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Up for Hire: How to be a... plumber

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Annabel McLeod | 19:18 UK time, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Entrepreneur and 2011 Inspirational Woman of the Year finalist Hattie Hasan shares her work history and tips on becoming a plumber.

Name: Hattie Hasan

Hattie Hasan

Lives: Yorkshire

Childhood dream job: Surgeon. But I was too squeamish to ever be one.

Other jobs I've done: Primary school teacher for eight years.

Current job: Plumber / owner of Stopcocks Women Plumbers / entrepreneur / author of Joy Of Plumbing

Number of years in the industry? 21

Typical hours: You choose your own hours so I don't really have typical ones. It's never nine-to-five. Some people are on 24-hour (although I wouldn't recommend that).

Qualifications/courses I took for this job: City & Guilds and Advanced Craft Certificate, equivalent to NVQ Level 6. I also have a BSc and a PGCE.

Most useful skill I've learnt: Handling tools. It helped build up my confidence. When I could do that, I remember I had the feeling of, 'Now I've made it. I can cope with anything!' Any other experience I've learned along the way? There is only so much you can learn from a book. You have to learn on the job. I was always working while I was training. And you need a mentor, who doesn't mind you asking questions while you're learning.

First job: I did a half day in hairdressers for £2.50.

My first job helped me get where I am today because...: It taught me I didn't want to be a hairdresser! But it also taught me that you shouldn't just do something for the money, because you won't last, you'll resent it. You're work/life balance is important.

Funniest/strangest day at work: There are plenty of nasty things, like finding dead rats in attics. I work rurally quite a lot, and one house's water came from a spring. This customer said her water had stopped. I went to look and there was a live frog stuck in the end of the pipe. I got it out and it just hopped off.

Toughest career moment so far: I think the fear of 'will I succeed?' early on in my career.

The biggest myth about my job is...: That women can't do it!

If you want to work in this industry you need to...: Have a thick skin. Unfortunately, there are not many women plumbers so be prepared to work on your own. It's hard being isolated, which is why I want to establish a community of women plumbers. But I've never regretted it. Oh, and go to college, and learn.

The tip I'd pass on to anyone starting this job is: Get a good knee pad! And as a woman plumber, look after your body. Women are not as physically strong as men and we tackle things, the heavy jobs, differently, so you have to look after yourself.

If I hadn't had done this job, I would have been...: A scuba-diving instructor. It's still water and it's still teaching... but in hotter places!

Up For Hire Live is a whole week of programmes with Radio 1 tackling unemployment. Starts October 17th at 9pm. Tweet us on @bbc3tv using #upforhire.

- BBC Three Blog: Up for Hire?
- 60seconds Sam: How can we help more young people into work?
- For more advice, check out the Up for Hire Facebook page

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