Steamfitters and pipefitters lay out, assemble, fabricate, maintain, troubleshoot and repair piping systems carrying water, steam, chemicals and fuel in heating, cooling, lubricating and other process piping and fire suppression systems. 

Their work also includes specialty piping systems that are composed of stainless steel, chrome-moly, nickel, monel and inconel that require special joining techniques. Steamfitters and pipefitters work on the highest pressure and temperature systems out of all of the trades and they require a sound knowledge of scientific and technical principles to complete their work safely and effectively.

  • Read blueprints, drawings and specifications to determine the layout of plumbing system, water supply networks, and wastewater drainage systems.
  • Locate, mark and cut positions and pathways for pipe connections, passage holes and fixtures in walls and floors.
  • Measure, cut, bend and thread pipes using hand and power tools or machines.
  • Weld, braze, cement, solder and thread joints to join pipes and fabricate sections of a piping system.
  • Test pipes for leaks and troubleshoot potential problems using testing equipment.
  • Sprinkler system installers also perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Install clamps, brackets and hangers to support piping systems and sprinkler & fire protection equipment using hand and power tools.
  • Install sprinkler heads and mount prepared pipe in supports.
  • Install valves, alarms and other sprinkler system or fire suppression equipment.
  • You like working with closed, pressurized systems and fire suppression technologies.
  • You are well versed on building codes and regulations and you have a keen interest in staying up to date.
  • You enjoy physically active work.
  • You are mechanically inclined and like working with different metals and their properties.


Careers in the BC shipbuilding & ship repair industry usually begin with an apprenticeship in a Red Seal trade or with a job directly at a shipyard. Many get their start in shipbuilding as a shipyard labourer prior to being accepted into an apprenticeship program.

Discuss possible career steps with your school counsellor, career counsellor, or a union hall representative and consider high school trades programs and post-secondary pre-apprenticeship programs as a great place to start learning about the trades. 

ACE-IT High School Program (Pipefitter)


Most apprenticeships require you to have a high school diploma and to complete a foundations certificate as a prerequisite prior to starting your apprenticeship. Check with available training providers to learn their specific eligibility requirements. 

There are different pathways you can take in order to become a pipefitter. In order to be eligible for industry certification as a pipefitter, you can complete a three to five-year apprenticeship program or you can apply a combination of over four years of practical work experience as a pipefitter, plus some high school, college or other industry courses.


Red Seal trade certification allows for movement between provinces.

The Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program


Employer sponsored apprentices are selected and sponsored through an application process. Union sponsored apprentices are selected and sponsored through their trade union and can be recruited by employers based on the needs of a shipyard.


Apprentices can receive up to $4,000 in grants to pay tuition, travel, tools or other expenses. If you are considering an apprenticeship, visit the Red Seal program for information on how to get started.