What it takes to be a self-employed gas engineer (with tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 7 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The gas engineering industry is competitive, with many professionals competing for each available vacancy on the market. Working on a self-employed basis is an ideal method of avoiding this competition and making your income in a gas market with plenty of opportunities for new entrants. Starting work as a self-employed gas engineer is a long process with several steps, and understanding the requirements can help you make informed career choices. In this article, we discuss what a self-employed gas engineer is and what it takes to be a self-employed gas engineer from the beginning of your work.

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What is a self-employed gas engineer?

Before learning what it takes to be a self-employed gas engineer, learning what self-employed gas engineers are can be beneficial for your development. Self-employed gas engineers work for themselves as sole traders or stakeholders in their businesses. They find their customers or apply to work on projects on a self-employed basis. Some also specialise in certain areas of gas engineering that can open up more opportunities and earning potential. They may work in various sectors, from residential and appliance engineering, such as fixing and fitting home boilers, to commercial services and industrial contracts.

Gas engineers may go self-employed for a range of reasons. This includes a preference for independence in the workplace, the benefit of claiming expenses and allowances in their work that may save them money or a desire to work on various projects across the world. Regardless of the specific circumstances leading to self-employment, self-employed gas engineers have similar requirements, including access to formal qualifications.

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What it takes to be a self-employed gas engineer

Here are some of the basic steps that summarise what it takes to be a self-employed gas engineer:

1. Complete your training

The first step in becoming a self-employed gas engineer is completing your basic training. An ideal way of doing so is to complete an apprenticeship or formal course at a college. This provides you with a baseline understanding of how gas engineering works, how to complete some of the more simple tasks and some of the issues that arise when completing work for a client. Completing training also provides you with a formal qualification, depending on the specific nature of your course, which is ideal for furthering your career.

Depending on the specific course you complete, consider specialising in a subject when completing your training. By specialising in areas such as industrial gas and plumbing, you increase the chances of securing clients in the future as you add to your portfolio of skills. You compete amongst fewer gas engineers for specialist clients. These specialist clients also pay more, as their work is more complex than standard residential properties and requires expert support.

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2. Secure a Gas Safe Registration

When building your validity as a self-employed gas engineer, securing a Gas Safe registration is a fundamental part of improving your company's reputation. A Gas Safe registration is a certificate from the regulatory body and is a way of proving to clients that your work is legitimate and safe. Having a Gas Safe registration provides an advantage over companies without this certification, as customers focus on safety and security when resolving issues with their gas supply.

Consider adding more registrations and certifications to your company's portfolio. The more certifications your company has available, the better chance your business has of distinguishing itself from rivals in the industry. This refers to certifications in specialist parts of the gas engineering industry and advanced certifications in standard gas engineering work, as you create a larger portfolio of certificates that you present when pitching yourself to clients.

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3. Set up a company

Registering as a company is a necessary step for anyone working as a self-employed person, especially for a self-employed gas engineer. This involves registering through the government's website, either working as a trader or setting up a company in your name. Self-employed gas engineers also have the option of starting a limited company with another stakeholder, providing gas engineers with a greater reach than working independently.

Some trade under their name, whilst others pick a company name. Creating a company name is an ideal method of trading. This presents you with a clear brand that you present yourself with, attracting people towards your brand through a distinctive title. Find a balance between a personal brand and a company name, so your company is unique to you and your services.

Related: Partnership vs. limited company: definitions and differences

4. Register for taxes

After creating a company, register for taxes with the HMRC. As a self-employed individual, you self-assess your own organisation's taxes, which means that your company makes a certain amount of money, and you pay yourself a wage out of this revenue. How you balance your revenue and income is entirely dependent on your personal needs and preferences. Self-employed people also consider some of their spending a 'business expense', which is beneficial for tax purposes and cuts down on working costs.

When completing your tax assessment, consider making use of an accountant. Accountants are experts in managing taxes and revenues of self-employed individuals, sometimes doing this for their spending in the workplace. Using an accountant means making the most of your spending, only allocating the right amount of spending towards taxes rather than providing the government with more taxes than necessary. This means more take-home pay for a gas engineer, which is ideal for an effective engineer putting in hard work.

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5. Create a website

When building your brand to a higher level of visibility, consider creating a website that pushes your company further. A company website has several significant features which support a gas engineer in furthering the size and reach of their brand. These features include:

  • Header: A header on each web page presenting the company's logo and colour scheme.

  • Contact page: Contact details wherever possible that convert interest in gas engineering into revenue.

  • Gallery: A gallery presenting some images of your previous work, demonstrating your high standards in your gas services.

  • Cornerstone content: Content that targets certain questions people ask about the industry that attracts potential clients to the site.

  • Services list: A clear list of the services you offer and your experience of providing these services for prior clients.

When creating a website, consider the services of an SEO expert. SEO experts are people with experience in creating websites that are more visible on search engines, as they rank highly in the list of relevant results for that phrase. Some companies focus on location-specific results, using terms such as 'gas engineer in London' when attracting people from the local area. This is a more effective method of growing in the early stages of self-employed gas engineering as it provides further reach in a specific location rather than in cities outside your area of operation.

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6. Focus on networking

Networking refers to building a series of contacts throughout the industry, including other companies, prospective clients, manufacturers and suppliers of parts. There are several opportunities for building these contacts, such as attending a series of industry award shows and conferences or simply calling other companies and discussing a partnership with them. Having these connections is a strong asset, supporting you in the event of a slight flaw in the market and providing you with a source of clients and revenue growth when necessary.

When creating a network, consider what you do for your connections. Networking is a two-way concept, with both parties gaining from the agreement. For example, a connection with a supplier of parts is ideal for both parties, as you have somewhere you get parts from, and they have a consistent customer that comes to them when in need. Creating transactional agreements is a method of retaining your contacts rather than relying on positive or charitable sentiment from the other party when you require support in a tight spot.

7. Use testimonials

Testimonials refer to the reviews that customers leave your business after using your services. Customers trust what other customers think, as they have no vested interest in seeing your company succeed. By presenting any potential buyers with what people think about your products, you attract people towards your business without having to put any effort into complex marketing techniques.

Use testimonials on a website or poster that you create. Some website builders have specific sections for testimonials, and by signposting your testimonials, you make it easy for people to see the benefits of your work. Never write a false testimonial, as this is a dishonest business practice and potentially drives buyers away from your work.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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