A formal education to degree level, as well as professional qualifications, is common place among today's tradesmen according to research carried out by AXA Business Insurance.

The poll, carried out among hundreds of UKs tradesmen showed that over a third (37%) of those polled had been university educated, more than eight in ten (83%) had a formal professional qualification in their trade and more than 70% had taken an apprenticeship.

In turn, nearly half have themselves offered opportunities to others by providing a formal apprenticeship within their business.

Meanwhile, the proportion of females working in trades looks to be growing. Although women represented only one in ten of those interviewed, two thirds of these were under the age of 35 suggesting that a profession in the trades is becoming more attractive to females starting out in their careers.

Across both male and female tradespeople, 43% made a career choice to enter the profession they are in and over half have set up their own business. 28% went into the family business and nearly half had worked in another industry before settling on their trade

When it comes to putting in the hours, the UK's tradesmen are working on average 41 hours a week, take two and three quarter weeks holiday a year. The vast majority (89%) will work weekends some of the time and one in five (22%) always work weekends. Despite this, when asked to rate their happiness in their job on a scale of 1-10, the average came out at eight suggesting a nation of happy builders, plumbers and electricians.

Last year, AXA Business Insurance carried out research that showed a website was more important to consumers than a phone number when looking up a tradesman, which is good news for the 47% of tradesmen in the new research who do have a website. And social media is becoming part of working life for many professional tradesmen with over 20% using facebook and twitter for business purposes and over 30% using linked in.

When it comes to some of the old clichés about tradesmen:

• a quarter of those polled do read the Sun. But the same number read The Times

• less than half (41%) would opt for a cup of tea while on the job - coffee and water being popular second and third choices. Four per cent would drink herbal or green tea!

• over two thirds of tradesmen will take cash payments from time to time.

Image courtesy of shutterstock/George Dolgikh