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Occupational Profile
Apprenticeship

Plumber

Plumbers plan, install and service plumbing systems, fixtures, piping equipment and controls. Piping systems may be used to transport water, waste, gases or hot liquids.

  • Avg. Salary $77,256.00
  • Avg. Wage $37.18
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook Down
  • Employed 11,000
  • In Demand Lower
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

82%
82%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
NOC & Interest Codes
The Plumber is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Plumbers
NOC code: 7251
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to measure, cut, bend and thread pipes using machines and hand and power tools

innovative

Interest in compiling information to repair plumbing fixtures and systems, and to test pipes for leaks using air and water pressure gauges

methodical

Interest in speaking - signalling to locate and mark positions for pipe connections, passage holes and fixtures in walls and floors

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Dec 20, 2016

On a typical construction job, plumbers do the roughing in after the frame and roof of a new building are in place. In other words, they:

  • study the building plans and specifications to determine the layout for plumbing and related materials
  • locate and mark positions for connections and fixtures
  • cut holes through walls and floors to accommodate pipes
  • select the type and size of pipe required and measure, cut, thread, bend, clamp, solvent cement or solder pipe
  • assemble and install valves and fittings
  • join pipe sections and secure them in position
  • test pipe systems for leaks
  • install underground storm sanitary and water piping systems.

Plumbers return to the construction site after plasterers or drywallers, tilesetters and floor covering installers have completed their work to do finishing work such as installing sinks, tubs and toilets.

Plumbers may specialize in the types of work they do:

  • installing water conditioners
  • installing plumbing in houses under construction
  • installing plumbing in commercial, institutional, industrial or public buildings
  • renovating, maintaining and repairing existing plumbing
  • installing hydronic heating and chilled water systems.

In smaller communities, plumbers generally do a wider variety of plumbing and plumbing-related jobs such as installing private sewage disposal systems and potable water distribution systems.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Working conditions vary from one job to another. There is little protection from the weather when plumbers are roughing in, more protection for finishing, and often comfortable conditions for maintenance and repair work. Plumbers may stand all day, work in cramped, awkward positions, or be required to lift and move items that weigh over 25 kilograms. 

There is some risk of injury when working with rough metals, power tools and pipe-joining equipment. 

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Plumbers need the following characteristics:

  • physical strength, stamina and agility 
  • mechanical ability
  • the ability to work alone or with others.

They should enjoy a variety of working conditions and working with little supervision.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 20, 2016

To work in Alberta, a plumber must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 20-2, Math 20-3 and Science 10, or equivalent, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates.

The term of apprenticeship is 4 years (four 12 month periods) that include a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year. High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification. However, Gasfitters (A) or (B) who are certified in Alberta and want to be certified as plumbers as well must apprentice in the plumber trade.

Plumber apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • Grande Prairie Regional College in Fairview
  • Lethbridge College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton 
  • Red Deer College
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.


Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Apprenticeship Trades

Grande Prairie Regional College

Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 20, 2016

This is an Apprenticeship trade. For full details, see the related certification profile

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Plumbers are employed by construction contractors, plumbing repair shops and large organizations. Some are self-employed. Their employment prospects vary considerably with seasonal and economic climates.

Experienced plumbers may move into supervisory positions such as foreman or estimator, or start their own contracting businesses. Alberta certified journeyperson plumbers who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

In Alberta, 83% of plumbers work in the Construction (PDF) industry.

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the Construction industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 11,000 Albertans are employed in the Pumbers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.1% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 11 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.  

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Journeyperson wage rates vary but generally range from $28 to $37 an hour plus benefits (2014 figures). Apprentice plumbers earn at least 50% of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 60% in the second, 70% in the third and 80% in the fourth.

Plumbers
NOC code: 7251

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $17.50 $42.50 $33.12 $35.00
Overall $30.00 $42.50 $37.18 $37.00
Top $32.00 $48.10 $40.54 $41.00

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

A: High Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

High Reliability, represents a CV of less than or equal to 6.00% and 30 survey observations and/or represents 50% or more of all estimated employment for the occupation.


Industry Information
Health Care & Social Assistance
Construction
ALBERTA, ALL INDUSTRIES
Educational Services
Public Administration

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

82%
82%

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

42%
42%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

24%
24%

2015 Vacancy Rate

5%
Related High School Subjects
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Construction
    • Fabrication
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 20, 2016

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

BuildForce Canada website: www.buildforce.ca

Calgary Construction Association website: www.cca.cc

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 29, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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