Plumbers

(NOC 7251)

in All Trades and Transportation

Plumbers plan, install and repair piping and other equipment used to move, store or dispose of water, gas and sewage. They work for maintenance departments of factories, plants, and similar businesses, for plumbing contractors, or they may be self-employed.

Job Outlook

average

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  • Estimate Strong growth employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 195 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

  • Estimate 4040 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 8425 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Outlook for Plumbers: average, which suggests the chances of a qualified individual finding work is similar to the average for all occupations in Nova Scotia.

Size of the occupation in Nova Scotia: large, with regular job opportunities.

Job openings: employment is expected to grow significantly, providing additional openings. Several hospital projects are expected to create employment growth in the near-term. Retirements will create some opportunities.

Work hours: full-time, normally. Both permanent and temporary positions are common.

Self-employment: a good portion of the workforce is self-employed, so having the option to "work for yourself" may appeal to some individuals’ interests/motivations.

Strong growth in the construction industry, especially in the Halifax region, has resulted in high demand for many skilled trades. Demand is highest for full-trained journeymen. Fewer opportunities are available for apprentices or those with less experience. Those who are willing to work non-traditional hours (i.e. evenings and weekends) may be able to access more job opportunities. Self-employment is also an option for many persons in this occupation.

Hourly Pay

$15.00

Minimum

$25.00

Median

$38.06

Maximum

Annual Pay

$10,925

Minimum

$44,190

Median

$80,400

Maximum

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

Hourly Pay

$15.00

Minimum

$24.00

Median

$37.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$7,580

Minimum

$37,269

Median

$79,787

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Plumbers plan, install and repair piping and other equipment used to move, store or dispose of water, gas and sewage. They work for maintenance departments of factories, plants, and similar businesses, for plumbing contractors, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

Plumbers:

  • 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 holes in walls and floors to accommodate pipe and pipe fittings.
  • Select the type and size of pipe required.
  • Measure, cut, bend and thread pipes using hand and power tools or machines.
  • Assemble and install valves and fittings.
  • Join pipe sections and secure them in position.
  • Test pipe systems for leaks.
  • Complete finishing work like installing sinks, tubs and toilets.
  • May prepare cost estimates.

Sample job titles

  • apprentice plumber
  • maintenance and repair plumber
  • plumber
  • plumber - pipefitting
  • plumber apprentice
  • plumbing installer
  • plumbing mechanic
  • residential construction plumber

Skills

  • Strength, stamina, coordination and agility.
  • Mechanical aptitude.
  • Math and planning skills.
  • Patience and the ability to follow instructions.
  • Be safety aware and show attention to detail.
  • The ability to work alone or with others.
  • The ability to work in cramped and awkward conditions.
  • The ability to work with little supervision.

Job requirements

  • High school or equivalent.
  • Training through a 7,200-hour apprenticeship program with four apprenticeship levels: to become an apprentice you first need to have a job - enter an apprenticeship agreement either directly through an employer or after graduating from a college-level pre-apprenticeship program; learn on the job, mentored by a certified journeyperson who signs off on skills in a logbook.
  • Trade Qualifier option, 10,800 hours and other criteria.
  • Certification for plumbers is compulsory in Nova Scotia.
  • Write and score a minimum of 70% on the Red Seal exam for plumbers.
  • Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) allows for interprovincial mobility.

Other considerations

  • Setting: Varies by job. Little protection from weather when roughing in, but more protection when finishing. Sometimes at heights or in confined spaces.
  • May stand all day or work in cramped, awkward positions. May need to lift heavy items. Plumbers can work on their own or in a team.
  • There is risk of injury when working with rough metals, power tools and pipe-joining equipment.
  • Materials: Plumbers work with copper, steel, plastic, glass, cast iron, cement, fibreglass, and specialty materials.
  • Equipment: Plumbers use welding, soldering, and hoisting and lifting equipment.
  • Apprentices usually earn a percentage of the journeyperson (fully qualified) rate. This percentage increases as each level of the apprenticeship program is completed.
  • Experienced plumbers may advance to positions like foreman or estimator, transfer their skills to other pipe trades, or start their own contracting business.
  • Everyone has fair access to participate and succeed in the apprenticeship system. Everyone who develops the necessary skills and abilities should be able to succeed in the trades and trade qualification system. Work environments in the province support women and equity-seeking communities.

By the numbers

Quick look

1,160

employed in 2016

89.2%

employed full-time

18.1%

self employed

1.7%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
98.3%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
39.8

median age

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

57,925

employed in 2016

85.9%

employed full-time

11.8%

self employed

5.3%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
94.7%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
46.8

median age

Where will I likely work?

41.2%

Halifax

$49,764 median annual income
18.0%

North Shore

$37,366 median annual income
17.2%

Annapolis Valley

$45,822 median annual income
12.0%

Southern

$41,260 median annual income
11.6%

Cape Breton

$42,968 median annual income

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

83.2%

Construction

4.6%

Public administration

4.6%

Educational services

1.5%

Real estate and rental and leasing

1.0%

Retail trade

What is the age of Employment?

26.0%

25-34

22.0%

35-44

19.0%

45-54

17.0%

55-64

11.0%

15-24

5.0%

65+

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

24.4%

45-54

22.1%

55-64

17.7%

35-44

17.7%

25-34

10.9%

15-24

Top levels of education

50.9%

Trade Certification

$47,412 median annual income
37.5%

College Diploma

$45,940 median annual income
7.3%

High school

$34,447 median annual income
2.2%

Less than high school

$15,032 median annual income
2.2%

Bachelor

N/A

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

29.2%

Trade Certification

$46,494 median annual income
25.5%

High school

$31,260 median annual income
22.3%

College Diploma

$42,050 median annual income
18.7%

Less than high school

$28,319 median annual income
2.8%

Bachelor

$30,527 median annual income

Education & training

Apprenticeship - Plumber

Apprenticeship Program

Apprenticeship is a structured training program leading to certification in the skilled trades. An apprenticeship combines supervised on-the-job training and experience with theoretical technical training. You find a job in your trade first and then enter into an apprenticeship agreement. You work 7,200 hours mentored by a certified journeyperson and gain the required skills and knowledge. You also take some technical courses. The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency administers the trades training and certification system. A plumber apprenticeship prepares apprentices to apply technical knowledge and skills to plan, assemble, install and repair piping and other equipment used to move, store or dispose of water, gas and sewage.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

Halifax, NS

High School Diploma or Equivalent

High School Program

Adults without a high school diploma can contact the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) for tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL oversees adult education programs in Nova Scotia. NSSAL partners with the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations to deliver programs. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Pipefitter and Sprinkler Fitter - Pre-apprenticeship College Program

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to design, install, and test industrial and commercial piping systems and automatic fire and exposure protection systems. They include courses in water systems, steam systems, heating and cooling systems, lubricating systems, piping materials, installation tools operation and maintenance, valve installation and repair, technical mathematics, blueprint interpretation, and applicable codes and standards.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

UA 56 Pipe Trades Career College Inc.

Dartmouth, NS

Plumber - Pre-apprenticeship College Program

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to practice as licensed plumbers by applying technical knowledge and skills to lay out, assemble, install, and maintain piping fixtures and systems for steam, natural gas, oil, hot water, heating, cooling, drainage, lubricating, in home and business environments. They include courses in source determination, water distribution, waster removal, pressure adjustment, basic physics, technical mathematics, blueprint reading, pipe installation, pumps, welding and soldering, plumbing inspection, and applicable codes and standards.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Trade Qualifier

Trades Program

The Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency also offers a path to trades certification outside of a formal apprenticeship agreement with a qualified journeyperson. This option includes a set amount of required hours of related experience in the trade, passing a certification exam, and other criteria. Contact the Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency for more details.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

Halifax, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Plumber

Compulsory Certification (Mandatory): This is a regulated designated trade in Nova Scotia. Individuals must hold a Certification of Qualification, be a registered apprentice, or hold a temporary work permit to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
Halifax, NS

Contacts

Construction Association of Nova Scotia
Dartmouth, NS
BuildForce Canada
Ottawa, ON
Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council
Halifax, NS
Atlantic Home Building and Renovation Sector Council
Halifax, NS
Mainland Nova Scotia Building Trades
Lakeside, NS
Cape Breton Island Building and Construction Trade Council
Sydney, NS