What Are Plumber Apprentice Jobs? (Plus How-to and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published November 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want a plumbing career, it's necessary to complete an apprenticeship program to become a licensed plumber. A plumbing apprenticeship can help you gain theoretical and practical knowledge of the trade. Understanding plumbing apprenticeships and how to become a plumber can help you decide whether it's suitable for you. In this article, we discuss plumber apprentice jobs, outline the duties of plumbing apprentices, highlight how long a plumbing apprenticeship lasts, detail how to become one, and describe their essential skills.

What are plumber apprentice jobs?

Plumber apprentice jobs are the duties and responsibilities plumbing trainees perform when working with a senior plumber. A plumbing apprentice is an individual who intends to become a plumber and works under a licensed plumber's supervision and guidance. These professionals may perform similar tasks to senior plumbers, typically assisting them with difficult problems and completing simple tasks alone.

Plumbers and apprentices may work shifts throughout the day or regular full-time schedules depending on the nature of the job. They generally work in different locations depending on the client. In most cases, plumbing clients are typically owners of commercial buildings and family homes, but every building has a plumbing system that requires a plumber's services.

Related: Apprenticeship vs. Internship: What's the Difference?

Duties of a plumber apprentice

A plumber apprentice's specific duties vary depending on the organization where they work and the client's demands. For example, the company may specialize in working in residential homes, which is more complicated than commercial buildings. Despite the differences, the following are some common duties of a plumber apprentice:

  • Maintaining plumbing systems: Performing regular maintenance checks on plumbing systems ensures the pipes remain in good condition for a long period. A plumbing apprentice assists a senior plumber during maintenance checks by assessing pipe systems and identifying leaks, blockages, and other issues.

  • Reading blueprints: When working in a facility, it's important for plumbers and apprentices to review the building's blueprint, as some walls may have important wiring or structures that prevent them from collapsing. Plumber apprentices study blueprints to identify the best location to place pipes and other systems without damaging the building.

  • Complying with provincial regulations: Provinces have standards that guide plumbers when performing their duties. Apprentices follow these standards, including relevant safety measures when installing plumbing systems and working with the building's delicate wiring system.

  • Assembling and installing pipes: When starting new construction or working with an existing building, plumbing apprentices assemble and install pipes according to the building designs to ensure that pipes don't conflict with other installations. After assembling the pipes, they install them by hanging them or nailing portions to the walls.

  • Preparing cost estimates for clients: When working with different clients, plumber apprentices are responsible for charging a client appropriately under a licensed plumber's direction. They employ their knowledge of labour, equipment, and materials to evaluate each task without undercharging or overcharging customers.

Related: What Does a Plumber Do at Work? (And How to Become One)

How long does a plumbing apprenticeship last?

The specific duration of a plumbing apprenticeship differs among situations. These programs typically run between four and five years. Multiyear plumbing apprenticeship programs ensure you earn substantial remuneration while preparing for your plumbing career.

Related: 8 of the Highest Paying Trades Positions

How to become a plumbing apprentice

The following are seven steps to become a plumbing apprentice:

1. Ensure you have the skills and determination

Becoming a plumber apprentice requires certain skills, and the program may run for up to five years. It's crucial to ensure you have a strong desire and determination to work for several years before becoming a licensed senior plumber. In addition to desire and ambition, it's important to have the necessary skills to succeed in this field.

Related: How to Start an Apprenticeship (With Benefits)

2. Earn a high school degree

Most plumbing apprenticeship programs require candidates to have a minimum of a high school diploma or an acceptable equivalent. It's especially important to complete relevant coursework in mathematics and science. Generally, these courses equip you with the fundamental knowledge to understand your duties as a plumber apprentice.

3. Attend a plumbing program at a trade school or vocational college

Although a high school diploma may qualify you for a plumbing apprenticeship program, attending a vocational college or trade school can distinguish you from other candidates. It may also increase your earnings and career prospects. These programs teach the theoretical aspects of the plumbing apprenticeship program, qualifying you for fewer classroom hours during your apprenticeship. Similarly, some of these programs connect students to companies and unions and help them secure apprenticeship roles. This can help you build your professional network and meet other professionals in the field.

4. Write a resume

As a recent high school graduate, your resume may contain little professional experience in the field. Consider outlining your skills, qualities, and achievements relevant to the plumbing field. Format your resume using a functional structure to ensure the hiring manager focuses on your skills and competencies rather than on your professional experience.

5. Find an employer

After gaining the necessary qualifications, you can apply to companies seeking apprentices, including private plumbing businesses. You can also enrol in your local union to help find an employer. It's advisable to apply to multiple companies to help increase your chances of securing an apprenticeship. After finding an employer, you may sign an apprenticeship contract and receive employee benefits, such as sick days, disability insurance, and medical insurance.

Related: Learn about Plumbing Companies in Edmonton, Alberta

6. Gain professional experience

After finding an employer, completing the required 9,000 hours of on-the-job and classroom training is necessary. During this period, you learn practical skills related to the plumbing field under a licensed plumber's guidance. You may also decide to specialize in a particular area, such as sanitary, water supply, residential, commercial, or service and repair, and thus gain specific knowledge in the field.

Related: Examples of Apprenticeship Programs (With Benefits)

7. Prepare for your licensing and certification exams

After becoming a plumber apprentice, it's advisable to start preparing for your certification of qualification examination. Also, after the certification of qualification examination, you can take the Red Seal plumbing examination. This exam allows you to practise in all provinces without certification.

Related: How to Become a Plumber in 6 Steps (Plus Duties and Skills)

Essential skills for plumbing apprentices

The following are some essential skills to help you succeed as a plumbing apprentice:

Physical skills

Plumber apprentices and plumbers typically work with heavy machines and equipment. It's important to have the following physical skills:

  • Flexibility: It's useful for you to be limber enough to reach all the necessary locations and fit in tight areas, such as under cabinets or inside walls.

  • Good vision: It's vital for you to have good eyesight, as it enables you to work in dim environments and use small tools, such as gauges.

  • Motor skills: It's crucial to have fine motor skills to handle and use tools and equipment effectively.

  • Physical strength and endurance: Physical strength and endurance are essential to lift and hold large pipes for extended periods and tighten fittings and clamps.

Problem-solving skills

Knowing how to identify problems and derive their creative solutions is indispensable. Some plumbing problems may not have clear solutions and thus may require you to work with complex systems. It's important for you to apply your critical thinking skills and theoretical knowledge to identify the problem and find solutions.

Communication skills

Excellent written and verbal communication skills are essential for plumbers. Plumbers work with supervisors and managers, so it's important for you to discuss with them and contribute ideas to address issues. These professionals work for clients who may not understand the issues or solutions to these problems. It's also necessary for you to know how to explain technical terms and solutions in simple language.

In addition, your responsibilities as a plumbing apprentice may include writing reports. As a result, it's important for you to have a functional understanding of grammar, proper spelling, and vocabulary. You may also perform other administrative duties that require writing, such as taking inventory, tracking expenses, and ordering supplies.

Related: What Are Plumber Skills? (With Tips to Learn Them)

Interpersonal skills

You work with supervisors, managers, electricians, and clients as a plumbing apprentice. You may also interact with other professionals in the industry during the theoretical aspect of the apprenticeship program. It's useful for you to know how to work and interact with others. This skill can help you build sustainable professional relationships that may benefit you as your career advances.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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