How to Become a Plumber in Canada

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Plumbers conduct the installation, repair and maintenance of piping systems in new and remodeled homes and commercial and institutional buildings. A plumber's regular work week is 40 hours long, can be physically demanding and typically involves indoor and outdoor work in individual and group settings. The average salary for a journeyman plumber ranges between C$54,080 and C$72,800. However, it will take several years of apprenticeship to reach those income levels.

Apprenticeship Path

Complete at least four years of secondary school. While this is the minimum academic requirement, a strong mathematics focus throughout secondary school is recommended and it may be necessary to complete a post-secondary education segment of training.

Find an employer who is willing to train a new apprentice. Individuals wishing to become apprentices typically submit an application directly to an employer or union. Upon agreement, sign a contract of apprenticeship or a training contract with the employer and representative from your province's Apprenticeship Board.

Complete 9,000 hours, approximately four-and-a-half years, of a combination of classroom learning and on-the-job training through the apprenticeship program. Approximately 80 percent of plumber education is devoted to learning practical career-related skills under the direction of a qualified plumber. In-school instruction takes place in college or other approved training organizations. Approximately one year after an individual is registered, the apprentice commences classroom learning. The three components involved in classroom learning are basic, intermediate and advanced skills and these components are spread out over the length of the apprenticeship program.

Take and pass the Certification of Qualification trade certification examination with a minimum score of 70 percent. This exam necessitates a detailed understanding of relevant codes and the operation of a number of plumbing systems. This certification for plumbers is required in most provinces and territories, but is a voluntary process in others. Even where certification is voluntary, it is recommended because most employers now expect it before making an offer of employment.

There is a nonrefundable fee for a background check on your experience and you must provide contact information for all previous positions so your experience requirement can be confirmed.

Take the Red Seal Plumbing Exam, administered by the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA). This is an interprovincial program that allows plumbers to apply for work in any province or territory without the necessity of re-certification in each. Preparation for this exam can be taken by obtaining a copy of the National Occupational Analysis (NOA) which details the tasks and sub-tasks that may be addressed.


For individuals with relevant work experience, submit an application to the provincial authority with a completed Confirmation of Work Experience form. The application must document a minimum of 9,000 hours of plumbing-related experience and include a description of the work the applicant performed. An individual with over five years of construction experience and some high school, college or industry courses in plumbing may also apply for certification.