Steamfitter/Pipefitter Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Steamfitter/Pipefitter trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Monteur/monteuse d’appareils de chauffage

NOC: 7252

Designation Year: 1966

RSOS Products for Download

The Steamfitter/Pipefitter Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:



Red Seal Occupational Standard - Steamfitter/Pipefitter

A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Poster - Steamfitter/Pipefitter

Charts trade activities on a poster format.

Trade Profile - Steamfitter/Pipefitter

A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.

Curriculum Outline - Steamfitter/Pipefitter

Organizes the Knowledge elements of the standard and provides recommendations for training levels. These are meant to assist in developing and delivering technical training curricula.

Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Steamfitter/Pipefitter (PDF, 1.3 MB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Steamfitter/Pipefitter Trade

“Steamfitter/Pipefitter” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by a Steamfitter/Pipefitter whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:














Pipefitter - Heating System Installer Specialty (Construction)




Steamfitter – Pipefitter

  x x      


x x x x   x x x x x

Steamfitters/Pipefitters lay out, assemble, fabricate, maintain, repair and service equipment and piping systems carrying water, steam, fluids, gases, chemicals and fuel in various systems such as heating, cooling, lubricating and process piping systems. They read and interpret drawings, specifications and codes to determine layout, type and size of pipe, and tools to use. They measure, cut, thread, groove, bend, solder, braze, assemble and install metal, plastic and fiberglass pipes, valves and fittings. As well, they must be able to join and secure pipe sections of related equipment. They check systems for leaks. Steamfitters/Pipefitters also do general maintenance work including replacement of worn components.

Steamfitters/Pipefitters must carry out quality control checks on work performed. The system must be tested and commissioned to verify the quality of work and to confirm that the system is functioning to design specifications. They use welding, cutting, shaping, soldering, threading and brazing equipment to join pipes and fabricate sections of piping systems.

Areas of specialization in this trade include maintenance, quality control, rigging, fabrication and installation of various types of systems and specialty piping.

Safety practices are of utmost importance in this trade. Steamfitters/Pipefitters work both indoors and outdoors at physically demanding tasks that often require working at heights. There is some risk of injury when working in and around trenches, on work platforms, and with power tools and heavy equipment. The piping systems may carry dangerous substances. Safety practices and training are emphasized in order to minimize risks.

Steamfitters/Pipefitters must have mechanical aptitude, manual dexterity, mathematical skills, an ability to read and understand complex instructions and an ability to do careful and exacting work. They sometimes work in uncomfortable or cramped positions. The work can also be physically demanding. In aspects of layout, work organization, project planning and supervisory tasks, steamfitters/pipefitters may also make use of many digital tools and applications.

With experience, steamfitters/pipefitters may advance to positions such as foreman, contractor, owner, superintendent and instructor.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

The tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the skills and knowledge which support each sub-task of the trade. The most important essential skills for each sub-task have also been identified. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.


Steamfitters/Pipefitters require strong reading skills to refer to and interpret manufacturers’ manuals and instructions including diagrams, charts and graphs. They also need to consult multiple professional codes concerning industry standards and safety requirements.

Document Use

Steamfitters/Pipefitters must be comfortable in document use to interpret work schedules. They consult reference manuals on measurement, materials and pipe sizing, pressures and mathematical formulas for calculations. They interpret information from mechanical drawings, schematic diagrams and architectural plans to ensure proper installation of piping. They also use quality control documentation which records information such as heat numbers, weld mapping and material identification.


Writing skills are used by steamfitters/pipefitters to write lists of materials and fittings needed for a job, complete forms to request materials and keep daily logs to record measurements and reminders. When required, they must write incident or accident reports.

Oral Communication

Steamfitters/Pipefitters require good oral communication skills to interact with colleagues, supervisors and other tradespersons when co-ordinating work, resolving problems and ensuring safety. They interact with apprentices to provide mentorship and speak with vendors to order materials.


Numeracy skills are very important in the everyday work of steamfitters/pipefitters. They frequently take or calculate measurements of temperature, pressure and volume. They verify conformity with manufacturers’ recommendations and operating practices. The work requires a strong understanding of mathematical calculations and trigonometry. The ability to estimate the quantity of piping material required and to convert between imperial and metric systems of measurement is also important.

Thinking Skills

Steamfitters/Pipefitters identify the steps and develop a plan to accomplish a task and coordinate the work. They must decide how to configure and relocate pipes. The ability to problem solve during testing or when a pipe or system failure is encountered is important. Decision making is important when considering job safety and risk prevention. Steamfitters/Pipefitters must also be able to find information they need in multiple sources such as blueprints, code documents, reference manuals and product catalogues.

Working with Others

Steamfitters/Pipefitters liaise with supervisors, colleagues and other trades to coordinate multiple tasks. They may work with trades such as welders, pipe insulators and electricians. They supervise others and mentor apprentices, offering both practical training and safety information. Additionally, the conduct, behaviour, appearance and attitude of a steamfitter/pipefitter are essential to the success of a job or project.

Digital Technology

Steamfitters/Pipefitters may use communications software for e-mail or use the Internet to look up material and trade-related information, to order materials online or to access training. They may use a spreadsheet to keep track of the status of materials ordered. They may also use CAD software to input measurements taken on the job site, to generate drawings and for referencing purposes. The use of digital equipment for the trade such as smart phones, laser and digital layout equipment such as total station, building information modeling and GPS technology is increasingly important for trade activities.

Continuous Learning

Steamfitters/Pipefitters may pursue refresher courses or specialty certifications and attend supplier seminars. Continuous learning is essential as they must keep up-to-date with the regulatory requirements and the various codes that are periodically revised. Also, they must keep abreast of technological advances in their field to select the most appropriate equipment, tools and materials and be able to perform a proper installation.

Trends in the Steamfitter/Pipefitter Trade

Steam systems are being installed less frequently in office and commercial facilities. However, these systems are still prevalent in facilities utilizing central heating plants such as hospitals and college/university campuses.

Steamfitters/Pipefitters work in many sectors including pipelines, nuclear energy, mining, petro-chemical, natural gas, sawmills, offshore oil and gas, shipbuilding, automotive, pulp and paper, and commercial and institutional. In some jurisdictions, steamfitting/pipefitting work is increasing in certain sectors, such as gas plants and shipbuilding. Due to changing demands on the industry and an aging workforce, there may be a requirement for more steamfitter/pipefitters in Canada.

Plastic pipe is increasingly being used in residential, commercial and institutional sectors for certain applications. In industries such as pulp and paper, shipbuilding, mining and chemical, there is an increase in the use of specialized materials. New materials are becoming economically feasible, driving changes in structural design, especially in industrial and institutional sectors. The movement to more specialized materials will require more training for steamfitters/pipefitters. This will also require a more in-depth knowledge of quality control procedures.

Renewable energy systems such as geo-exchange, geothermal, solar, radiant, refrigeration, heat recovery and central cooling plants are becoming more prevalent. There is new technology for water-heating such as low-mass boilers, on‑demand (flow-through) hot water systems, condensing boilers, biomass, high efficiency boilers and co-generation boilers. Heating and cooling systems are becoming increasingly hybridized making it less clear where one system ends and the other begins.

Steamfitters/Pipefitters must keep current on a large number of regulations and codes. Governments continue to pass more stringent safety, health and environmental regulations. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards are becoming more common in many jurisdictions. These promote increased energy efficiency and environmentally friendly building practices.

Steamfitters/Pipefitters are expected to obtain and maintain a high level of safety knowledge and training. There is an increase in the use of hydraulic/pneumatic/electric cutting and bevelling tools for pipe-end preparation. Hydraulic/pneumatic/electric tensioning and torquing equipment are also becoming more common in the trade. There is an increase in the use of flame-free pipe press-connection technology, which increases efficiency and safety.

There is an ongoing trend towards the use of computers for reports, schedules, ordering material, completion of forms, rendering drawings (computer-aided design or CAD), system analysis and service, and control of heating/cooling systems. The use of digital equipment for the trade such as smart phones, laser and digital layout equipment such as total station and GPS technology is increasingly important for trade activities.

Modularization and pre-fabrication is becoming more common and installation of these materials requires less field runs.

In some jurisdictions, steamfitters/pipefitters require specialty licenses such as gas, fuel and oil licences or other special endorsements for working with materials such as medical gas. Certification may also be required for performing welding, tacking processes and backflow prevention. Licensing and certifications for aerial work platforms, zoom booms, articulated fork-lifts and scissor lifts are becoming essential for operating these pieces of equipment. Hoisting and rigging certification is becoming increasingly necessary in some jurisdictions.

With regulations becoming more stringent, steamfitters/pipefitters may be held liable for their actions when performing rigging, hoisting, lifting and positioning activities. It is the responsibility of steamfitters/pipefitters to be aware of changes in regulations.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common language of business as well as language of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Acknowledgement is extended by ESDC and the CCDA to the National Industry Advisory Committee for this project, co-chaired by Larry Slaney of the United Association and by Richard McKeagan of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Glen Aspen - United Association
  • Michael Battye - Ontario
  • Philip Craig - Nova Scotia
  • Jon Dalton - Canadian Standards Association
  • Paul Dupont - Quebec
  • Stephen Evecsyn - Manitoba
  • Tim Furlong - Manitoba
  • Bruce Gillingham - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Anthony Iannucci - Ontario
  • Corey Kelly - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Vince Koeman - British Columbia
  • Wade MacFadyen - New Brunswick
  • Andrew Nalesso - Prince Edward Island
  • Ron Perkin - British Columbia
  • Al Philips - British Columbia
  • Bruce Power - United Association
  • Dustin Saccucci - Saskatchewan
  • Brian Thompson - Alberta
  • John Topple - Nova Scotia
  • Alan Vanderploeg - Ontario

This standard was prepared by the Labour Market Integration Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of Apprenticeship New Brunswick. The host jurisdiction of British Columbia also participated in the development of this standard.