As part of our Women in Engineering series, we talked to our newest member of the team - Kirstin about being a female plumber (and renewable energy heating engineer). Kirstin studied a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Plumbing with an Environmental Pathway and is working at Xpert Energy as a Heating Engineer, within the Installations Team and training alongside Steve (our resident renewable and plumbing genius).
Was plumbing an obvious career choice for you – how did you arrive at this point in your career?
I did a GCSE in construction and I really enjoyed it. That got me interested in that area and led me to plumbing. Then I did a technical certificate in plumbing - I knew then that was what I wanted to do.
So why the environmental pathway? What was it that attracted you to this element of course?
Just more experience. It gave me the option to do more things.
Have you ever felt put off by the attention drawn to your gender in this industry?
No. It makes me want to work harder.
Do you feel like you have to prove yourself more?
What kind of skills do you need to possess to work as a plumber and engineer?
You need to be able to do quite physical things, work out what’s happened and what needs to happen. Be good at problem solving.
What is the job application process for someone going into your field?
There are a few -- the Apprenticeship option is good as you can put into practice what you learn in college. I also did a technical certificate which is a good introduction.
What do you think is going to need to change to attract more women into the type of role you are studying?
Attitudes and people’s perspectives to plumbing and engineering. It’s still not seen as an area women work in.
Can you recommend any career path?
The technical certificate in plumbing is good (OCNW Certificate) followed by an EDI Level 1 Award in Plumbing as it gives you a good base for the level 2 or 3 apprenticeship.
Do you hope to do any more courses or studying? If so what? Any other professional plans?
I would like to do more courses in the future as I think it's good to always be learning and pushing yourself - to achieve everything you can, but I'm not sure what they would be just yet.
What would you say to girls thinking about doing plumbing or choosing renewable energy subjects at A-level?
Go for it!
Related articles: Women in Engineering - Chloe Taylor
Are Women the Answer to the Engineering Shortage?