PlumberApprenticeship is a great way to develop employable skills while working and earning a paycheck. In fact, apprentices are required to find a job before they go to school.
On the job, you’ll typically work under the direction of a journeyperson who provides instruction as you gain experience. Your college study periods are short, usually about two months long, allowing you to build theoretical knowledge and more advanced practical skills. Apprenticeship programs require you to attend college once a year for three or four years.
Plumbers work with everything from drinking water to drainage, heating to cooling, medical gas to compressed air, and swimming pools to septic tanks. Plumbers plan, install and service plumbing systems, fixtures, piping equipment and controls. The piping systems may be used to transport water, waste, gases or hot liquids.
Students in our program spend time in the shops learning hands-on skills such as assembly of pipe and fittings, soldering, threading, solvent weld, and grooving piping, as well as working on furnaces and boilers. Classroom lectures are supplemented with lots of job site situations with experienced instructors. You will learn how to make a Tee branch on a pipe without putting in a T-fitting. You will learn how to freeze the contents of a pipe in order to do repairs on the line when there are no shut offs. Our students also value the opportunity to take interesting tours of actual job sites, one of the advantages to smaller class sizes.
Plumbers are employed by construction contractors, plumbing repair shops and large organizations. Some are self-employed. Employment prospects vary considerably with seasonal and economic climates. Experienced plumbers may advance to supervisory positions such as foreman or estimator, or start their own contracting businesses.
The plumbing trade provides opportunities for a journeyperson to work in inspection, instruction, or to own their own business.
The first step to becoming an apprentice is finding a job in the trade you would like to study. This is like any other job search, except you are looking for an employer who is willing to hire you as an apprentice in a trade. Once you have found employment, you can complete the Apprenticeship Application and Contract. This will allow you to be accepted as an apprentice tradesperson. Access the form at www.tradesecrets.alberta.ca.
After your application has been accepted, you will begin training with your employer and are now eligible to register for training at Medicine Hat College. You will then be sent an information package from the college on how to proceed with your registration.
You and your employer will sign a contract. Before signing the contract, read it carefully to know your obligations and responsibilities and those of your employer. Once signed, the contract must be delivered to Apprenticeship and Industry Training. An identification card, course outline booklet and, for most trades, an apprenticeship record book are issued to you. At this point, your apprenticeship training begins.
Attending Technical Training Classes
A notice to attend technical training will be sent about two months before classes begin. Class schedules are posted at www.tradesecrets.alberta.ca. Registration for your technical training must be arranged through Medicine Hat College in the appropriate trades program.
You will be awarded an Alberta Completion of Apprenticeship Certificate when you successfully complete all requirements of your apprenticeship contract. In addition to and depending on the trade, you will receive a Journeyperson certification.
Trades eligible for an Interprovincial Red Seal Certificate have an additional exam to write and upon successful completion of the exam, the seal is affixed to the Journeyperson certificate when issued.
In the province of Alberta, there are two kinds of regulated trades.
- Compulsory Certification Must be either a journeyperson or apprentice to work in the trade as legislated under the Alberta Industry and Training Act.
- Optional Certification Trades training is offered but optional.
You must write an Apprenticeship and Trade Certification exam at the end of each technical training class. The passing mark is 70%. If you do not pass, you may be offered an apprenticeship supplemental exam. You must take the course again if you do not pass the supplemental exam.
To progress from one training period to the next and get a wage increase, you must
- pass the apprenticeship exam.
- receive an acceptable mark in the course.
- obtain the required number of hours of work experience.
- receive a satisfactory report from your employer.
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