How to Become a Plumber in CanadaOverview Training & Certification Skills, Knowledge & Attributes Career Paths Work Environment Compensation F.A.Q Explore Courses
How to Become a Plumber in Canada
By: Jennifer Brown
Last updated: November 12, 2022
From the water that comes out of the taps in our homes to the commercial and industrial sewage systems built for large infrastructure projects, licensed plumbers who know how to provide and maintain these kinds of services are always in high demand. And experienced plumbers can earn a good income for the work they do.
A plumber is a tradesperson who specializes in installing and maintaining systems used for drinking water, sewage, and drainage in plumbing systems. In addition to working in residential homes and condos, plumbers are employed in the maintenance departments of factories, plants and similar facilities, by plumbing contractors, or they may be self-employed.
Some of the duties that a plumber performs include installing, repairing and maintaining pipes, fixtures, and other equipment; welding, connecting, and leak testing; estimating; interpreting blueprints; supervising apprentices; and generally troubleshooting a range of problems for users of residential and commercial premises.
There were 44,200 people employed as plumbers in Canada in 2018. The median age of plumbers in Canada at that time was 37 years old with the average retirement age being 63. As job openings and job seekers are projected to be at the same levels over the next four years, the balance between those looking for a job and demand for this group of skilled workers is expected to continue due to increased demand for home construction and repair services.
Other factors contributing to growth in this trade include:
- Infrastructure investments in municipal piping systems, large scale transit projects, and educational and healthcare facilities
- A shift towards more water-efficient plumbing systems should create demand for plumbers to replace older equipment with new integrated fixtures
- Projects to improve access to clean drinking water on First Nation reserves could lead to demand for plumbers in Northern Ontario
If you are looking to get into the plumbing profession, this Career Guide will outline some of the training and career options for plumbers in Canada, and everything you need to know to find the right career path to match your personal and professional interests in this in-demand profession.
Training & Certification
To become a plumber in Canada, completion of secondary school is usually required followed by successful completion of a four- to five-year apprenticeship program or a combination of more than five years of work experience in the trade and some high school, college or industry courses in plumbing to be eligible for trade certification. Once you successfully complete the required on-the-job training, technical training and exams, you are awarded a journeyperson certificate.
An apprenticeship occurs when you gather the skills and knowledge needed to become a professional plumber while working directly on the job. You will be paid for your time during the apprenticeship period. To start an apprenticeship, you will have to get a sponsor, such as an employer, who is certified to take on apprentices. Some apprenticeship programs may require that you have at least one year of professional experience, but this can vary. In general, you will need to ensure that you are qualified to work in Canada.
Apprenticeship training programs for plumbers vary across Canada, but generally involve four, 12-month periods, including at least 6,000 hours of on-the-job training, four eight-week blocks of technical training and a final certificate exam. Related work experience or completion of a plumber program at a college or technical institute can reduce the time required to complete your apprenticeship.
This unique program introduces you to a variety of skills in the construction field with each trade-specific component running seven weeks in duration. You study and practice in plumbing, welding, HVAC and electrical trades. You receive safety training (general and … Continue reading →
Trained plumbers are always in demand. Every home and building relies on a plumber to pipe fresh water in and waste water out. This is a good career for a hardworking person who likes to solve problems. You receive training … Continue reading →
With so many people seeking plumbing apprenticeships in Ontario, two years of education can push you to the front of the line. In the second year of Sheridan’s Plumbing Technician program, you’ll learn advanced concepts that can save you hundreds … Continue reading →
The Plumbing Techniques program is an Ontario College Certificate program. Fanshawe’s plumbing courses are designed to prepare graduates for entrance into a plumbing career through the understanding of theoretical and practical aspects of the plumbing trade and the associated tools … Continue reading →
Students are provided with the theoretical knowledge and practical training to perform most basic plumbing techniques. Teamwork and project based learning are emphasized. Students engage in plumbing projects from design and drawing to implementation, working in accordance with codes and … Continue reading →
The Plumbing Techniques program is designed to give the student an understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of the plumbing and pipefitting trades and to familiarize them with the associated tools and materials. The program also provides the student … Continue reading →
The Plumbing Techniques program covers residential, commercial and industrial applications in the plumbing industry, paying particular attention to residential plumbing. It is a hands-on program that may benefit anyone seeking to enter an apprenticeship or any construction-related career path. What … Continue reading →
The Plumbing & Pipe Trades Foundation program blends in-class theory with hands-on practical skills training to prepare graduates for entry level employment and apprenticeships. Over 30 weeks you will follow a modular training system that begins by developing a wide … Continue reading →
The Advanced Plumbing Technology diploma is a unique opportunity to get the technical and career essential skills you need to succeed in the plumbing industry. The diploma program offers a direct pathway into trades training at NAIT without having to … Continue reading →
The Sheridan Mechanical Techniques – Plumbing program offers superior training and a pathway to apprenticeship as a plumber. Sheridan’s plumbing program stands out from the rest with its excellent instructors, superior equipment and facilities, and a strong reputation among employers. … Continue reading →
To begin the process of becoming an apprentice in Ontario, for example, you must first apply to the Ontario College of Trades. Plumbing apprenticeships include on-the-job training (9,000 required hours in Ontario) and in-school training (720 required hours). To complete the in-school training, which most plumbers-to-be do on a part-time basis, you must have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) with a grade 12 English credit to apply to a plumbing program. In some cases, you may also need a math credit.
These programs take two semesters or one academic year to complete. During this time, you will take courses such as plumbing tools and piping methods or welding and safety techniques. Upon completion of your college courses, you will earn a plumbing certificate. You officially become a licensed plumber when you complete both the on-the-job training portion of the apprenticeship, as well as a final exam. At the end of your apprenticeship, you will then take a three-hour exam. Upon successful completion, you will receive a Certificate of Qualification, which means you are officially a licensed plumber.
Trade certification is compulsory in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta and available, but voluntary, in Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba, British Columbia, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Red Seal endorsement is also available to qualified plumbers upon successful completion of the interprovincial Red Seal examination. You might need to get a certification from a regulatory authority before you start working if plumbers are regulated in your province or territory.
Where certification is not available, it may be possible to study as an apprentice through your local labour organization. Even where certification is voluntary, it is still recommended as it tells employers and other workers that you are a skilled professional, and it also helps you get jobs.
You may be eligible for certification in some provinces and territories if you have more than five years of construction experience and some high school, college or industry courses in plumbing.
As a certified plumber, you may write the Interprovincial Exam to qualify for the Interprovincial Standards’ Red Seal. With a Red Seal, you can work as a plumber anywhere in Canada.
To keep their skills current, plumbers must keep up with new technologies by reading and speaking with others in their field.
Some positions require plumbers to have Cross Connection Control Specialist Certification and knowledge of confined space entry. For some, the completion of a working at heights training program is necessary.
For commercial plumbers, familiarity with safety protocols such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) are required.
Skills, Knowledge & Attributes
Plumbers need to be good at communicating what the public to explain the work they do, and the costs associated, especially in residential environments where homeowners often don’t understand what is involved in making a repair or installing new systems. The ability to accurately project outcomes is a critical skill in this industry and knowing how to accurately estimate costs of labour and the hardware required to complete a job is critical to be successful.
Physical stamina and self-discipline are also needed as plumbers often perform demanding work by themselves.
Plumbers will need to know how to:
- Install, repair and maintain domestic, commercial or industrial plumbing fixtures and systems
- Locate and mark positions for pipe connections, passage holes and fixtures in walls and floors
- Cut openings in walls and floors to accommodate pipe and pipe fittings
- Measure, cut, bend and thread pipes using hand and power tools or machines
- Join pipes using couplings, clamps, screws, bolts, cement or soldering, brazing and welding equipment
- Test pipes for leaks using air and water pressure gauges
- Prepare cost estimates
Whether self-employed or working for a plumbing contractor, or union, you should be prepared to work flexible hours to respond to emergencies in the evenings and on weekends. A valid driver’s licence is also required to travel to work sites.
Residential plumbing, commercial plumbing and industrial plumbing are all common career paths for licensed professionals in this trade. Plumbing contractors often find opportunities to work with plumbing companies in construction and development jobs, while residential plumbers may work independently to build up a clientele.
Some career paths for plumbers include:
- plumber apprentice
- maintenance plumber
- plumbing mechanic
- plumbing contractor
- maintenance plumber
- fire sprinkler fitter
Plumbers can face a range of work environments and must be prepared to perform their duties in unpredictable conditions, often in circumstances when flooding occurs or when pipes burst or systems back up into a customer’s home or commercial building premises.
The job usually involves being mobile and working out of a truck or other service vehicle on site. Managers or supervisors of plumbing operations may work from an office
Plumbers may work outdoors and indoors, alone or with a team of other construction professionals. The work can be physically demanding, requiring you to stand or crouch for long periods of time, and you may have to lift heavy materials and equipment.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is a top priority. Plumbers are trained to work safely and take precautions to protect themselves against injury.
Wages can vary depending on the contract, company, location and collective agreements (if applicable), as well as local and national economic conditions. According to the federal government’s Job Bank site, plumbers can earn between $18/hour and $42/hour in Canada. With experience and certification, the average hourly wage in Canada for plumbers right now is $32.69/hour going up to $58/hour, according to Indeed. The average salary is about $62,400 to $86,010 per year. Plumbers who belong to a union will see higher salaries of about $70,000 per year or more once they have gained experience.
|Role||Average Salary in Canada|
Jennifer Brown is a journalist and communications professional with extensive experience creating engaging content internally and externally for various B2B and consumer audiences. As a journalist, she has written about and interviewed leaders in the health care, education, legal, enterprise technology and cannabis sectors.