Attending plumbing courses offers many career options. this can be attained at trade schools and technical colleges as well as apprenticeship programs. Pipe layers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters follow building plans or blueprints and instructions from construction supervisors, layout the job correctly, and work efficiently with the materials and tools of their trade. Residential plumbers go to homes to unclog drains or install appliances. Pipefitters, and steamfitters install, maintain, and repair many different types of pipe systems e.g. city water and sewer systems, gas company pipes, etc. While pipe fitting and plumbing are generally considered to be separate distinct trades, many qualified craft workers become skilled and qualifies in both fields.
Plumbing Education and Training
Pipe fitters generally work with large pipes in industries like food processing plants, oil refineries, and chemical plants. Plumbing schools and colleges offer curricula that is structured in such a way that students gain both practical and theoretical knowledge, and also to prepare students for the necessary licensure or certification. Plumbing apprentice can list four to five years.
When taking plumbing courses in your area you of specialization you can take various directions in your training. For example residential and industrial plumbers get their training in career and technical schools or community colleges and from on-the-job training. Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters working for commercial enterprises are usually trained through formal apprenticeship programs. While there are no uniform national licensing guidelines, most states require plumbers to be licensed, which includes passing an examination testing knowledge and plumbing codes.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that a 4 or 5-year apprenticeship is one way that most plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters learn the trade. Each year, apprentices should accumulated between 1,700 to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and a minimum of 246 hours of related technical education.
This also includes 144 hours of coursework in reading specifications, drafting, sketching, math, practical science, safety procedures, regulations that govern plumbing careers, and building codes. Other plumbing courses may include:
- Drawing Interpretation and Plan Reading
- Water Supply
- Soldering and Brazing
Plumbers typically specialize in one of five areas. Pipe layers lay clay, concrete, plastic, and cast-iron pipe for drains, sewers, water mains, and oil or gas lines. Pipelayers and pipe fitters prepare and grade the trenches either manually or with machines, before laying the pipe. After laying the pipe, pipe layers weld, glue, cement or join the pipe pieces together.
Plumbers install and repair the water, waste disposal, drainage, and gas systems in homes and commercial and industrial buildings; they also install plumbing fixtures (bathtubs, showers, sinks, toilet) and appliances (dishwashers, water heaters, and refrigerators). Plumbers also work with high- and low-pressure pipe systems used in manufacturing, in the generating electricity, and in heating and cooling systems of buildings. Steamfitters install pipe systems that move liquids or gases under high pressure, while sprinkler fitters install automatic fire sprinkler systems in buildings.
Estimated Income and Projected Career Outlook
After enrolling in plumbing courses, generally apprentices start at of at about 50% of the wage rate paid to experienced pipelayers, plumbers, pipe fitters, and steam fitters, with hourly wages increasing as skills improve. Pipe layers, plumbers, pipe fitters, and steam fitters are among the highest paid construction occupations, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (BLS).
Wages for plumbers can vary greatly based on city, state, and industry. So if you live in Denver, you may want to contact local Denver plumbers or check local job listings before committing yourself to learning the trade. Median hourly income for pipe layers in May 2004 was $13.68, the middle 50% earned $11.05- $18.69, the lowest 10% earned less than $9.19. The highest 10 percent earned more than $25.07. Median hourly wages were $19.85. The middle 50% earned $15.01- $26.67, the lowest 10% earned less than $11.62, and the highest 10% earned more than $33.72. Some industries pay those in plumbing careers as follows:
- Natural gas distribution $23.86
- Nonresidential building construction $21.55
- Building equipment contractors $19.85
- Utility system construction $18.29
- Local government $16.30
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 percent from 2010 to 2020 (BLS).
Job opportunities for those who have taken required plumbing courses and have attained substantial experience are expected to be good, as demand for skilled pipe layers, plumbers, pipe fitters, and steam fitters is expected to outpace the supply of workers trained in this craft. Employment of pipe layers, plumbers, pipe fitters, and steam fitters is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations, with demand for plumbers stemming from new construction and building renovation.
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