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Steamfitter–pipefitters lay out, assemble, fabricate, maintain and repair piping systems which carry water, steam, chemicals or fuel used in heating, cooling, lubricating and other processes.

To install a typical piping system in a commercial building or industrial plant, steamfitter–pipefitters:

  • study blueprints, drawings and specifications to determine the type of pipe and tools to use, and lay out the sequence of tasks,
  • sometimes make detailed sketches for pipe and equipment fabrication and installation, as required,
  • measure, cut, thread, groove, bend, assemble and install metal, plastic and fibreglass pipes, valves and fittings,
  • join pipe sections, related equipment and secure in position, and
  • use testing equipment to check systems for leaks.

Steamfitter–pipefitters also remove and replace worn components, do general maintenance work and may work on plant shut-downs.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.


Working Conditions

Steamfitter–pipefitters work both indoors and outdoors at physically demanding tasks that often require climbing. They work approximately 40 hours a week, with overtime sometimes required to meet construction deadlines. Construction contractors may require employees to travel and live in rented accommodation or at a company on-site camp.

There is some risk of injury involved in working with power tools and heavy equipment.


Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy working with little direction or supervision.

To be successful in their trade, steamfitter–pipefitters must have:

  • physical strength, stamina and the use of proper lifting techniques required to manage heavy materials and stand for long periods,
  • manual dexterity,
  • mechanical aptitude,
  • the ability to read and understand complex instructions, and
  • the ability to do careful and exacting work.


Employment and Advancement

Steamfitter–pipefitters are employed by pipeline construction contractors and sub-contractors, thermal or steam generating plants, manufacturers, utility companies, oil refineries, gas plants, pulp mills and chemical plants. Employment prospects change with seasonal and economic climates.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $35 to $45 an hour, plus benefits.

Experienced steamfitter–pipefitters may advance to supervisory positions such as foreman, sub-contractor, contractor or construction superintendent.


Working in Alberta

To work as a steamfitter-pipefitter in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a steamfitter–pipefitter is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1560 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training each year. See the FYI for the new 4-period Program.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the steamfitter–pipefitter trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a steamfitter-pipefitter in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    • during on-the-job training, apprentice steamfitter–pipefitters earn at least 50 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 65 percent in the second, 80 percent in the third year and 90 percent in the fourth year.
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
    • select an educational institution tha offers training for steamfitter-pipefitter apprentices and a time to attend technical training
    • determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution and enroll online
  • successfully complete all required exams
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training requires apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A steamfitter-pipefitter who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.


Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

The steamfitter-pipefitter Qualification Certificate Program - Based on Work Experience is participating in a pilot project that creates an alternate route for the verification of trade competencies, called the Trade Competency Verification (TCV) Pilot. See the TCV Fact Sheet for details and the Steamfitter-Pipefitter TCV Sample Book.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.


Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.