Essential skills for success as a plumber

Plumbers use essential skills to complete trade-related tasks. Use this fact sheet to:

  • learn how essential skills are used on the job;
  • find out the skills you need to succeed in your trade; and
  • help prepare yourself for your career.


  • Read brochures from suppliers to find information on materials.
  • Read health and safety notices.
  • Read and follow product installation procedures.
  • Read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to obtain information about hazardous products.
  • Read manuals to install, repair and maintain plumbing systems.
  • Read trade text books to understand the science related to plumbing, such as the properties of water, metals and alloys.
  • Read the Canadian Plumbing Code to follow the regulations on plumbing systems.

Document use

  • Read notes in daily log books to track work in progress.
  • Read assembly drawings to install fixtures and appliances.
  • Interpret diagrams in the Canadian Plumbing Code to ensure that the capacity of a building's venting systems complies with regulatory requirements.
  • Interpret schematics to trace the circuit for gas flow when planning for the installation of piping.
  • Interpret drawings to find municipal connections or water sources and to plan the routing of pipe when installing water services.
  • Interpret blueprints to find the locations of piping and catch basins for drainage systems.


  • Measure to locate and mark positions for pipe connections.
  • Compare pressure gauge readings and manufacturers' standards when installing gas pipes underground.
  • Schedule daily activities to complete assigned tasks.
  • Estimate the time and quantity of materials needed to complete a project.
  • Adjust schedules to coordinate work with other tradespersons.
  • Make calculations using formulae, such as determining the total fall on a drain line.
  • Prepare invoices based on hourly labour rates, cost of materials and taxes.
  • Make calculations using trigonometric constants based on the angle of elbows.


  • Write short notes about repairs in progress and tasks to be completed.
  • Write a list of materials required for a job.
  • Maintain a daily log book to record hours worked, tasks completed and problems encountered.
  • Complete incident reports to record an accident in the workplace.

Oral communication

  • Talk to suppliers about the availability of parts.
  • Communicate with other tradespersons on a job site to coordinate work and discuss potential problems.
  • Communicate with a foreperson to receive job assignments.
  • Talk to suppliers to troubleshoot system problems.
  • Talk to customers who may be agitated or concerned.

Working with others

  • Coordinate with other plumbers and tradespersons on a job site to determine the order in which various work tasks should be completed.
  • Participate in discussions about work processes or product improvement.
  • Demonstrate how to perform tasks to other workers.
  • Orient or train new employees.
  • Communicate with customers, suppliers and management.


  • Decide on priorities for service calls, repairs and scheduled work.
  • Contact mechanical engineers, suppliers and manufacturers to clarify installation instructions.
  • Identify and solve problems, such as correcting repairs done by inexperienced homeowners.
  • Determine the most cost-effective way to use materials and supplies.
  • Find and interpret specific clauses in construction contracts or service agreements.
  • Decide how to install large and heavy plumbing systems with the available personnel and equipment.
  • Resolve a backflow problem with a sewer.
  • Work with other tradespersons on a job site to plan work schedules.

Computer use

  • Use word processing software, for example, to write letters to customers.
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing and machining equipment.

Continuous learning

  • Keep up-to-date with changes to the Canadian Plumbing Code.
  • Take technical courses to learn about new products, procedures and equipment.
  • Increase skills and knowledge on the job.
  • Attend health and safety training.
  • Read trade magazines to stay current.
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