What does a pipefitter do?
Pipefitters lay out, assemble, set up, maintain, and fix various types of piping systems. They use a variety of materials such as plastic, iron, copper, aluminum, steel, lead, and clay. They work with water systems, waste systems, and systems that provide gas for heating and cooling and cooking purposes. They install and fix low-pressure and high-pressure piping systems used in heating and cooling, manufacturing, and creating electricity in buildings and structures. They read and interpret specifications, plans, and blueprints, create detailed sketches for pipe and equipment installation, cut openings for the pipes using many different tools, measure and cut materials, and complete threading, bending, grooving, brazing, soldering, and welding tasks. They also set up automatic control panels to regulate a variety of systems.
Pipefitters use many different construction methods and materials depending on the project type. Some systems are very specialized such as municipal sewerage systems, and require crews of pipefitters.
What kind of training does a pipefitter need?
Most pipefitters complete formal training through community colleges and technical schools. Some complete apprenticeship programs that provide comprehensive training. Most apprenticeship programs consist of 4 to 5 years of 144 hours of annual classroom instruction and paid training on the job. Coursework typically includes mathematics, blueprint reading, drafting, safety, chemistry, and physics. Apprentices learn basic skills through on the job training. As they gain experience, they learn how to work with many types of pipes and how to install various piping systems. A few states require pipefitters to be licensed and the requirements usually include work experience and passing a written examination.
What are the prospects for a career as a pipefitter?
Employment of pipefitters is projected to about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 10% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growing population and construction and maintenance of buildings and structures will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be very good especially for pipefitters that are skilled and have welding abilities. Job openings will also arise to replace pipefitters who retire or leave the field.
How much do pipefitters make?
As of September 2009, the middle 50% of pipefitters earned annual salaries between $34,940 and $48,310. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $55,174 (2).
A career as a pipefitter is a great choice for people interested in installing piping and tubing. Pipefitters must be in good physical health and have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Confidence, precision, leadership, organization, manual dexterity, and willingness to learn are essential qualities. Good mathematical skills and ability to work as part of a team are also necessary traits.