In the world of construction and maintenance, there are numerous careers that contribute to the overall success of a project. One such profession is pipefitting. This blog post will explain what a pipefitter is, how to become one, and the benefits of pursuing this career path.
What is a Pipefitter?
A pipefitter, also known as a steamfitter or gasfitter, is a skilled tradesperson responsible for the installation, repair, and maintenance of piping systems. These systems are used to transport various fluids, such as water, gas, chemicals, and steam, in commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. Pipefitters work with a variety of materials, including copper, steel, cast iron, and plastic, to create airtight, leak-free connections that ensure the safe and efficient operation of these systems.
How to Become a Pipefitter
To become a pipefitter, you will need to complete a combination of education, training, and work experience. Here are the general steps to follow:
- Obtain a high school diploma or GED: Most pipefitter apprenticeship programs require at least a high school diploma or GED. Focus on subjects such as mathematics, physics, and technical drawing to build a strong foundation for your career.
- Complete a pipefitting apprenticeship: Apprenticeship programs, usually sponsored by trade unions or contractors, provide on-the-job training combined with classroom instruction. These programs typically last 4-5 years and include a minimum of 246 hours of technical training and 1,700-2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training per year.
- Acquire necessary certifications and licenses: Pipefitters may need specific certifications or licenses depending on their location and the type of work they do. Some common certifications include welding, brazing, and medical gas installation. Check with your local government for specific requirements.
- Gain work experience: After completing your apprenticeship and obtaining any required certifications, you can begin working as a journeyman pipefitter. With experience, you can advance to supervisory or management positions or even start your own contracting business.
Benefits of Becoming a Pipefitter
- Job stability: Pipefitters are in high demand due to the constant need for new construction and maintenance of existing infrastructure. This means that the profession offers a high level of job stability and security.
- Attractive salary: Pipefitters are well-compensated for their skills and experience, with median annual salaries at $59,880 according to BLS. This is significantly higher than the national average. As you gain experience and certifications, your earning potential increases.
- Opportunities for growth: The pipefitting industry offers numerous opportunities for career growth and advancement. With experience, you can specialize in a specific area, such as medical gas installation or industrial pipefitting, or progress to supervisory or management roles.
- Variety of work environments: Pipefitters work in a diverse range of settings, from residential and commercial construction sites to industrial facilities and power plants. This variety keeps the job interesting and provides new challenges to overcome.
- Skill development: As a pipefitter, you’ll develop a wide range of skills, from technical knowledge of piping systems and materials to problem-solving and communication abilities. These skills are transferable to other careers and can serve as a strong foundation for a long and fulfilling professional life.
Pipefitting is a challenging and rewarding profession that offers job stability, attractive salaries, and opportunities for growth. By completing an apprenticeship and obtaining necessary certifications, you can embark on a successful career as a pipefitter and contribute to the development and maintenance of vital infrastructure.