Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers (NOC 7252)

Minimum education: College or apprenticeship

  • Average salary
    78.3%
  • Occupation size
    60.0%
  • Job stability
    12.0%
  • Demand growth
    86.0%
  • Below Average
  • Excellent

Profile last updated: December 3, 2015

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01 Overview

Steamfitters and pipefitters design, assemble, install, maintain, troubleshoot and repair pipes carrying water, steam, chemicals and fuel in heating, cooling, lubricating and other process piping systems. A steamfitter is a pipefitter who specializes in high-pressure liquid or gas piping.

Sprinkler system installers design, assemble, install, maintain and repair water, foam, carbon dioxide and dry chemical sprinkler systems in buildings for fire protection purposes.

People in these occupations:

  • are employed in the maintenance departments of factories, plants and similar establishments or by pipefitting and sprinkler system contractors
  • may be self-employed
  • should enjoy working on large scale systems at a detailed level
  • require a combination of skills
  • need good welding skills for steamfitting and pipefitting
  • need a solid foundation in electronics for installing sprinkler systems

02 Earnings

Provincial median salary

$72,996

Source: Estimated median employment income based on 2015 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

  • $17.00/hr
    Low
  • $35.00/hr
    Median
  • $45.00/hr
    High

03 Duties

People in these occupations perform some or all of the following duties:

  • read and interpret drawings, blueprints and specifications to determine layout requirements and cut openings for pipes in walls, floors and ceilings using power tools or machines
  • select the type and size of pipe required and measure, cut, thread and bend it to required shape
  • weld, braze, cement, solder and thread joints to join pipes and fabricate sections of piping system, as well as install supports, valves, piping and control systems
  • test existing piping systems for leaks
  • clean and maintain pipe units and fittings, remove and replace worn components, and flush and reactivate systems
  • prepare cost estimates for clients

Sprinkler System Installers

People in this occupation perform some or all of the following duties:

  • read and interpret drawings, specifications and fire codes to determine layout requirements
  • install clamps, brackets and hangers to support sprinkler equipment using hand and power tools
  • select, measure, cut, ream and thread pipe, install sprinkler heads and mount prepared pipe in supports
  • join pipes and piping sections using soldering and welding equipment
  • connect finished piping systems to water mains, supply tanks, pumps, compressors and control equipment
  • install valves, alarms, controls and associated equipment
  • service and repair sprinkler systems, and test systems for leaks using air or liquid pressure equipment
  • prepare cost estimates for clients

04 Work environment

Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers typically work a standard 40 hour week. Those working at factories and plants may be required to work nights and weekends or work shifts. Some overtime may also be required to meet deadlines.

Work may be located both indoors and outdoors. Outdoor work environments may be noisy and dirty, and workers may be exposed to adverse weather conditions. Some workers may be required to travel or temporarily relocate to remote locations while working on particular projects.

Steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers are often required to work at heights from scaffolds and ladders. They may also be required to carry heavy items, such as pipes, during their workday. Work may also be conducted in cramped and awkward spaces.

Potential hazards include falls from heights and cuts and burns from hot pipes or equipment. These workers adhere to safety procedures, especially when dealing with liquids and gases under high pressure, to minimize risks from hazards. These workers follow safety procedures, especially when dealing with liquids and gases under high pressure, to minimize risks.

05 Workforce and employment statistics

Workforce characteristics

2,100 workers are employed
42 % of workers are working mostly full time

Employment by gender

Labour force by age group

Source: 2011 National Household Survey

06 Job requirements

Education, training and qualifications

Steamfitters, Pipefitters and Sprinkler System Installers are usually required to complete secondary school. Other requirements include:

  • completion of a four-year apprenticeship program (or a combination of over four years of work experience and some college or industry courses in steamfitting, pipefitting or sprinkler system installation) is required to be eligible for trade certification
  • trade certification is not required to work as a steamfitter, pipefitter or sprinkler system installer in B.C., but workers with certification will likely have more employment opportunities
  • apprenticeship programs may begin in secondary school, through entry-level training (foundation) programs at colleges and technical institutes or through direct entry to the workplace
  • all apprenticeship programs involve a combination of work experience and technical training, and require workers to find a sponsor employer willing to participate in the program

For more information, please see the Industry Training Authority website at www.itabc.ca.

Interprovincial Standards Red Seal certification is available to qualified steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers through the Industry Training Authority, which allows holders to work in any province or territory.

Once individuals pass the final examination of their accredited training program, they will achieve certification and will automatically receive Red Seal qualification

For more detailed information, contact the provincial regulator. A list of provincial regulators can be found at: www.tilma.ca/pdf/BCRegulatoryAuthorities.pdf.

Workers with several years of documented, directly related work experience can challenge the Interprovincial Red Seal examination.

For program information on public post-secondary education in B.C., please see the Education Planner website at: www.educationplanner.ca.

07 Subject Areas & Training Resources

Education Planner

www.educationplanner.ca

Trades/Apprenticeship Resources

Industry Training Authority

www.itabc.ca

Trades Training BC

www.tradestrainingbc.ca

ACE-IT

www.itabc.ca/youth/programs#ace-it

Discover Skills BC

www.discoverskillsbc.ca

08 Career paths

With experience, steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers can advance to supervisory positions or establish their own businesses.

09Employment outlook

Provincial and Regional Outlook data used for this occupation is based on its occupation group: Plumbers, pipefitters and gas fitters (NOC 725)

N/A - Data not available or not provided due to data quality issues

Provincial Outlook:

Unemployment rate

  • 10.5%
    2014
  • 10.4%
    2019
  • 9.6%
    2024

Competitiveness of job market

Ratio of number of unemployed people to the number of total job openings.

  • 8:1
    2014
  • 3:1
    2019
  • 6:1
    2024

10 Insights from industry

The demand for steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers in B.C. is driven largely by the construction industry. About one-half of new openings will result from new job growth. This industry has experienced rapid growth in its commercial, industrial and residential sectors, creating a demand for skilled workers.

In northern B.C., many steamfitters and pipefitters work in resource-based industries, such as forestry and mining, oil and gas. These resource industries have experienced strong economic growth as a result of rising global commodity prices.

Manufacturing activity has seen limited growth due to the impact of U.S. export duties, a strong Canadian dollar, increased international competition and the damage caused by fires and pine beetle infestations, leading to closures and downsizing of older mills. These factors will limit the opportunities for steamfitters, pipefitters and sprinkler system installers in the manufacturing industry.

The demand for qualified sprinkler system installers has increased in recent years as building code requirements have mandated the use of more extensive sprinkler systems. Piping and sprinkler systems are increasingly being monitored and controlled by microprocessor signal control panels, and workers with knowledge of programming or other advanced skills may have an employment advantage.

11 Additional resources