Curtis Jackson - Plumber, G. J. Cahill
I was born/grew up in: Cavindish, Trinity Bay, NL
I now live in: Cavindish, Trinity Bay, NL
I completed my training/education at: United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Training Centre
Describe what you do at work.
I work with other skilled trades people during the construction phase of commercial buildings. As a plumber-pipefitter, I study the blueprint plans for how the architects have planned the various systems, particularly the plumbing systems, are to be installed. I interpret these plans and work with my team to install as directed in the plans. I use basic hand and power tools such as saws and drills.
Math skills have the biggest impact on my job as everything I do involves measurements, numbers and estimation skills. While a lot of this is simple algebra, I use problem solving and estimation skills as I size up the job and estimate the amount of supplies and fittings that will be required (to be most efficient you don’t want to have too much or too little supplies in one area).
Communicating with others is an important job site skill. Besides coordinating with the other plumbers-pipefitters, you have to coordinate your work with the other skilled trades people on site to make sure you don’t conflict over space (i.e., make sure different trades are not trying to work in the same close area). You also have to bounce ideas off others as you may have to problem solve something in the blueprint. For example, you might have to figure out how to run your piping in a small area and make sure it does not impact the electrical wiring that will run in the same area.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people's lives?
I think my career is very relevant to peoples’ lives. Most people don’t think about the plumbing system that is hidden in the walls and floors of their office or homes unless something goes wrong. While it is important to make sure the plumbing is installed correctly in all buildings it is even more so in a commercial building. This is because if there is a problem with the water or plumbing, the building will be shut down until it is fixed. This will result in lost work time for the people who work in the building.
What motivates you in your career?
I like that my job does not have a routine like you would have in an office. I’m doing different things every day. And when one job is finished you go to a new site, with new problems to solve and new people to meet. I know that, while they might not think about it, the work I do is important to the people who will live or work in the building I helped build.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
Describe your career path to this career.
At the UA Training Centre I completed the basic 9 month entry level program. In this program you learn all the basics of plumbing and pipefitting. I then entered the workforce as an apprentice plumber, working under more experienced journeyman/red seal plumbers. They helped me perfect my skills and checked my work as I learned more about plumbing from this hands-on experience. After I completed 5400 hours on the job experience I went back to school.
Here I took courses that went deeper into the science, math and technology skills needed by plumber-pipefitters. For example, while I had the basics of blueprint reading in my introductory courses, I now went deeper into it and developed a more detailed understanding of the role of a blueprint in the construction of a building. I am now completing the required hours for my Red Seal. After I complete this I’ll take a two month course and then write the Red Seal exam. Once I have my Red Seal I will be qualified to work in any plumbing position across Canada.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
When I’m off work I like to spend time outdoors. I’m into motor sports and enjoy riding off-road vehicles (Quad and snowmobile).
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
If you like working with your hands and being outside you will like this career. Plumbing and pipefitting is a great career for those who like to do new things all the time. Personally, I would not change my career choice for anything!
Let’s Talk Science is grateful to Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador for connecting us with this individual.