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Red Seal Plumber certification in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta

By: Lisa Caroglanian Dorazio

Published On: February 11, 2020

Ancient History

Plumbing dates back to 4,000 B.C. when Egyptians developed copper pipes to build bathrooms inside the pyramids. They also built complicated irrigation and sewage systems. It’s hard to believe that flush toilets – known as “water closets” – didn’t appear until the 1880s in Britain followed by the chain-pull in American homes and hotels of the wealthy in the 1890s. Even more surprising is that indoor plumbing became a mainstay in Canadian homes in the 1950s.

Fast forward 70 years. Think about how water is transported today versus the Roman aqueduct channels. Creative engineering feats of yore now require insightful glances for future considerations for fundamental plumbing and the plumbing industry.

Ever so Revered

One of the most important resources on Earth today is water. More necessary than the conduits that transport water are the plumbers that are best equipped to handle everyday concerns. When something goes wrong a plumber is called to rectify the urgent incident.

Because better is always best, having a Red Seal certification lends even more credibility that a job will be swiftly handled. The reason this is easily substantiated is that a Red Seal, when connected to a trade (provincial or territorial), indicates that the recipient has demonstrated the expertise required in that trade. The endorsement is a globally recognized accreditation for many trades – plumbing is just one.

Why mandatory certifications are a good thing?

One of the many perks for plumbers who have the Red Seal certification is they will have more opportunities for labour. Because many provinces mandate a plumber have a Red Seal certification the additional knowledge and confidence gained through this accreditation will give plumbers the makeup to market themselves across Canada.

Employers and customers also benefit from Red Seal certified plumbers. Employers gain opportunities to bid on work from the Atlantic to the Pacific and customers know their contractors have been vetted for knowledge and skill for compliance in plumbing standards.

Red Seal certifications are available through online education opportunities. Obtaining a Red Seal is mandatory for work in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan. The following is a closer look at these provinces:

New Brunswick

Known for industries in agriculture and aquaculture plumbers are in demand in this fishing and lobster location. Some contractors require a Certification of Qualification (C of Q) but plumbers with “Red Seal” certification can work in New Brunswick and across the border in Quebec. Plumber, plumbing contractor and backflow prevention device tester’s licenses range from C$50-C$400. Plumbing contractor employers can obtain necessary licensing through the Department of Public Safety – Technical Inspection Services in Fredericton, NB and put their plumbers to work.

Nova Scotia

Compulsory training for most provinces, workplace safety is of utmost importance for this Atlantic location well-known for its high tides and apples. A Certification of Qualification issued by the Nova Scotia Apprentice Agency (“NSAA”) is required to legally work in the plumber trade. Training, apprentice and trade qualifier hours are required along with Red Seal certification to work as a plumber in this province. The regulating body for trades in Nova Scotia is the Labour and Workforce Development – Apprenticeship Training and Skill Development Division.


Ontario’s Apprenticeship Training Program consists of on-the-job and in-school training. Requirements for this program are 9,000 hours (approximately five years) consisting of 8,280 hours of on-the-job work experience and 720 hours of in-school training. Plumbers need to have physical stamina, strength and discipline. The Ontario plumbing programs require an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (“OSSD”) or equivalent, including a grade 12 English credit to be completed. Apprenticeship programs require that students be registered by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development.


To become a Journeyperson in the Province of Saskatchewan you can take the Apprenticeship route. You will need to find a plumbing job and have your employer register you with the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (“SATCC”) office as an apprentice. This industry-led, arms-length government organization is dedicated to training apprentices and certifying tradespersons. There are more than 47 designated trades and sub-trades in this grain-producing prairie province. You must complete all levels of training while working under contract with your employer before putting your knowledge to the test.


Personal characteristics such as strength, stamina, agility, mechanical ability and the ability to work alone and with others are important to all plumbers. Additionally, to work in Alberta, you must meet one of the following:

• A registered apprentice
• An Alberta-certified journeyperson
• Someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate

Alberta’s Advance Education – Apprenticeship and Industry Training offers excellent information on Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet and the Entrance Exam Study Guide.

What do we know with certainty?

Two sample salaries for Red Seal certified plumbers – $79, 092 (Alberta) and $72,150 (Saskatchewan) – are proof that plumbers earn their pay. Red Seal certified plumber’s average $36.58/hour in Canada which is 26% above the national average.

Established more than 50 years ago, the Red Seal Program was created to provide portability for Canadian skilled workers. Reaching out to your provincial or territorial certification authority or a school that has a Red Seal trades program will help prepare you for the exam.

Because licensing requirements change it is always necessary to check provincial websites to verify updates. Similarly, it is advisable to check the Red Seal official website for additional information related to Red Seal certifications.

Plunging Deeper

Just as piping materials have evolved so has the plumbing industry. Plumbers know all about “Righty Tighty – Lefty Loosey” and keeping the “fittings warm.” Where there is water there will be work.

There are tremendous opportunities for plumbers in Alberta, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan with a Red Seal certification. Be a vital part of maintaining and protecting the integrity of water and sewage systems for centuries to come. Advance your career by obtaining your Red Seal Certification.


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