Plumbers (NOC 7251)

About this job

Plumbers install, repair and maintain pipes, fixtures and other plumbing equipment used for water distribution and waste water disposal in residential, commercial and industrial building.

People in this occupation:

  • strictly follow the B.C. plumbing code
  • work in maintenance departments of factories, plants and similar establishments
  • may work for plumbing contractors
  • may be self-employed
  • must be able to accurately follow complex codes and rules for installation
  • must be able work without supervision and organize their own work day
  • should be able to bend and crawl into tight spaces
Common job titles
  • installer, plumbing
  • mechanic, plumbing
  • plumber, journeyman / journeywoman
  • plumber, marine / pipefitting
  • plumber, radiator
  • installer, plumbing
  • mechanic, plumbing
  • plumber, journeyman / journeywoman
  • plumber, marine / pipefitting
  • plumber, radiator

Earnings

Annual provincial median salary

$52,140

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage data

Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2016 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • High
  • Median
  • Low

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage Report

Duties

Plumbers perform some or all of the following duties:

  • read blueprints, drawings and specifications to determine layout of plumbing system, water supply network and waste and drainage systems
  • 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 opening 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
  • may prepare cost estimates

Work environment

Plumbers typically work 40 hours per week. Some plumbers may also work on an on-call basis and respond to plumbing emergencies at all hours. Plumbers who do industrial maintenance at large facilities may do shift work.

The working environment for plumbers can be cramped, dirty and noisy, depending on the job. Plumbers must be physically fit since they are required to carry heavy pipe and stand for much of the day.

Heavy lifting and working in cramped spaces can lead to muscle and joint pain. Continued use of some tools may lead to repetitive stress injuries, such as tendonitis and bursitis.

Job requirements

Education, training & qualifications

Completion of secondary school is typically required. Other requirements may include:

  • trade certification (Certificate of Qualification, Gas B License and/or Interprovincial Red Seal Endorsement) or apprentice status
  • a combination of work experience and in-school training
  • completion of three six-week periods and one eight-week period, however, part-time and distance education is available through some institutions

Apprenticeships programs:

  • may begin in secondary school, through entry-level training (foundation) programs at colleges and technical institutes or through direct entry to the workplace
  • require workers to find a sponsor employer willing to participate in the program

Plumbers are eligible for Interprovincial Standard Endorsement (Red Seal) qualification through the Industry Training Authority, which allows holders to work in any province or territory. Once plumbers pass the final examination of their accredited training program, they will achieve certification and will automatically receive Red Seal qualification.

As of July 1, 2017 when the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) came into force, you will not need significant additional training, experience, testing or assessment if your qualifications or certificates are recognized by a Canadian regulatory authority. This applies whether you were trained in Canada or internationally. Learn about labour mobility at www.workersmobility.ca. For information about labour mobility and foreign qualifications recognition, contact the B.C. regulator for your occupation.

Plumbers with 8,430 hours of documented, directly related work experience can challenge the Interprovincial Red Seal examination. For more information, please see the Industry Training Authority website at www.itabc.ca.

Skills

  • Manual Dexterity
  • Spatial Perception
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Object-Oriented
  • Motor Coordination
View skills definitions

Education programs in B.C.

The following program areas are related to this occupation:
  • Plumbing/Pipefitting

For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.

Trades training resources

Visit our trades training page at www.workbc.ca/trades to learn about apprenticeship and trades training in B.C.

Select a region to view regional outlook
Vancouver Island / Coast Mainland / Southwest Thompson-Okanagan Kootenay Cariboo Northeast North Coast & Nechako
Cariboo
Employment in 2016:
170
Average annual employment growth:
1.0%
Expected number of job openings:
60
Kootenay
Employment in 2016:
220
Average annual employment growth:
0.3%
Expected number of job openings:
50
Mainland / Southwest
Employment in 2016:
6,380
Average annual employment growth:
0.4%
Expected number of job openings:
1,430
North Coast & Nechako
Employment in 2016:
290
Average annual employment growth:
-0.1%
Expected number of job openings:
60
Northeast
Employment in 2016:
130
Average annual employment growth:
1.9%
Expected number of job openings:
60
Thompson-Okanagan
Employment in 2016:
870
Average annual employment growth:
2.2%
Expected number of job openings:
410
Vancouver Island / Coast
Employment in 2016:
1,290
Average annual employment growth:
1.2%
Expected number of job openings:
420

Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook

Insights from industry

Over the last few years low interest rates and a growing economy have resulted in a rapid increase in construction activity in B.C. Residential construction and renovations in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, southern Vancouver Island and Okanagan regions continue to be a source of plumbing work.

Commercial, institutional and industrial construction will also continue to be an important job supply for plumbers.

Technological improvements and more efficient methods are increasing the productivity of plumbers. Improved output of workers will affect the number of new jobs created. For example, if construction activity increases in the future, there may not be an equal increase in the number of plumbing jobs.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Most workers begin by working as apprentice plumbers. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, workers receive their journeymen papers and are then certified plumbers.

Those who have completed their apprenticeships typically start out working for a larger plumbing contractor/company. Experience plumbers may be promoted to a supervisory position.

More experienced plumbers may choose to work as independent contractors and start their own plumbing companies. With additional education some plumbers may become certified plumbing inspectors.

Additional resources