How To Become A Heat Pump Installer
Heat pumps are perhaps the hottest topic in the heating world at the moment. In the midst of the Government’s net zero push, at least one thing is certain: there is a huge lack of qualified heat pump installers.
With the way things are moving, training to become a heat pump installer is looking to be a smart decision. With plenty of work on the horizon and good salaries, it’s bound to be a rewarding career path.
This is especially true for those that are heating engineers, as you’re already more than halfway there. Joining the right heat pump installation course will only take a few days and lets you offer another service and take on more profitable jobs.
But what qualifications and accreditations do you need exactly? And which heat pump courses are the best? This article will give you the low-down on how to become a heat pump installer and everything you’ll need to know.
The Government’s goal for heat pumps & where you fit in
72,000 heat pumps were installed in 2022, and yet the Government has ambitious goals to increase this number to 600,000 by 2028.
There’s often a bit of reservation about heat pumps as a viable option in trades circles, but there’s no denying their environmental benefits and the Government’s push towards them. At the moment, there are only a few thousand engineers certified to fit heat pumps (roughly 3000, by some estimates), and many more will be needed to reach the goals.
Whether or not the Government’s plan is realistic or not is a question in itself – but it undoubtedly presents a huge opportunity for heating engineers across the UK.
One good thing to come out of the Government’s involvement are the grants available to both engineers and consumers. The recent Boiler Upgrade Scheme (BUS) generated a lot of talk with its increased £7,500 grant for the installation of a heat pump. While this won’t save installers money directly, it’s already created a surge in demand for new heat pump installations – and more jobs means more work and more profit.
Meanwhile, those looking to get into heat pump installer jobs can get a Government grant for discounted heat pump training courses. Successful applicants will get £500 off towards the heat training providers listed here.
The qualifications you need for heat pump installer jobs
Becoming a heat pump engineer is not as complicated as it might sound. For heating engineers, a few short heat pump installer courses are all that’s needed.
For those with no formal training, they will have to complete much of the training required to be a heating engineer. The prerequisites for an air source heat pump training course are as follows:
- A Level 2 or Level 3 NVQ or SVQ in plumbing / heating & ventilation / gas / oil – Installation and Maintenance qualification
- A valid Core Gas Safety (CCN1) certificate with CENWAT – must be involved in the installation of heating systems
- An OFTEC Oil certificate
- A valid HETAS certificate (for wet systems)
- Several years (typically 2-3) of experience installing wet central heating systems, evidenced by the above or Gas Safe Register membership
There are a few additional requirements to become MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) certified too. Scroll down for more information on that.
As you can see, any experienced heating engineer will have these qualifications. If you do, you will be able to enrol in a RQF Level 3 qualification in air source heat pump installation.
To be able to install ground source heat pumps, you will need to first have completed an air source heat pump installation course. This is due to ground source heat pumps requiring a slightly more complex installation process.
The differences between ground and air source heat pumps
The main difference between heat pumps is where they source their heat.
An air source heat pump draws heat from the air outside, and can operate in cold temperatures as low as -15°C.
A ground source heat pump uses pipes buried in the ground to extract heat from the ground, where the temperature is more constant.
Both systems then transfer the heat into a liquid called a refrigerant, and compress this liquid to increase the temperature.
There are several pros and cons to each heat pump type. For example, an air source heat pump is cheaper to install upfront (but has £1000 less with the grant), but can cost more over time due to less efficiency.
Ground source heat pumps also last longer as they’re not exposed to the elements. However, they’re more expensive to fit as they require ground to be dug up, and are not suitable for properties without much land space.
It is because of the increased complexity installing a ground source heat pump that you are required to undertake an air source heat pump training course first.
Average heat pump engineer salary
According to the National Careers Service, heat pump engineer salaries range between £22,000 and £45,000 per year depending on their experience.
This means that experienced heat pump installers earn anywhere between £7000 and £10,000 more than those of similar experience in other trades.
In general, taking more training courses and learning more about your industry will help you gain experience and expertise. This will in turn allow you to charge premium rates for a better service.
Of course, your exact earnings will depend on whether you’re working as an employee within a company or running your own successful business, for example. Using modern tools like FieldRocket’s job management software will help you get the most out of your skillset and run your business more efficiently.
Becoming MCS certified
Almost every single customer installing a heat pump will want to claim the 7500 GBP grant. For them to do this, their installer (you) must be MCS certified.
If you aren’t already, getting your MCS certification is then hugely important and requires a few extra steps.
The MCS has published a competency guidance document which has the full list of requirements, as well as a guide to becoming certified. As a heating engineer, you’ll likely already have most of them covered. But pay special attention and make sure you have completed:
- Water Regulations Training (which will also help you get into your local WIAPS and competent persons scheme
- A low temperature heating and hot water systems in dwellings training course
What about competent persons schemes?
One of the requirements for you to receive the £500 training grant is if you are a member of a competent person scheme for heating and hot water installations. As a heating engineer, this can be your Gas Safe Register membership.
But after completing your training, you’ll need to join a competent person scheme for heat pump installations. There is a full list of all the competent person schemes recognised in the UK, but those for heat pumps include APHC, Certsure (NICEIC), NAPIT and OFTEC.
Joining one of these schemes (or updating your membership if you are already registered with one) will let you self-certify that your heat pump installations comply with all the Building Regulations. Without having to get your work inspected, this will save you time and money (which means a cheaper and more attractive service for your customers).
5 reasons you should take a heat pump course
#1 There will only be more demand for heat pump installations
Especially now with the 50% increase of the BUS grant, demand for heat pumps is sure to rise. Completing your training courses now enables you to catch this demand as it’s picking up steam.
In addition to this, completing your training early and doing a few installations now will help you become one of the more experienced heat pump installers in your area.
#2 Training can be done in just a few days if you are already a heating engineer
Becoming a heat pump installer is not like training to become a heating engineer all over again. There are more than a few knowledge and skill overlaps, and it only takes a few days to complete the supplementary courses.
#3 Heat pump installation jobs can be more profitable
Taking a few days off for training might make a small dent in that month’s earnings, but you’ll soon make up the difference with a few heat pump installation jobs. In general, heat pump installations are a more complex and longer process. You’ll end up charging more for labour costs and earn a bigger profit because of it.
#4 Preparing yourself for the future of heating in the UK
Fossil fuels are inevitably on the way out, especially with the Government’s net zero ambitions. Training to be a heat pump installer now guarantees you career stability and security as the heating landscape continues to evolve. This is also true for the health and security of your business.
#5 You’ll be able to find more jobs
Adding another service is a great way to open up your business to more jobs. Especially if you run a business with several employees, offering more services means more potential work.
What are your heat pump installer course options?
There are a wide list of heat pump training course options available, depending on your location.
What we’ll do is break down the different options and help you understand what you actually want, what it’ll cost, and how long it will take.
- Air source heat pump installation course:
- Cost: £500 to £600
- Time to complete: ~3 days
- Ground source heat pump installation course:
- Cost: £200 to £300
- Time to complete: ~2 days
- Combined air and ground source heat pump training courses:
- Cost: £700 to £800
- Time to complete: ~4 days
Note that not everyone in your company must immediately take these heat pump courses in order to start working on heat pump jobs. As long as there is one MCS certified engineer supervising the job, they can still help out.
Are some better than the others?
If you can afford the time off to attend the training courses, it might be better to take both the air and ground source training courses. This will ensure you are fully qualified to install both types of heat pumps and widen your potential job opportunities, and you can save a little time combining the two.
As far as the different heat pump training courses themselves, as long as they are certified, we would simply recommend going for the one closest and most convenient to your home or office.
Prices are generally consistent among the providers, and with the Government subsidy of 500 GBP, these courses become very financially affordable (or even free)
Are there any free heat pump installer course options?
Some course providers will market their course as being free. This is often a combination of the £500 Government subsidy and their own private discounts.
Without the subsidy, it would be highly unusual to find free courses with proper training. We would recommend taking advantage of this subsidy for a free (or almost free) heat pump course while they are still available.
Managing your new heat pump jobs
With heat pump installer jobs making their way into your schedule, it makes sense to prepare yourself for the increased workload and new customers.
Job management software like FieldRocket will help streamline your workflows and claw back the time you spent on training (and more!)
Paperwork like managing customer details, scheduling, creating quotes and invoices, and issuing certificates becomes a breeze with proper software. Going paperless means you can focus on what really matters for your business.
Get started with a free trial (no credit cards required).
If you’ve been thinking about implementing software into your workflow to save time, here’s what you can do next:
- Visit our resources centre where you'll find more articles like this one and a full list of our certificates.
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- Book a demo with our customer success team. We’ll help walk you through the ins and outs of our software, how it’ll help you save time and money, and anything else that springs to mind.
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