Industry Insights

How to Become a Plumbing Apprentice: Tips for Success from Business Owners

April 27, 2021

At Support Ontario Youth, we believe that apprenticeships are a great path to a lucrative and fulfilling career. Even within the trades, you have an array of options to find a path you will enjoy. For those interested in a plumbing apprenticeship, you may be wondering what that will look like and the steps behind it. We talked to a couple business owners about their plumbing apprenticeship. Here’s what they had to say:

How did you know the plumbing trade was right for you?

Dan – You need to ask a lot of questions, like “what skills are involved?”. Basic math is required; it’s not overly complicated, but you have to grasp the basic concepts. You need to like working with your hands and in a team environment. If you can’t work well with others, it’s probably not the right fit for you. You also have to have good time management skills.

Matt – I would say consider your natural abilities and work ethic. It’s a physical job, and at times it can be frustrating. If you can handle that, it is a great trade where you get to do something different each day and learn new things. It would be a good idea to talk to friends in other trades and see if it would be a good fit before you start.

What education is required by the Ministry to start an apprenticeship?

Dan and Matt – You need a minimum of a Grade 10 high school education or its equivalent to get started.

What education do employers expect you to have to start a plumbing apprenticeship?

Dan – Nobody really expects you to have anything above high-school.

Matt – I would say, high-school or college level. If you only have high school, don’t let that deter you at all. It shouldn’t change your ability to get a good apprenticeship as long as you are a hard worker and show a reasonable skill level.

What can you do if you are still in high school to help you find an employer to start a plumbing apprenticeship?

Dan – Try a training program! Give it a shot for six months to see if it is a good fit for you. Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) is also an excellent option for students. You could also try a pre-apprenticeship program which most major colleges offer.

Matt – Contact Support Ontario Youth (SOY). They can help you find what options are available to you and get you started on the right track. You can also check online job search platforms. Whatever you do, just be honest on your resume and be clear that you are willing to 100 per cent commit and work hard for the opportunity. You have to be proactive. Drop off resumes or make an offer to a local plumbing shop for a co-op placement to get your foot in the door. No matter how you get started, be the hardest worker once you are there. That’s what is most important.

What characteristics and skillset are required to do well in the trade in order to become a quality plumber?

Dan – You need to have a positive attitude. Be a problem solver, open-minded, good with technology, self-motivated, eager, willing to learn, and continue to educate yourself. It’s great if you are familiar or good with technology. You need to be able to use a computer and work on projects and tasks with little supervision.

Matt – I agree. You need a strong work ethic, and the ability to work well with others, as well as a positive attitude. You need to be confident and thorough, honest and fair, physically fit, well-spoken, and detail oriented. These are all just suggestions, but they are traits that come in handy in our field.

What organizations were involved in your learning as an apprentice?

Dan – I have used colleges, third-party companies for safety training and WHMIS, and some internal training within my employment.

Matt – I have dealt mostly with colleges and Support Ontario Youth (SOY). I would highly encourage anyone who is looking for a career in any trade to contact SOY. They take the guesswork out of the process and have your back the whole way through. You don’t have to do all the steps on your own. They have been there to help me each step of the way.

Bottom line, becoming a licensed plumber in Ontario starts with employment for your apprenticeship. This can be hard if you have no experience or contacts. The consensus among those looking for an entry-level apprenticeship position, is that it can be very tough. Don’t be discouraged – many of our apprentices started as entry-level candidates and are thriving today – you just have to keep pursuing your dream.

Below are a few resources, so you can hear what others had to say about how they got started. There’s also some great advice in these. Take some time to watch them through and listen how they found work to start their career in the trades.

  • Plumbing webinar – What’s your job as a professional apprentice? The Q&A portion addresses “finding a job” at around the 29-minute mark.
  • Is it appropriate to cold call when looking for a job? – Listen to employers answer this question for those looking for work.
  • Apprenticeship 101 Webinar with CAF – SOY and Canadian Apprenticeship Forum (CAF) collaborated on this We featured a couple of SOY’s apprentices. They address the question “finding a job”. As you listen, you’ll hear their passion on how much they had to stay encouraged to find their way in. About 20 minutes you’ll see their interview.

If you have questions on how to follow your dreams in becoming a plumbing apprentice, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are available to you for help regarding apprenticeships in Ontario. 

How to Become a Plumbing Apprentice: Tips for Success from Business Owners

Related Topics: Apprenticeship Construction Employment Plumbing

This Employment Ontario Program is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.