In New Zealand there is a close relationship between qualifications and the licensing of workers in the industry, as required by legislation.
What is the difference between qualifications and licenses?
A plumbing/gasfitting/drainlaying qualification is an official award acknowledging the successful completion of a prescribed programme of integrated work experience and study. Once a qualification has been achieved, it is for life. A qualification may also be recognised overseas. A licence, however, is an authorisation or permission to practice. Licences for plumbing, gasfitting and drainlaying are managed by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Registration Board. A licence is for a limited period and requires periodic renewal. A licence is usually only an authorisation to practice within the country in which the licence is issued.
It is a little confusing in that in both cases, formal written assessments are required to gain both trade qualifications and practicing licences.
The only trade qualification, as such, is National Certificate (Trade Certificate, for those who qualified prior to the mid 90s). There are currently four National Certificates catering for these industries, with an additional two qualifications specific to aspects of roofing, although roofing is also an integral part of the National Certificate in Plumbing.
1Many apprentices will undertake both the National Certificate in Plumbing and the National Certificate in Gasfitting concurrently, as there are significant skills, processes, and knowledge areas common to both.
Some tradespeople who carried out further study prior to the mid 90s may also have a higher qualification in plumbing and/or gasfitting called Advanced Trade Certificate. There is no current equivalent qualification to Advanced Trade Certificate, although it is likely that a diploma will be developed in the near future.
In many respects, the licensing system (outlined below) provides opportunities for, and recognition of, advanced study within these industries, as it is most unlikely that a tradesperson would be able to pass the advanced licensing exams without specific additional study.
There are also a number of specialist areas for which minor certificates of accreditation may be awarded including Backflow Prevention, Polyethylene Pipe Welding, etc.
In addition to actual qualifications (National Certificate/s), plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers must be licensed according to the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006.
There are several layers of licence designed to provide a balance between those in training (and/or who primarily work under close supervision), and those who supervise2 and certify the work of others.
Registration of plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers is managed by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Registration Board, under regulations prescribed in the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act 2006.
"The Board is a ministerially appointed body corporate committed to the promotion of high standards of work, professional conduct, and the protection of public health and safety through the registration and licensing of competent plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers." (http://www.pgdb.co.nz)
The responsibilities of the Board are to:
This exemption accommodates the hundreds of workers who, for whatever reason, have entered the industry and are performing plumbing/gasfitter/drainlayer work without going through an apprenticeship. This class of licence was formerly included within the limited certificate class outlined below.
This exemption enables a worker to legally work on sanitary plumbing and/or gasfitting (as applicable - see definition in the section on plumbing/gasfitting/drainlaying) under the following conditions.
Exempt persons must carry their exemption card at all times and produce it when requested to do so by consumers and inspectors alike.
All apprentices with a formal training agreement are required to have a limited licence. A limited licence enables a worker to legally work on sanitary plumbing/gasfitting/drainlaying (see definition in the section on plumbing/gasfitting/drainlaying under the following conditions.
Limited certificate holders must carry their card at all times and produce it when requested to do so by consumers and inspectors alike.
2Supervision: The certifying person must have sufficient control and direction of all work to ensure:
Where testing is necessary to ensure the work meets the requirements of the New Zealand Building Code, the certifying person is responsible for the testing and verification of work done by people under their supervision. (Definition [altered] from: http://www.pgdb.co.nz/download/pdf/licence-renewal/plumbers-guide.pdf)
To become a licensed plumber you will need to:
To become a licensed gasfitter you will need to:
To become a licensed drainlayer you will need to:
All licensed workers must carry their card at all times and produce it when requested to do so by consumers and inspectors alike.
Licensed persons are required to undergo continuing professional development (CPD) as determined by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board.
Note: A 'Licensed' plumber/gasfitter/drainlayer was formerly known as a 'Registered' plumber/gasfitter/drainlayer.
Only certifying plumbers and gasfitters can uplift consents and supervise plumbing and gasfitting jobs.
Note: A 'certifying' plumber/gasfitter was formerly known as a 'craftsman' plumber/gasfitter.
Certifying plumbers/gasfitters and drainlayers are responsible for:
To become a certifying plumber you will need:
To become a certifying gasfitter you will need:
Certifying Drainlayer is a new class of drainlayer as of April 1, 2010.
Details on this class will be added as they become available.
3There was formerly no provision for a 'Craftsman' Drainlayer.
Certifying plumbers/gasfitters /drainlayers must carry their card at all times and produce it when requested to do so by consumers and inspectors alike.
Certifying plumbers/gasfitters /drainlayers are required to undergo continuing professional development (CPD), as determined by the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Board, in order to satisfy the requirements for annual registration. This entails proof of participation in, and successful completion of, about 20 hours of Board-approved seminars, study, workshops, etc.
If you have gained your qualifications outside of New Zealand and are considering working here, please click on the link to Overseas Qualifications.
For more information go to the Plumbing, Gasfitting and Drainlaying Board website.