Cellar Technician

The Job and What's Involved

Pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants need to use a variety of equipment so they can serve drinks at a consistent quality. Cellar technicians install these appliances and keep them in good working order.

The job involves working with pipes, taps, pressure systems and cooling equipment. The correct installation and use of these items is very important for licensed premises. It ensures their drinks are stored safely and that they are fresh and at the correct temperature when dispensed for customers.

The work is likely to involve:

  • Visiting premises to survey the work required.
  • Discussing with bar managers their requirements.
  • Planning the installation, taking into account any building adjustments that may be needed to house the new equipment.
  • Installing the equipment, ensuring it is compatible with the systems for water and electricity supply and drainage.
  • Training staff in how to use the equipment correctly and hygienically.
  • Responding to maintenance requests, finding faults and making repairs.
  • Keeping records of completed work.

The equipment which cellar technicians supply and install may include:

  • A 'python', a set of insulated plastic tubes through which drinks are chilled and delivered to the bar.
  • High-pressure gas systems, used to propel drinks through these pipes.
  • Cooling equipment which cools the drinks at source and as they are dispensed.
  • Valve systems which deliver beer to manual hand pulls or 'beer engines', used for real ales or 'cask' beer.

In their work, technicians use electrical testing devices, as well as a range of hand tools and power tools such as handsaws and drills. They must be aware of health and safety issues and ensure their work meets legal standards. Technicians usually work alone. They may work with a joiner or builder if adjustments to the building or internal fittings are necessary.

There are health and safety laws on working in confined spaces and working with pressure systems. Special conditions apply to the brewing industry. Technicians are expected to understand these and use this knowledge in their work.

Cellar technicians employed by breweries are expected to promote the brewery's products and draw attention to current promotions among the staff and managers they deal with.

The standard working week is likely to be around 40 hours. Cellar technicians may need to work longer hours to complete a project or at busy times. They may work shifts, including some weekends and evenings. At times they may need to be on call to respond to emergency requests.

The work is carried out in bars, hotels and restaurants and sometimes at the venues for festivals and other events. The cellars where they spend much of their time may be awkward spaces with restricted room for movement and some are dark or poorly lit.

The work involves some heavy lifting, so technicians need to be physically fit. They also need a driving licence to travel to the different premises where they work. The employer usually provides a van.

Salaries start from around £18,000 a year. With some experience, technicians may earn between £25,000 and £30,000 a year.

The top earnings in this work are up to £35,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

There are around 3,000 cellar technicians, working in all parts of the UK. They are employed by:

- Breweries and brewing industry contractors
- Drink-dispensing equipment manufacturers
- Soft drinks manufacturers

The number of licensed premises is in decline. However, skilled cellar technicians are still in demand.

Vacancies are found in local and national press and in trade publications such as The Morning Advertiser. Jobs are also advertised on the Brewing, Food and Beverage Industry Suppliers Association (BFBi) website.

Education and Training

There are no set academic qualifications. Some employers may require GCSE's (A*-C) in maths, science or technology subjects. They may also look for a qualification such as an NVQ at Level 2 or 3, BTEC or City & Guilds in a practical subject, with electrical or electronic engineering, plumbing or mechanics being the most relevant.

Many cellar technicians start out as a member of the bar staff or a bar cellar person. This equips them with knowledge about cellar equipment. Bar staff may take Cask Marque's one day course in cellar management.

The Diploma in engineering or in construction and the built environment may also be relevant for this area of work.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Entrants often work towards the Level 2 National Certificate for Cellar Service Installation and Maintenance (NCCSIM) which has been developed by the British Institute of Innkeeping Awarding Body (BIIAB) and the Brewing, Food and Beverage Industry Suppliers Association (BFBi). This nationally recognised qualification is delivered in five one day units complemented by the experience which technicians gain in their work. Candidates sit a short exam after each module.

The topics covered are:

- Health and safety and survey of the cellar
- Properties of beer and beer dispense equipment
- Cellar service equipment
- Service installation
- Dispense pressure systems.

There is an NVQ in drinks dispense systems available at Level 2 or 3.

Technicians may also attend specialist courses run by manufacturers to learn about specific products and equipment.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A cellar technician must be:

  • Good at practical work.
  • Thorough, with an eye for detail.
  • Good at analysing and resolving problems.
  • A good communicator.
  • Able to get on well with all kinds of people.
  • Comfortable using hand and power tools.
  • Physically fit.
  • Self-motivated.
  • Able to use IT.

Your Long Term Prospects

After gaining experience, technicians may advance into supervisory or management roles.

They may be able to move into other jobs in the brewing industry, such as quality management or sales.

Get Further Information

Brewing, Food and Beverage Industry Suppliers Association (BFBi),
3 Brewery Road, ,Wolverhampton WV1 4JT
Tel: 01902 422303
Website: www.bfbi.org.uk

British Beer and Pub Association,
Market Towers, 1 Nine Elms Lane, London SW8 5NQ
Tel: 020 7627 9191
Website: www.beerandpub.com

British Institute of Innkeeping (BII),
Wessex House, 80 Park Street,
Camberley, Surrey GU15 3PT
Tel: 01276 684449
Website: www.bii.org

Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA),
230 Hatfield Road, St Albans AL1 4LW
Tel: 01727 867201
Website: www.camra.org.uk

Cask Marque Trust, Seedbed Centre,
Severalls Park, Colchester CO4 9HT
Tel: 01206 752212
Website: www.cask-marque.co.uk

People 1st, 2nd Floor, Armstrong House,
38 Market Square, Uxbridge, Middlesex UB8 1LH
Tel: 01895 857000
Website: www.people1st.co.uk

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