Nigel Carroll was tired of spending all day in an office and decided to do something about it. Now, he is well on the way to achieving his dream of a more independent, hands-on and fulfilling career as a plumber.
With just a little over a year until he finishes his apprenticeship, Nigel is sure that he made the right choice.
“Some days, when it’s 35 degrees and you’re cutting up sewers you think the old air conditioned office sounds pretty good, but once you get out of that hole and you look back and you have a beer, you think it wasn’t that bad. I wouldn’t go back to an office for quids.”
Melbourne Polytechnic was already familiar to Nigel from his pre-apprenticeship training, so it seemed a logical move to go back for his Certificate III. He found the teachers really helpful and approachable, and saw that they dealt with some of the challenges of motivating students really well.
“As soon as you asked them questions and they could tell that you cared, they did their best to make sure that you got the right answers. I was pretty motivated because I’m older and its something I really wanted to do, but I know when I was a kid, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do and so I did whatever came along. I can see how that would be a little bit trying but they do a really good job.”
The wealth of knowledge his teachers had was something Nigel was keen to tap into too. With so many different skills to learn in plumbing, he found it really helpful to have teachers who came from very different plumbing backgrounds.
“Plumbing’s a pretty broad-spectrum type of thing, if one guy’s done his time laying drains and the one’s done his time roofing obviously the guy to ask about roofing is the roofing guy because they’ve done it, they know. Everyone’s got their degree of understanding how things work but if you do it for a day-to-day job you find out the shortcuts and what works best. Everything was helpful though; I’m a domestic maintenance sort of plumber so we have to do a broad range of things.”
Nigel was also helped out financially with a Melbourne Polytechnic study grant and by winning the award for being the top student in his course. The awards, however, meant more than just the money to buy much-needed tools.
“It was good to get those basics; because once you’ve got a decent kit you can do most jobs. It was a nice little bit of recognition for what you’ve done too.”
When he finishes his apprenticeship in a little over a year, Nigel eventually hopes to move to the country. His future is a long way from feeling stuck in an office.
“Eventually I’d like to run my own business and just be a plumber – to do my own thing and be my own boss.”
Nigel has some solid advice for anyone else considering a change of career or starting study.
“Pick something that you really like and develop a passion. Don’t just do something because there’s money in it or a fancy name, just do something that you enjoy.”
Certificate III Plumbing