Trade Profile - Steamfitter-Pipefitter
What does it take to be a steamfitter-pipefitter
Over the next ten years, it is estimated that over 261,100 tradespeople will retire in Canada, while only 221,300 will enter the field, resulting in a significant loss of skilled workers. In addition, due to the aging population, the overall number of people who are considered to be in their working prime (age 25-54) is expected to decline. These factors will make it increasingly difficult to replenish the retiring workforce.
In response to the anticipated shortage of skilled apprentices, the construction industry has developed several initiatives, opportunities, and grants to encourage youth, women, the indigenous population, and other groups to consider a career in the skilled trades. Alongside various partners, CLAC has become increasingly involved in promoting the skilled trades as a rewarding career option, while simultaneously looking for new ways to support industry and workers alike.
Over the next year, we will share a variety of trades-related blogs here on Your Voice. We will highlight in-demand trades by providing you with a snap shot of their education requirements, average salary, and employment outlook.
This month’s highlighted trade is steamfitter-pipefitter.
More commonly known simply as a pipefitter, a steamfitter-pipefitters often lays out, assembles, fabricates, maintains, and repairs piping systems that carry water, steam, chemicals, or fuel used in heating, cooling, lubricating, and other processes. Pipefitters are required to have physical strength and stamina, manual dexterity, mechanical aptitude, and the ability to complete careful and exacting work.
With the employment gap in the manufacturing sector, it is predicted by BuildForce Canada’s 2019 Construction and Maintenance Outlook report for Alberta that by 2020, “workers meeting the employer qualifications are generally not available in local markets” and “employers may need to compete to attract the needed workers.” This trend is relatively consistent up until 2028, maintaining steady demand for skilled apprentices and journeypersons in the steamfitter-pipefitter trade.
CLAC represents various contractors who employ steamfitter-pipefitters. Journeyperson wages can range on average from $35 to $45 per hour, plus benefits. A career as a steamfitter-pipefitter comes with unlimited career possibilities as they have the opportunity to advance to various supervisory positions throughout their careers such as foreman, contractor, superintendent, or technical instructor.
Those looking to start a new career as a steamfitter-pipefitter can expect to complete a four-year apprenticeship program including a minimum of 1,560 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training each year. To work as a pipefitter in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice with Apprentice and Industry Training (AIT) or an Alberta-certified journeyperson. As a compulsory Red Seal trade, those looking to become a pipefitter should follow the traditional apprenticeship pathway.
High school students can become apprentice steamfitter-pipefitters! Through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP), students can gain credits toward their apprenticeship training and high school diploma at the same time, all while making a paycheque. Students who are interested in joining the RAP should speak to their school’s off-campus coordinator to get started.
Interested in the skilled trades? Contact your CLAC Training Team for support in navigating the apprenticeship pathway, assistance in enrolling in technical training, and information regarding student funding.