Stuart goes with the flow; Work on tap for former city centre office worker So you want to be a plumber.
AS THE credit crunch starts to hit businesses across the city plumbers continue to make a pretty penny, according to former sales executive Stuart Bennett.
Six months ago Mr Bennett, aged 28, from Sutton Coldfield, was stuck selling advertising from an office in the city.
But after four years in the job he finally decided enough was enough and took the first steps towards becoming a plumber.
Now, after a three-month home learning course and an eight week practical stint, the former office worker is starting to make big strides in the trade.
Mr Bennett said: "One of the great things with this job is that there will always be work out there for you.
"The credit crunch can be hitting as hard as it likes but people will always need to have a wash in the morning or have their homes heated.
"And the saying that where there is muck there's brass is actually pretty accurate.
"The worst jobs in our trade are always the blocked toilets but there's no getting away from it.
"I find if you are fair with people who are in an emergency they will recommend you to other people and you get more business.
"Ripping people off is no good in the long run as well as being completely wrong."
After leaving Arthur Terry School in Sutton Coldfield Mr Bennett attended Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies where he took an NVQ in catering and management before doing a degree in hospitality.
But his career soon changed direction when he took up a sales job which he stayed in for more than four years.
His professional ambitions took a turn again when he decided to leave the sales job and start up his own plumbing business.
But it wasn't easy for Mr Bennett as he had to learn the trade from scratch, move back in with his parents to raise the pounds 9,000 needed to start his company and begin to build a customer base.
Mr Bennett said: "All in all it has cost me nearly pounds 10,000 to buy the specialist tools, a van, training and insurance.
"But the course I did was really really good and I haven't had any jobs that are too difficult for me yet.
"Saying that though I would advise anyone who is thinking about getting into the trade to get a bit of experience first. It is vital that you research which training course you are going to do and it is always helpful to know someone who is already in the business as they can help you if you get stuck.
"There is a lot of learning in this job and the trick is to do that well so you don't get yourself into trouble."
After setting up his website Mr Bennett has seen business slowly take off.
He now hopes to get on the Corgi register so he can add fixing gas boilers to his repertoire.
"Being Corgi registered is what everybody recognises so that is definitely the next thing I need to do.
"After that I don't have too many plans and I will just have to see how things go.
"Fitting bathrooms and kitchens is where the big money is but with the credit crunch setting in that type of work is becoming more and more difficult to get hold of."
To find out more about Mr Bennett's plumbing business go to www.osirisplumbing.co.uk
Before they were famous...
Black Sabbath front man and Birmingham walk-ofstars legend Ozzy Osbourne turned his hand to plumbing aged 15. But his career path turned to musical stardom after a short spell in Winson Green prison.
England centre forward Tom Finney was widely known as the Preston plumber as he continued to ply his trade during his football career. Rumour has it he was offered a pounds 10,000 signing on fee, pounds 130 a month wages, bonuses of up to pounds 100 a game, a Mediterranean villa, a luxury car and free travel to and from Italy for his family if he signed for Italian side Palermo in 1952. But he turned it down. Even then plumbing was lucrative work.
Joe Cocker began his rock 'n' roll career by playing in Sheffield's nightclub's in the evenings. But by day he kept his musical dream alive by earning cash as a plumber.
The Dirty Dozen Star Lee Marvin worked as a plumber's apprentice before hitting the big time as a Hollywood actor.
Before becoming the Lord of the Dance Michael Flatley set up his own company called Dynasty Plumbing. But by the mid 1990s he was a multi- millionaire and no longer needed to work as a tradesman.
What qualifications, training and qualities do I need?
Grade A-C in maths and science at GCSE level
A City & Guilds qualification - Stuart Bennett did his through Open Learning Centre International
Registration with Corgi to show you are fully trained in servicing gas boilers
A van (if you want to be self employed)
Some practical work experience
A website and/or listing on Yell.com
Power tools and specialist equipment
An honest and hard-working attitude
A willingness to get wet and dirty in cramped spaces as part of the day-to-day job
Trainee plumbers earn between pounds 12,000 and pounds 15,000 a year.
Qualified plumbers earn around pounds 18,500 or more a year.
Experienced plumbers can earn from pounds 22,500 upwards a year.
Self-employed plumbers may have higher earnings.
STEADY WORK.. Stuart Bennett says plumbing skills will always be in demand.