Updated December 2022
So long as humanity continues to rely on plumbing technology, we will need experienced, skilled plumbers to install, repair, and maintain the systems we use every day.
Residential, commercial, industrial construction—plumbers can specialize in any of these areas. You can work for a company or start your own business.
But like any trade, becoming a plumber means taking on certain challenges. Do the pros outweigh the cons?
Take a look at the top advantages and drawbacks of life as a plumber and decide for yourself.
Pro: Demand for plumbers is steady in Ontario
If you're considering becoming a plumber, job outlook will be a key factor in your decision-making process. Fortunately, the Government of Canada Job Bank predicts steady demand for plumbers in Ontario for the foreseeable future.
The latest research shows several positive trends that are creating jobs for plumbers across the province. These include:
- more investment in public infrastructure (schools, hospitals, transit projects, etc.)
- demand for repair, maintenance, and renovation work (particularly upgrading old plumbing to more energy-efficient systems)
With the right training and hard work, you'll find steady employment as a plumber in Ontario.
Con: Plumbers usually work in shifts and on-call
The job market for plumbers may be easy to predict, but your daily routine won't be. Officially, plumbers work standard eight-hour shifts, but there are always emergencies and last-minute requests to cope with.
Becoming a plumber means being on call—dealing with burst pipes and overflowing sinks in the middle of the night, and on holidays. It's just the nature of the business.
When plumbing systems break down, immediate interventions are often needed to prevent serious damage and/or risks to human health. You'll need to be flexible to work in this field.
Pro: Opportunity to become your own boss
See yourself owning your own plumbing business one day? Many plumbing program grads go on to start their own contracting companies.
In fact, the Job Bank says 19 per cent of Ontario plumbers are self-employed—compared to just 12 per cent of all other occupations. Working for yourself requires extra effort, but it also lifts restrictions on your earning potential.
Any profits you make are yours to keep.
Con: Plumbing work can be physically demanding
If you work as a plumber, you can expect to spend much of your time crawling into cramped spaces, carrying heavy accessories (like bathtubs), and hunching over to install or repair pipes, drainage systems, and fixtures.
Plumbers work in all weather, and must sometimes endure extreme heat or cold. There's no doubt about it—like all construction trades, plumbing is physically demanding.
Pros: There's always something new—no boring routines
Some of the work you do as a plumber will be predictable—but you'll spend most of your time solving problems. Whether you're roughing in a new house, tracking down the source of a leak, or responding to an emergency, plumbing work presents a healthy dose of daily challenges.
There's always something new to learn. If you're looking to avoid boring routines, becoming a plumber is an ideal option.
Cons: Plumbers often work under pressure
For plumbers, the same lack of predictability that makes the job interesting can also make it stressful. You must be level-headed and able to problem-solve under pressure in order to be successful in this field.
Whether you work for a company or for yourself, it's likely your days will be packed with many clients to see. And those clients will want fast results. You'll need to work swiftly and efficiently, and meet tight deadlines, to stay on schedule.
And when it comes to emergencies, maintaining composure when disaster strikes is absolutely essential for plumbers. You'll need to remain calm and professional, even when everyone else is in full panic mode.
Want to learn more?
If you think becoming a plumber is right for you, it's time to explore training options. Plumbers in Ontario must complete an apprenticeship and pass a certification exam.
Many people take pre-apprenticeship training as a first step. Employers prefer to hire plumber apprentices who already know the basics and have safety training.
This is what you'll learn in a quality pre-apprenticeship plumber program.
Click below to explore training, learn all about certification, and explore plumber career paths.