Gas Service Technician
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A gas service technician sets up, maintains and repairs gas systems and appliances in domestic homes, offices and industrial premises.
Gas continues to be one of the most economical and popular forms of energy in today’s society. Gas is pumped though a complicated delivery system arriving at its destination – residential homes and corporate business – where it is metered for subsequent billing. We use it to power water boilers that in turn fill the central heating systems to keep us warm. Gas is also used for cooking where it provides an instant and controllable heat source that is superior to electrically powered hobs.
Gas is an extremely volatile substance and a leakage can lead to asphyxiation through inhalation, fire or explosion. As such, the gas service industry is tightly regulated and gas engineers are subject to regular testing and assessment.
- An apprentice working and studying at the same time earns between £12,000 and £15,000 per annum.
- An experienced gas service technician can earn from £18,000 to £40,000 per annum.
- Gas service technicians who own their own company and have a couple of employees may earn in excess of £40,000 per annum.
A gas service technician is likely to encounter any of the following during his daily routine:
- Installing a system to deliver gas throughout a premises, to water boilers and ovens.
- Repairing or replacing old and faulty equipment.
- Searching for gas leaks using specialised equipment.
- Carrying out tests on displays and control mechanisms.
- Ordering new parts where necessary.
- Keeping a detailed record of work carried out.
In order to work as a gas service technician you need to fulfil the following:
- Have completed an NVQ level 3 in Gas Installation and Maintenance.
- Be registered on the Gas Safe Register.
- Carry an ACS registration.
It is common and industry-recommended to study for the NVQ part-time while working for a registered company as a trainee. Only those who have completed the NVQ level 3 will be admitted to the ACS and Gas Safe Register.
A gas service technician will need to develop the following personal attributes:
- Good communication skills as you will be dealing directly with the public.
- Good problem solving skills; no two jobs are the same.
- Mathematical ability for making measurements and estimates.
- The ability to work with technical instructions and diagrams.
- Team-work skills and the ability to work under your own initiative.
- Excellent attention to detail.
- A fully responsible attitude to your own work.
- Good ability with manual work.
- Strict adherence to industry-approved safe working practices.
Gas service technicians work on-site. That is wherever the job is taking place, be it a private home, business or building site. For this reason, a van is the most essential piece of equipment, in order to travel to a job and to store all the necessary tools and parts.
Working with gas appliances is physically intensive and can involve periods of working on one’s knees in cramped conditions. Additionally, hours can be long with early starts and late finishes in the case of complex or emergency jobs. Usual business hours do apply but gas emergencies can happen at any hour of the day, so shift work is common in companies dealing in this area.
As with most manual occupations, the demographic of gas service technicians is mostly male. There is no obstruction to women joining the workforce, however, and it is not exclusively male.
In order to gain the essential ACS and Gas Safe Registration you need to prove that you not only have the relevant qualifications but also enough experience working in the field. Your college can put you in touch with registered gas service firms looking for trainees or you may apply directly to firms to ask about apprenticeships and then apply for college.
British Gas is the largest UK national employer of gas service technicians. Alternatively, countless gas and plumbing firms, ranging from just a couple of employees upwards, use gas service technicians. Check your local company directory and apply direct.
Qualified plumbers, engineers and building service technicians can apply for ACS registration in a separate category. They must complete a series of ACS study and assessment modules to gain entry to the Gas Safe register and to work as gas service technicians.
Some gas service technicians go on to start up their own gas service company.
You can complete additional qualifications to work in specialised areas such as:
- Designing complex gas delivery systems.
- Assessing energy efficiency in large-scale developments.
- Working with renewable energy sources such as solar or ground heated power.
Also known as…
- Gas fitter
- Gas engineer
- Gas network engineer
What’s it really like?
Dan Shanks, 35, is Company Director of Go with the Flow Gas Plumbing and Heating firm.
How long have you been working in the gas service industry?
About 6 years now. When I decided I wanted to do it I got myself on to a course at a college and then I made such a pain of myself that someone gave me a job just to shut me up. So I got a job in a mechanical engineering firm called Mitie. I was working on building sites doing plumbing and heating and I was learning as I was working on the site. I was still going to college and paying for the course myself. After about 6 or 7 months, the contract I was working on dried up so they made me redundant, but by then I could do quite a lot of stuff, so I decided to do the rest on my own. I had been doing a bit of private work and I carried on doing that. I had 2 years under my belt by then but I had to study for another 2 years to the point where I had all my gas qualifications. About 2 years ago my brother joined me in the business; he has had lots of hands on experience with me and now is close to completing his gas qualifications too.
What did you do before this job?
I worked in the TV and film industry as a runner.
What do you do in a typical day at work?
A typical day? It’s hard to say really but theoretically one could go like this; I start work about 8 in the morning and drop off the boys and all the gear for a new boiler installation. I leave them doing that, then I could get a call from someone to whom I’ve been recommended, telling me their boiler has broken down. So I go to their house, carry out diagnostics on the boiler, find out the problems, then drive to the wholesalers to buy the spare part, then I return, strip out the old faulty part and put the new part in. Then I recommission the system that I would have turned off, make sure all the controls are functioning and e-mail them an invoice at the earliest opportunity to try and get paid as soon as possible. After that I may go on to the next job that was scheduled in the diary already, this time to carry out landlord safety certification – that is a legal document that landlords have to supply by law which demonstrates that all the gas appliances in a property are safe to use. Finally at the end of the day I go back and join the boys. I have to do invoicing and accounts at night, get back to people who need quotes for work and that may mean visiting people in their homes after hours to do an accurate costing.
What do you like about the job?
I do lots and lots of problem solving. No two days are the same and that is definitely true. I find it very rewarding.
What do you dislike about the job?
Touching other peoples excrement (not that gas jobs involve that but we also do all aspects of plumbing)! Dealing with people can be difficult sometimes but that’s more of a challenge than something I don’t like. I work quite long hours but then again I can choose when I do work, which is a great thing to be able to do.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of doing this job?
I would advise people to do it but say that it takes quite a long time to get to a stage where you’re any good. You carry on learning every single day in this job so just don’t expect it to happen all at once. But I think it’s a great trade basically.
What job(s) do you think you might do after this role in terms of career progression
If my company is a success then I’d like to get to the point where other people are doing the hands-on stuff, so I have a supervisory role. I don’t want to be on my hands and knees drilling things when I’m 60.
What other inside-information can you give to help people considering this career?
Stick at it; in the beginning you earn very little money and you have to work like a dog. You have to understand that and don’t expect to be earning the big bucks right away. You get the bad jobs and the bad money but if you want success enough you’ll get it.
Do you mind us publishing your salary – this is very helpful for job seekers?
You can earn as much as you want; if you want to work 24 hours a day 7 days a week, that’s up to you. I don’t and I currently earn between £40 and £45,000 a year.