levels 1 to 4. The aim is for qualifications to be as common as possible across industries so that qualified workers can have freedom of employment throughout the entire sector.

Relevant qualifications

As well as Gas Safe registration, it is becoming increasingly necessary to hold certifications of competence and/or training in particular skills in order to secure employment in the industry. Ambitious starters could begin by gaining vocational qualifications alongside working and go on to develop their skills through technical training.

To qualify fully as a gas service technician, you’ll need a recognised gas industry qualification such as a level 3 Diploma in Gas Utilisation Installation and Maintenance. You can take this as a college course; there’s also level 3 Diploma in Domestic Natural Gas Installation. (You may need to be working in order to complete these level 3 qualifications.) In addition, there’s a T Level Technical Qualification in Building Services Engineering for Construction, which includes relevant components. Such courses will teach you some of the skills you’ll need to apply for a trainee position with a company.

Learning on the job

As with many building-related trades, gas engineering skills can be learned on the job; the construction industry also has training schemes that combine work and education to result in qualifications you can build up over time to develop your expertise in a particular area. While one person might start by learning the basics of a trade and go on to become an expert in a particular part of it, another might build a portfolio in a number of skills to eventually qualify them for a supervisory/management role.

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site (see ‘Useful contacts’ below for contact details).

The Gas Safe Register

The law requires all gas engineers in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey to be listed on the Gas Safe Register in order to operate legally. You’ll need to renew your registration every year and demonstrate your ongoing competence in matters of gas safety every five years.

How to apply

You can either:

You’ll need to prove you have the necessary qualifications and experience to carry out gas work, and if any of your qualifications are more than five years old, you will need to renew them before registering.

What happens next?

Once you are registered, you’ll get a Gas Safe ID card. You must carry this with you on all jobs to prove you’re on the Gas Safe Register. To start with, you’ll be on probation for three months. You must keep records and tell the Gas Safe Register about all of your gas work.

As mentioned above, you’ll need to renew your registration every year. It currently (November 2022) costs £188.40 to renew online and £164.40 if you send an application form by post or renew by phone.

Find out more

Click here for full details of the path to Gas Safe registration.

The building and construction sector is arguably the one most associated with apprenticeships – and, as an important part of that sector, gas engineering is no exception! An apprenticeship with a gas services company offers a good way into the industry and you will find a range of opportunities available. A good first port of call is the British Gas apprenticeships guide. Apprenticeships with British Gas are run through Centrica, which aims to employ more than 1,000 apprentices over the next two years.

Alternatively, use your favourite search engine to discover more options. Or browse the government’s apprenticeship website (which has a section specifically devoted to construction and the built environment) or Find Apprenticeships – both of which allow you to search for apprenticeship opportunities by area of interest and location.

You could complete an advanced apprenticeship in gas engineering to become a gas services installer. This will usually take 18 months to complete – you’ll do on-the-job training and spend time at a college or training provider. Click here to find out more about that.

And, for some real inspiration, click here to read about Mark Horsley, who started out as an apprentice cable jointer and is now chief executive of Northern Gas Networks!

Use your ELC

Under the ELC scheme, a wide range of learning can be taken, provided it is offered by an approved provider listed on the ELCAS website and is at level 3 or above. For full details of how to make the most of your ELC, refer to the in-depth features elsewhere on the Quest website

Job prospects

Excitingly for Service leavers, Centrica – the parent company of British Gas – recently launched a dedicated Armed Forces Pathway and is looking to recruit 500 veterans, serving reservists and those transitioning out of the Armed Forces to join its team. There are opportunities at all levels across the organisation and a focused package of support, developed especially by and for the ex-Forces community.

If you already have relevant experience in say plumbing or heating, you could apply direct to a gas service company to gain experience as a gas installer. You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced gas engineer and progress as your abilities improve, and could study for relevant qualifications at the same time as gaining valuable practical skills.

As a qualified gas service installer the experience you gain could see you move into other areas of engineering, or supervisory and management roles. You may be able to use your transferable skills to switch to working on systems powered by upcoming in-demand alternative energy sources like hydrogen. Career progression is encouraged, and cross-skilling in new trade roles could see you go on to work in areas such as smart meter installation or heat pump engineering.

Eventually, you could set up your own gas installation or servicing business, or work as a self-employed consultant.

Finding work

Apart from the aforementioned Centrica Armed Forces Pathway you can look for the latest gas service installer vacancies on websites such as Indeed or find roles advertised locally with small and medium-sized businesses. Some training providers will help you to access your first role, while Energy & Utility Skills has a useful job search page that can be accessed from its website.

How much could I earn as a gas engineer?

Please note: the information in this section is intended as a rough guide only.

Salaries range from £18,000 for someone starting out in the sector up to £38,000 for an experienced engineer. Overtime is also likely to be paid for working at evenings and weekends or on bank holidays.