We love busting myths about the skilled trades—and plumbing myths are some of the worst out there!
If you're even considering becoming a plumber, getting accurate information on training, careers, and the field in general is crucial. You need this info to make an informed decision about your future.
So this week, we're setting the record straight on 9 common plumber misconceptions. Let's get started.
Myth #1: You don't need certification to become a plumber in Ontario
Busted. Plumber is a regulated trade in Ontario. You need to fulfill strict training requirements and pass an exam to earn your Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) and legally work as a plumber. There are no shortcuts.
Usually, the first step is completing a pre-apprenticeship plumber program. This is where you'll get a good foundation in plumbing skills and codes, which will help you land a good apprenticeship.
A quality trades school will connect you with local employers, and help you with this process. To see all the official requirements and steps to becoming a plumber, check out this handy fact sheet from the Ontario College of Trades.
Myth #2: All plumbers do is fix toilets & unclog pipes
Ok, so plumbers do fix toilets and unclog pipes—but this is only a small part of what the job involves. In fact, some plumbers don't work on toilets at all!
There are quite a few ways to specialize in this field. Plumbers can become:
- specialists in fire suppression sprinkler systems
- sales specialists
- industrial plumbers
- commercial plumbers
- residential plumbers
Tools, challenges, fixtures, and daily work tasks vary a lot, depending on which path you take. Industrial plumbers, for example, usually work on boilers, site sewer lines, and industrial grade pipes and fixtures.
Meanwhile, pipefitters and steamfitters focus on laying out, assembling, and maintaining piping systems that carry water, steam, chemicals, and fuel. They often work at power plants and factories.
Learn more here: Residential VS Commercial Plumber Career: 4 Main Differences
Myth #3: Plumbers don't need strong people skills
This couldn't be further from the truth. Customer service and teamwork are key requirements for success as a plumber.
On any given job site, you could easily be working around electricians, gas fitters, and carpenters. The more easily you get along with others, the better.
Plus, when plumbers work in people's homes, they need good communication skills to build trust and put the client at ease. This is what gets you referrals and positive reviews.
Plumbers don't just show up and silently get their work done. They explain problems and solutions. They recommend products and plumbing upgrades. They answer questions, thoroughly and patiently.
It's all about people skills.
Myth #4: Plumbing technology hasn't changed much over the years
The truth is, plumbing tech is changing all the time. People want more efficient systems. People want eco-friendly options. People want digital-controlled, customized plumbing solutions.
There are tons of new products on the market, serving every kind of need and niche:
- touchless, sensor controlled faucets and fixtures
- piping systems that send "leak alerts" to your smart phone
- eco-friendly home plumbing options that allow people to recycle gently-used water
- electronic flood detectors
- tankless water heaters
- digital showers that let you program light, sound, temperature, and steam
Becoming a plumber means keeping up with all these changes, and continuing to build your technical knowledge.
New tools require new skills. Smart plumbers follow trends in their area of specialization, so they can offer clients the latest products and services.
Myth #5: Demand for plumbers is declining in Ontario
Nope. Demand for plumbers is holding steady, according to the latest report from the Government of Canada Job Bank.
The Job Bank predicts "moderate" job growth and new jobs openings due to retirements. They forecast a good balance of employers and job-seekers over the next 10 years.
"Employment of plumbers has been relatively stable in Ontario over the last decade (and) demand for plumbers will likely remain healthy over the next few years"
Yes, the field is competitive, and plumbers must work hard to be successful. But this is true of any trade—which is why training and continued skill-building is so important.
Myth #6: Physical fitness doesn't matter much for plumbers
We all know the old stereotype of the slow-moving, unfit plumber, who can barely fit under the sink (or into his jeans). But in reality, doing this job well takes a certain level of physical fitness.
For example, plumbers need to:
- go quickly up and down stairs
- get into and out of awkward spaces
- bend, lift and crouch
- be on their feet for hours at a time
No one is saying you need to be a top athlete to do this work. But, being strong and fit will definitely help you get jobs done better and faster—without injuring yourself.
Myth #7: Plumbers don't need a gas tech license
There is actually a huge advantage to having a gas technician license as a plumber. This is why Herzing College offers a special combined Plumber + Gas Technician 3 program.
Once certified, you'll have more job options. You could work as a pipefitter/steamfitter, as a gas technician, and in factory settings where plumbers need to be gas tech certified.
So, while technically you don't need your G3 or G2 license to become a plumber, there's no doubt it's a major asset.
Myth #8: Plumbers are over-paid
Supply and demand, my friend. Plumbers charge what people are willing to pay for essential services, like clean drinking water and a working shower.
But the truth is, salaries for plumbers vary quite a bit. If you look at the latest Wage Report from the Government of Canada Job Bank, you'll see a really wide range for plumbers.
Plumbers in Ontario are making:
At the lowest end: $15/hour or $31,000/year
Median salary: $28/hour or $58,000/year
At the highest end: $44/hour or $91,000/year
These are averages for all of Ontario, based on data collected by the Government.
There is no doubt that plumbers can make really good money. But to say they're all over-paid is simply not true. In the end, it comes down to area of specialization, business savvy, and technical skills.
Myth #9: Plumbers aren't smart or well-educated
Forget about it. Skilled plumbers are some of the smartest, well-trained people you'll meet. First of all, it takes around 5 years to even become a full-fledged plumber. That's longer than a Bachelor degree.
You need to complete a pre-apprenticeship plumber program, finish over 8,000 hours of job training as an apprentice, and pass a challenging certification exam with the Ontario College of Trades.
Secondly, plumbers solve problems all day long. Some are straightforward, many are not. This takes strong analytical and critical thinking skills.
Plus, they need to know the Ontario Plumbing Code inside and out. Plumbers also need to remember detailed safety protocols when working with hazardous materials and contaminated water (otherwise people could get seriously sick).
Other important skills for plumbers include basic math, interpreting blueprints and schematics, and dealing with people from all walks of life.
Bottom line: Not everyone is cut out to become a plumber, and it's not a job "just anyone" can do. It takes a unique combination of intelligence, technical skill, diplomacy, and genuine talent to succeed in this trade.
What now? Learn more about becoming a plumber
So, now that we've busted all the myths, are you ready to go for it? Want to learn more about actually becoming a plumber?
Your next step is to speak with Admissions. An Admissions Advisor will guide you through the Plumber program, costs, financial aid, how to apply, and more.
Chat live with an Advisor now. Or click below to explore the program in more detail. We're here to help!