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Why Red Seal Certification is Important for Plumbers

By: Ronda Payne

Published On: December 27, 2019

The economies of each province and territory in Canada often shift and change and with those changes the jobs in various trades, like plumbing, may find a shift in workload. When construction starts to drop, it’s nice to know there is an option to relocate and find more work in a different region if necessary or desirable. This is possible when you become a Red Seal plumber.

Imagine you’ve been working as a plumber for about 10 years. You’ve already been journeyperson certified through the province and things are going well, but something happens. The company you’ve been working for stops bidding on the townhouse developments that were your bread and butter for the last several years. You’re not in management so you’re not sure what’s up, but you’ve heard that the owner is planning to wind things down with no new owner for the company in sight. You’ve reached out to colleagues, but there’s been a lack of interest. 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. It’s proof of obtaining a level of distinction in a trade and one that is recognized across the country by the trades themselves and to a certain degree, by consumers. Consider the awareness consumers have of Red Seal chefs. That recognition comes with an elevated point of view of a Red Seal trade and the same is true for those who become Red Seal plumber.

In addition to the recognition of a trade’s worth, having Red Seal certification can benefit plumbers in other ways as well:

  • 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. The Red Seal certification gives you the flexibility to work where you want, or need, due to the acceptance of Red Seal certification across the country.
  • While it may require some plumber Red Seal exam preparation to write and pass the exam, those who have been in the trade a significant period of time and know all of the standards within plumbing are able to challenge the Red Seal exam. It’s always advisable to look into courses to help with the plumber Red Seal exam preparation because theory (what is required in the exam as it is not a “hands-on” type of test) is different from the practice used in your everyday occupation, so this is one exam you’ll want to study for! That being said, 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. Red Seal certification gives both you, and anyone you train who goes on to earn the same certification, a sense of pride in occupational accomplishments.

How to Become a Red Seal Plumber

There are two paths to becoming a Red Seal certified plumber. For those without experience, or just beginning their apprenticeship, there is the process of that initial trade learning, education and experience that will lead them to their exam to earn journeyperson certification and then their Red Seal certification. For those who are already journeypersons, or who have been working at their trade for a significant amount of time without the formal apprenticeship training, there is the option to challenge the exam.

Registering for the exam is done through your provincial or territorial certification body. When you contact them to register for the Red Seal challenge exam, (find your region’s authority at ask what specific criteria is required for a plumber in your region to challenge the exam as they will have the most up-to-date information on what experience and number of applicable work hours are required. They may also have tools you can use to prepare for the exam upon request.

There are also a number of plumber Red Seal exam preparation courses available to help you with the studying required beforehand. These courses tend to be in the evenings and/or based online in order to accommodate the busy schedules of plumbers who work full time in the trade. If you prefer not to take a plumber Red Seal exam preparation course, there are numerous ways to find information about the exam and tools to prepare for it on the site.

Breakdown of the Red Seal Plumber Exam

Each trade has a national occupational classification (NOC) and this is used to create the Red Seal exams. A plumber is NOC #7251. Within the NOC are the various tasks a plumber needs to be able to complete. The exam has a total of 125 questions and each section of questions is broken down by the tasks on 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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