For more information about this trade, contact the training co-ordinator.
Plumbers plan, install, maintain, inspect and repair plumbing systems, fixtures, equipment and controls in residential and commercial buildings.
Although plumbing is called one of the "piping trades", it can be highly specialized. Some plumbers may install piping systems in new home construction, in commercial, industrial and public buildings, or be experts in retrofitting, repair and maintenance of existing systems.
Residential plumbing is very different from industrial or commercial work. On a typical construction job, plumbers do the "roughing in" after the frame and roof of a new building are in place. They return to the site after the plasterers or drywallers, tilesetters and floor covering installers have completed their work to do the "finishing" work such as installing sinks, tubs and toilets.
At a commercial worksite, plumbers might install restaurant kitchens and dishwashing stations, sewage treatment plants, or a public water system. They might work with hydronic, heating/cooling, natural and liquefied petroleum gas systems or private sewage disposal, pumps and specialty piping.
After completing apprenticeship training, a certified plumber is qualified to:
If you are mechanically inclined, can pay close attention to detail and are interested in working in a highly specialized trade, consider becoming a plumber. In addition to having good manual dexterity, the ability to translate blueprints and sketches into finished installations is critical. The work is most rewarding to people who enjoy using their specialized skills in a variety of jobsite conditions and working with little supervision.
The apprenticeship is five years of five levels. Practical and technical training is a minimum of 1800 hours per level. About 80 per cent of the time is spent learning practical on-the-job skills under the supervision of a certified journeyperson and 20 per cent consists of learning the theoretical and technical aspects of the trade through in-school training.
Note: Gasfitter training to support the domestic gas fitter's licence is now mandatory technical training.
Apprentices attend periods of technical training for each required level of training. Subjects include:
High School Apprenticeship Program (HSAP): Begin your apprenticeship training in high school. A minimum age of 16 years in required.
General Admission: A Grade 12 or equivalent high school academic standing is required including recommended courses in Math. If you do not hold a high school diploma, you can also qualify as an Access Program Trainee (formerly Mature Student). Prior Learning Recognition and Assessment may be required.
Trades Qualification: If you are experienced in the trade, but do not hold a Certificate of Qualification, you may become a certified journeyperson based on years of proven industry experience and successful completion of the Red Seal Examination. A Trades Qualification Application and trade specific work experience form must be submitted. Trades professionals whose entrance readiness is less than that required, must take appropriate upgrading.
For additional details on entrance requirements and how to begin your apprenticeship or obtain certification, see section on "How to Start".
When you successfully complete all your required levels of practical experience and technical training, you write an interprovincial examination. You must score at least 70 per cent or better to qualify for a “Red Seal” endorsed interprovincial certificate confirming your status as a certified journeyperson.
Your “Red Seal” endorsed Certificate of Qualification as a journeyperson in this trade is recognized throughout Canada.
Regulations under the Apprenticeship and Certification Act establish minimum wage rates for apprentices. Every employer who enters into an apprenticeship agreement with an apprentice must ensure that the apprentice is paid at least the minimum wage rate for that trade.
Apprentices who work for unionized employers are entitled to the wage rate in the collective agreement if it exceeds the pay rates specified in the trade regulation.
Employers may also provide other benefits such as group insurance for health, dental and vision care and training benefits.
Current wage details are available by downloading the training wage schedule.
Construction contractors, plumbing service and repair shops and large commercial, institutional or industrial businesses employ plumbers. Some plumbers are self-employed and others may specialize in plumbing new homes. Others may work primarily in renovation, maintenance and repair. In smaller communities, plumbers generally do a variety of plumbing and plumbing-related jobs including the installation of private sewage disposal systems and potable water distribution systems.
Experienced plumbers usually earn above average incomes in the $40,000 and over/year range. Some may become foremen, superintendents or estimators or work for government as safety code inspectors. With additional training they may transfer their skills to related trades such as Steamfitter/Pipefitter or Sprinkler System Installer.