Pipefitter training will provide you with more competencies and hence more opportunities. There are about half a million pipe fitters in the U.S. today. This large amount notwithstanding, there is still a great deal of demand for pipe fitters. Being a pipe fitter is one of the occupations that are not sensitive to the economic volatility experienced in the recent years. And so, the demand for these skilled workers has been left unaffected by the shake in job security most people have recently gone through. Pipe fitting is a trade that involves the assembly, fabrication, and maintenance of mechanical piping systems. Pipefitter training is not easy. It requires physical skills, adeptness at using work tools, and knowledge of materials and substances to be able to withstand pipefitter training. Going through such training involves some theoretical studies as well as years of apprenticeship. In most states in the U.S., pipe fitters are actually licensed before they are able to work on projects. Pipe fitter training programs are also linked to plumbing courses whose guidelines are based on different what individual states provide.
Pipefitter Education and Training
Pipefitter training usually requires attendance in a vocational or a technical school. There are also those who go through such training while in the armed forces. There are apprenticeship programs that are available in most states. These programs run for about four to five years and are normally supervised by the committees composed of representatives from the local union and the management. Pipefitting training is usually a four or five year apprenticeship where each year, apprentices ned to accumulate at least 1,700 to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and a minimum of 246 hours of related technical education. Courses include:
- Occupational safety training
- Plumbing codes and regulations
- Reading blueprints
- Applied physics
Done in combination with classroom training, these training programs require that an applicant pass an examination that is given by the state employment service. Acceptance to these apprenticeship programs are often determined by the local union-management committee based on the results of the employment service exam and the applicant’s high school grades.
High school credits in chemistry, mathematics, and physics are considered to be plusses in a pipe fitter applicant. Accepted apprentices are required to go through at least 144 hours of classroom instruction. At the end of their training, they are expected to have learned basic skills in welding and soldering, reading blueprints, and most other skills necessary to do a pipe fitters job. They are also expected to pass a state licensure exam wherein their knowledge of pipefitting and local building codes will be tested.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters together. It is often necessary for those who wish to become a pipe fitter to belong to a local union. This not only serves to help them get the pipe fitter training that they need, it also serves to help them in case of issues concerning employment or contract work. After his apprentice work, a pipe fitter can apply for employment with a contractor.
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair pipes which carry water, steam, air, or other liquids or gases to residential and commercial establishments and buildings (BLS). They are responsible for:
- Installing pipes and fixtures
- Replacing worn parts and equipment
- Studying blueprints and following building codes
- Inspecting and testing pipe systems and pipelines
- Troubleshooting and repairing systems
A lot of contractors have the need for pipe fitters to be hired for plumbing services and construction work among others. A pipe fitter can expect to work long hours doing strenuous work and going for long periods of either squatting, kneeling, or standing in cramped spaces. Unlike others in the construction industry, the risks of injury for pipe fitters are not that high but nonetheless, pipefitter training still focuses on safety.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
As they are protected by the labor union, pipe fitters are able to negotiate higher wages than others working in the construction industry. They are normally paid an average of $20 per hour with rates increasing for overtime work. Usually, apprentices start with about $10 per hour in wages. This rate moves up as they progress through their training. The median annual wage of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $46,660 in 2010, and the employment of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters is expected to grow 26% between 2010 to 2020 (BLS).
Other benefits are also extended to pipe fitters such as paid holidays, health care benefits, insurance coverage, and pension benefits. Other pipe fitters might enjoy more benefits that some depending on their union negotiated contract. Those who have gone through pipefitter training are able to take advantage of more opportunities such as supervisor posts and self-contracting than those who merely learn the trade through practice.
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