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Becoming a plumber in Ontario.

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  • Jun 27th, 2014 12:22 am
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Deal Addict
Jul 13, 2012
1751 posts
135 upvotes
Ottawa

Becoming a plumber in Ontario.

Ok, here's my situation. I am a 28 year old Ontario resident with a degree in basket weaving. Unfortunately, I have not had much success in finding a career-type job; for the past few years I've had an office job but don't see any possibility of advancement.

Recently, I have been looking at the skilled trades, particularly plumbing. I've been looking through the process, and have a few questions::

1) Would plumbing companies be willing to hire me even though I am older than the typical applicant (28 vs someone who is 20 or 21)?

2) Would the fact that I don't have any experience in that line of work or related work matter?

3) Would the fact I have a degree be held against me? I am actually interested in doing trades work, but I don't want employers to think I will leave as soon as a basket weaving job opens up.

4) Would I need to buy or lease a car to start? IWhat other initial costs (tools, etc) can I expect?

Any advice would be appreciated.
7 replies
Deal Addict
Aug 14, 2012
1377 posts
170 upvotes
AB
1) Yes
2) I won't sugar coat it, you want to be mechanically inclined to be a good plumber and it does help to have some kind of construction background. Loading tools, taking measurements, reading from blueprints, installing things to spec. It's not required. All that's required is you can convince someone to take you on as an apprentice, whether it's big union or small independent contractor or any company in between. Some type of related background in the trades would help. But required? No.
3) Against you? Not really in my personal opinion. But it comes down to the opinion of the person hiring you. Some plumbers make good money especially those who own their own business. I have heard of some making 200k+/year if they run a tight ship and know the business end of things as well as the trade end of things. I doubt they worry about you leaving. Apprentices come and go like the wind, its the getting signed on thats the hard part. I doubt this is much of a concern from their end of things.
4) It really helps most jobs in the trades to have a vehicle BUT it might not be required. You will slowly be expected to get your own tools, I'd start with the basics and work your way up as needed. You'll know as you go. You might even ask in an interview what tools you'll need to start so you know what to buy asap.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Jul 13, 2012
1751 posts
135 upvotes
Ottawa
Thanks for your assistance. I'm curious if anyone has any ideas on ways I could gain pre-apprenticeship experience or education while still working at my current job. I plan on borrowing some books from the library so I have at least some "academic" experience. Are there any weekend, part time jobs out there that could help?
Deal Addict
Aug 14, 2012
1377 posts
170 upvotes
AB
I'm not a plumber so I don't feel like I am the best help to you hear unfortunately. Maybe someone more experienced can chime in. You can always check out some plumbing forums. I am just kind of passing off my experience trying to get into electrical, as the 2 trades are similiar in some ways.

You might try work at a supply shop. Trouble is (at least for electrical, where I live) most true contractor supply shops are monday to friday, 7-5 type things as their main customers are of course professional contractors. That would be your best way to meet people in industry. Next is your Lowes/Home Depots/etc.. you get the ODD plumber doing side jobs for family/cash on the weekend and need parts, there are professionals who shop there no doubt, but obviously they gravitate to their suppliers first, big box stores distant second. I've worked in these type of shops before, by far 99% of your crowd is the DIYer homeowner who wants advice from non-professional sales associates. There are some knowledgeable people at these stores, does it help them get plumbing jobs, I think it's a bit of a longshot.

Books are good, get educated and it will help you feel smarter as an apprentice. If you have a home, try doing your own plumbing projects after reading and getting a sense of what's required.

You can always apply to your local union and see if/when/how they recruit apprentices. Electrical is getting popular and some of the locals only take in apprentices once a year, I wouldn't be surprised if plumbing is similiar.

There are pre-apprentice full-time programs at some of the colleges like Sheridan and probably others, but you work full-time days so that might be a problem. I suggest buying a book on studying mechanical aptitude and how things "work" in general as you will almost surely be given an aptitude test if applying to a union. I just bought this one I haven't had a chance to go through it yet - http://www.amazon.ca/Barrons-Mechanical ... 538&sr=8-1

Be prepared to answer "so why do you want to be a plumber".

Best of luck to you, maybe some others have more advice but as far as I know, most plumbers/electricians/tradespeople work days, deal with supply houses that run generally the same hours as they do. Unless you can find a trade school that runs at nights :/ Try the Pre Apprentice Training Institute, they graduate people full-time days in shorter time frames then the big ontario colleges..how fast I am not sure.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Jun 10, 2008
596 posts
70 upvotes
I am in the same boat as the OP. I am considering a program in plumbing, but would like to get more information about the job from a plumber.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Dec 28, 2004
630 posts
53 upvotes
Montreal
I'm a plumber in Montreal. Went to plumbing school at age 20. The program is about 18 months and is required to get hired by a plumbing cie, at least in Quebec.
The job is usually divided in 3 big catogories.

1. service plumber: You install plumbing fixtures, repair plumbing issues(drains, water lines) and do renovations. Mostly in residential (house to multiplex)
2.new construction: you install all the plumbing from A to Z ... reading plans is a must, you wake up earlier and being fast is a huge plus, it's more physical but less stresfull since you don't deal with clients one on one like a service plumber does.
3. heating: you install heating system(water based) and fix heating issues. Gas cards required. It is the hardest part in plumbing, you need alot of experience and the condition are not always the best (emergency call when it's -20 lol) but when you make your name it pays the most.

I'm sure you have many other questions, i'll be glad to answer them ! I'm now 30 Y.O have my own cie and i make a very good living, if your under 30 it's not too late to start a trade !
Jr. Member
Apr 20, 2014
129 posts
2 upvotes
Toronto, ON
Degree in basket weaving? Am sorry OP but which college offers that?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 7, 2011
1252 posts
129 upvotes
KW
ConsoleWatcher wrote:
Dec 11th, 2012 6:13 pm
Ok, here's my situation. I am a 28 year old Ontario resident with a degree in basket weaving. Unfortunately, I have not had much success in finding a career-type job; for the past few years I've had an office job but don't see any possibility of advancement.

Recently, I have been looking at the skilled trades, particularly plumbing. I've been looking through the process, and have a few questions::

1) Would plumbing companies be willing to hire me even though I am older than the typical applicant (28 vs someone who is 20 or 21)?

2) Would the fact that I don't have any experience in that line of work or related work matter?

3) Would the fact I have a degree be held against me? I am actually interested in doing trades work, but I don't want employers to think I will leave as soon as a basket weaving job opens up.

4) Would I need to buy or lease a car to start? IWhat other initial costs (tools, etc) can I expect?

Any advice would be appreciated.
Recent 25 Yr senior manager for a large multi-trade contractor in Ontario:

1 - You are not atypical - I never hire under 25 as a rule unless it is a nepotism type thing, I have started apprentices in their 40's. Maturity and showing up for work everyday >> youth.
2 - None of us had any experience at first - in truth we don't expect much really, that's why it is an apprenticeship and you get paid $hit the first couple years. Having a man lift ticket, whimis, fall arrest certification, zoom/fork lift ticket is worth a lot more when you are first looking for a job than pre-apprenticeship courses which are mostly redundant and limits you to applying to one trade.
3 - A LOT of those dirty handed people you see on job sites have degrees - lose the stereotype. Don't wear a suit to an interview.
4 - Yes and don't spend more than $500 on it, job site parking is fraught with hazards, your car will be perma-filthy inside and out. Have a basic set of hand tools, nothing fancy, $500 tops, green patch boots, safety glasses, reflective vest and a hardhat - construction hiring is panic hiring - so be ready to go and if they call they won't care about how next week works better for you - they just call someone else.

Ultimately bang on a lot of doors, try multiple trades, most guys that get in will tell you it all came down to catching the right guy at the right time as much as anything.
Joe Greps WTF comment of the week award:
Posted by Si98
"Emotions and lack of intelligence is why democracy doesn't work well. 9 out of 10 people have an IQ of 100 or less."
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