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Why Red Seal Certification is Important for Plumbers

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: September 27, 2022

The job market for trades, like plumbing, can be volatile. When construction starts to drop in one region, it may pick up in another. If you're a Red Seal plumber, this isn't an issue because you're eligible to work anywhere in Canada.

Let's say you've been a plumber for about 10 years. You're already a certified journeyperson and things have been going well. But then something happens. Your company stops bidding on the townhouse developments that were your main work for a few years. You're not in management, so you don't know what's going on. But you've heard the owner is planning to close down the company and there's no new owner in sight.

What can you do? You can up the ante of your qualifications and make it possible to relocate – become a red seal plumber.

Red Seal certification is available for 56 different skilled trades throughout Canada, including plumbers. Being Red Seal Certified is a sign that you have achieved a high level of expertise in your field. This certification is recognized by other tradespeople and consumers across the country.

That recognition comes with an elevated point of view of a Red Seal trade and the same is true for those who become a Red Seal plumber.

A Red Seal Plumber works on water lines with his wrench

The Benefits of Being a Red Seal Certified Plumber

  • One key benefit, as noted above, is the ability to be certified and able to work anywhere in the country.
    • This means there’s no need to apply for additional journeyperson certifications in other provinces or territories.
    • Simply contact the certification body of the region you want to relocate to and provide your Red Seal plumber certification information to be able to work in that region.
  • Unlike becoming a journeyman, there is no additional education or applicable hours required beyond what you have already earned to be able to challenge the exam.
  • A Red Seal plumber certification may allow you to earn more money per hour or a higher salary.
  • The certification proves to potential employers (or customers if you run your own business) that you have obtained a Canadian standard in your trade. It shows excellence in plumbing and a level of skill far beyond the basics.
  • There are many jobs that require a plumber to have Red Seal certification, thus earning it will allow you to apply for more positions and move farther, faster in your career.
  • The certification allows plumbers to train apprentices in the trade and allows you to help grow the trade while building its recognition, relevance and status in the labour market.

Do You Need a Red Seal Certification?

In BC, plumbers can work without Red Seal Certification. However, becoming a Red Seal plumber has a number of advantages. Additionally, in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, Plumber Red Seal Certification is compulsory along with other trades.

If you have Red Seal certification in plumbing, you do not need to become certified in another province or territory. If you are moving to a new province or territory, contact that region's apprenticeship and certification office to have your qualifications recognized.

The Future Need For Certified Plumbers in Canada

The need for Red Seal certified plumbers will continue to grow as the population increases. By 2023, it is expected that there will be a demand for more than 4,000 certified plumbers across Canada.

How to Become a Red Seal Plumber

There are two ways to become a Red Seal certified plumber. For people who don't have any experience, or are just starting their apprenticeship, they will need to learn the trade, get an education and have some experience. After that, they can take the exam to become a journeyperson. For people who are already journeypersons, or have been working at their trade for a long time without formal apprenticeship training, they can challenge the exam.

You can register for the Red Seal challenge exam through your provincial or territorial certification body. When you contact them, they will be able to tell you what specific criteria is required for a plumber in your region to challenge the exam. They may also have tools you can use to prepare for the exam if you ask.

There are many plumber Red Seal exam preparation courses available. These courses take place in the evening or online so that you can fit it into your busy schedule. If you don't want to take a course, there are many ways to find information about the exam and prepare for it on

Breakdown of the Red Seal Plumber Exam

The Red Seal exams are based on the national occupational classification (NOC). The NOC is a list of all the jobs in Canada. For plumbers, their job is classified as number 7251. This means that the Red Seal exams have questions about all the tasks a plumber needs to be able to do.

There are 125 questions in total, and each section of questions is based on the tasks in the NOC.

  • Occupation skills – 14 questions
  • Piping preparation and assembly – 16 questions
  • Drainage, waste, vents and sewage treatment systems – 27 questions
  • Water service and distribution – 18 questions
  • Fixtures, appliances and water treatment systems – 14 questions
  • Low pressure steam and hydronic heating and cooling systems – 12 questions
  • Specialized systems – 10 questions
  • Maintenance and repairs – 14 questions

You know your trade, now is the time to earn the Red Seal certification that proves your level of knowledge and skill. Study for the exam and with passing, you will open more doors than ever before.


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