How to Become a Pipefitter

Pipefitting is an excellent career choice for those that enjoy working with their hands and solving problems and mechanical tasks. Pipefitting is traditionally done in residential and business buildings, though it is also sometimes done for the purposes of a government infrastructure. Due to recent increase in residential and business real estate industries, pipefitting is expected to have a very good outlook throughout the coming years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that pipefitters make an average of about $46,660 a year. This average includes pipefitters of all experience levels and specializations. The pipefitter industry is an excellent industry for job stability, as it has historically offered many positions to those within all states. There are currently an approximate amount of 419,900 pipefitters throughout the United States.

What Does a Pipefitter Do?
High School or GED
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

A pipefitter installs and repairs pipes that are used for all purposes. Pipefitters will install water, air, steam and other types of piping. All of these different types of pipe need to be installed and repaired differently, which necessitates thorough training. Pipefitters may work in the commercial sector, the residential sector or even both. Pipefitters will usually need to be able to read blueprints, follow directions, test pipe systems and install new pipe systems. They will also need to troubleshoot existing pipe systems and repair them as is necessary.

Pipefitters will often need to perform the testing of pipe systems and they will also need to follow rigorous safety standards to ensure that they remain safe, as do their coworkers and the residents or occupants of the building. Pipefitters may be called upon to install or repair pipes that carry harsh chemical agents or other dangerous materials, which means the pipefitter will need to be exceedingly well-trained in safety protocols.

How Do You Become a Pipefitter?

The pipefitting trade is a trade that is usually learned not through standardized education but rather a lengthy apprenticeship. Due to the nature of the trade, an apprenticeship in the pipefitting industry will often last anywhere between 4 to 5 years. This rigorous apprenticeship will ensure that the pipefitter not only knows the intricacies of the technology behind the industry but that they can also ensure the safety of those involved in the process as well as prevent any damage from occurring to the property.

Many pipefitter unions and pipefitting businesses will offer apprenticeships to those that are interested in getting into this industry. Union positions usually carry with them higher wages and larger bonuses, but many businesses will also take on apprentices. Those that graduate from the apprenticeship program become journeymen, and they continue to progress from there. A pipefitter will usually need to be an adult, need to pass a math test and need to pass a drug test before they can be considered as an apprentice.

How Do You Advance as a Pipefitter?

Due to the fact that pipefitting is a union job, it has very strict standards for advancement which are usually based primarily on longevity. As a pipefitter completes more jobs and more hours within the industry, the pipefitter will usually begin advancing along a preset trajectory. Unions will usually determine the amount of the pay that the pipefitter receives based on a set scale that is based on the amount of hours they put into their pipefitting work. Seniority may also convey other types of benefits, such as more preferable positions.

Some pipefitters, especially those that work on hazardous lines, may be required to acquire a type of certification before they can move forward in their chosen specialization. Overall, however, pipefitting is a stable industry for those that are interested in acquiring a trade that they can continue throughout their life. O*Net Online marks pipefitting as one of the careers with a very bright outlook for the future.

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