Gas Service Technician

The Job and What's Involved

Gas service technicians install, set up, maintain and repair appliances such as gas fires, cookers and central heating systems in customers' homes, businesses and sometimes industrial premises. Technicians may have a range of job titles depending on their particular role and the company they work for. They may be maintenance fitters, repair technicians or installation technicians.

Maintenance Fitters carry out the regular servicing needed to keep gas appliances, including central heating boilers, working efficiently and safely. They might also carry out landlords' gas safety inspections and minor repairs when required. They advise customers on how to get the best out of their appliances.

Repair Technicians have to track down problems using their knowledge and experience. They use fault diagnosis tools to help them and then repair the appliance or system.

Installation Technicians install gas appliances and get them ready for the customer to use. They may also plan central heating systems in consultation with the customer.

All technicians start their day by picking up a list of jobs from the office. Some, who work for large organisations, might log on to a laptop computer. Some technicians may visit up to ten customers in a day. Some visits may only take a short time, perhaps repairing the pilot light of a boiler. Others are more complex,such as repairs to central heating controls that have broken down.

Technicians carry a range of spare parts in their vans, but may have to order other parts. They then make a second appointment to visit the customer once the spare part has arrived.

For fitting, servicing and repairing appliances, technicians use a wide range of hand tools, including spanners and wrenches. They also use specialist plumbing tools for bending pipes and soldering joints. After installing appliances, gas service technicians set up and test them to make sure they are working properly.

Technicians also search for and repair gas escapes, using testing apparatus. They check that the systems and controls work safely, and that there is good enough ventilation and gas pressure. The safety of people and property is the number one priority. Technicians have to make everything safe when dealing with hazards such as gas escapes, which could lead to fires or explosions.

They also have to keep records of the work they have done and the time each call takes. Often this can be done on a laptop computer or mobile phone, which may also be used to order parts or track the progress and completion of jobs.

It may also be part of a technician's job to give advice, discuss estimates and sell their company's services. Sometimes they have to deal with complaints.

The basic working week is usually around 40 hours. The normal hours are 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, but some companies offer a repair service outside these hours. Technicians may also have to work on a rota to give 24-hour emergency cover.

Most of the work takes place indoors, on customers' premises, although very occasionally technicians need to work outdoors. They sometimes work on roofs and from scaffold towers, so a good head for heights may be useful.

The job may involve bending, lifting and working in confined spaces. The work can sometimes be dusty or dirty, and technicians may wear overalls and safety equipment such as boots, goggles and gloves.

Large companies may supply a van, tools and a uniform.

Starting salaries are around £12,461 a year. There may also be extra payments for overtime, shift work or for selling products and services to customers.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Gas service technicians work for companies that install, service and repair gas appliances. Many work for large organisations such as British Gas. Some work for appliance manufacturers or on a self-employed basis.

There is a national shortage of trained and experienced gas service technicians, and there are opportunities throughout the country.

Jobs are advertised through company websites, in local newspapers, in Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices.

Education and Training

The qualifications required vary from company to company. Some have no set minimum requirements, but applicants usually need at least four GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3), including maths, English and sometimes science and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications. Practical subjects such as metalwork and woodwork are useful.

Some companies offer their own Apprenticeship schemes, which combine working alongside an experienced engineer with classroom-based training.

Apprenticeships usually include working towards the Domestic Natural Gas Installation and Maintenance NVQ's/SVQ's (City & Guilds 6012).

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is usually provided on the job, under the supervision of experienced staff.

All gas service engineers must be registered with CORGI (Council of Registered Gas Installers). For new entrant CORGI registration, technicians need to work towards an NVQ/SVQ in Domestic Natural Gas Installation and Maintenance at Level 2 or 3, or find a job with a CORGI-registered business that provides an extended period of in-house gas training.

Alternatively an NVQ/SVQ in an area of mechanical engineering and related on-the-job gas training and experience can be a starting point.

A person new to the industry applying for CORGI registration has to have gas work experience outside of the classroom under the supervision of a CORGI-registered engineer.

On a five-year cycle, gas service technicians have to demonstrate their gas safety competence by successfully completing nationally agreed Accredited Certification Scheme (ACS) assessments, carried out at an approved assessment centre. There are six certification bodies with 230 centres around the UK capable of delivering these assessments (details on the CORGI website).

Technician apprentices cover the more theoretical aspects of the work by studying on day or block release at a local college. With workplace assessments, this leads to at least NVQ/SVQ Level 3 in Domestic Natural Gas Installation and Maintenance.

Technicians can also study for a BTEC national certificate or diploma, an SQA national certificate group award or a City & Guilds certificate.

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You may use life saving skills as part of your day-to-day work.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Gas service technicians should:

  • Have good practical skills for using tools and instruments.
  • Be polite, friendly and professional, and good at communicating face to face.
  • Be physically fit and have normal colour vision.
  • Be good with numbers.
  • Have computer skills, if working for a company that uses laptops or PCs.
  • Be able to learn and apply technical information.
  • Be able to work in an organised way.
  • Have problem-solving skills.
  • Work well alone or in a small team.
  • Be able to take decisions and accept responsibility.
  • Be constantly aware of safety risks.

Your Long Term Prospects

In larger companies there may be opportunities for promotion to supervisory and management posts. Promotion prospects in smaller companies may be limited, and a technician may have to move to another company to progress.

Further technical progress usually means studying engineering at a higher level, such as HNC/HND or degree.

There are opportunities to work in related areas in a supervisory role, eg as a quality assurance engineer, or to go into sales. Technicians have skills that transfer into other engineering sectors.

Experienced CORGI-registered service technicians and installers can become self-employed and run their own businesses.

Get Further Information

British Gas Service Recruitment Centre,
Colthrop Way, Thatcham, Berkshire RG19 4AG
Tel: 01753 49400
Website: www.britishgasacademy.co.uk

CORGI (The Council for Registered Gas Installers),
1 Elmwood, Chineham Park, Crockford Lane,
Basingstoke RG24 8WG
Tel: 0800 915 0480
Website: www.corgi-gas-safety.com

Energy & Utility Skills, Friars Gate Two,
1011 Stratford Road, Shirley,
Solihull B90 4BN
Tel: 0845 077 9922
Website: www.euskills.co.uk

Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM),
IGEM House, High Street, Kegworth,
Derbyshire DE74 2DA
Tel: 0844 375 4436
Website: www.igem.org.uk

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