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What Does a Pipefitter or Steamfitter Do?

Pipefitters or steamfitters start with a blueprint or drawing and make it a reality. These craftsmen are responsible for every aspect of the installation and maintenance of piping systems. They work on residential, commercial and industrial construction projects. The primary difference between pipefitters and steamfitters is the material transported through the pipe systems they design, install or maintain. Pipefitters work with low-pressure and high-pressure systems that are used in heating and cooling, manufacturing and electricity generation. Steamfitters specialize in systems designed for the flow of liquids or gases at high pressure. Established pipefitters and steamfitters often work independently.

Night, weekend and on-call work are sometimes required.

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$ 30,000 - $ 97,000
$ 55,000
48,300+
A pipefitter cuts a steel pipe before installation
Your comfort level with the tools of trade will be a key to your success as a pipefitter or steamfitter. (Credit: OtmarW/Shutterstock)
A Day In the Life
Image
Steamfitter Todd Clements
A Day In the Life

Todd Clements gets a lot of satisfaction knowing that the work he does is saving lives — maybe not like an EMT saves lives, but just as crucial. 

Todd is a steamfitter, and he creates piping systems for industrial processes, including systems for the pharmaceutical industry. 

"The medicines that people use every day are made with the help of people like us," Todd says proudly. 

Like many people, he didn't know what this job involved. That is until he learned about a an apprenticeship program with UA Local 440 in Indianapolis, which supports plumbers, pipefitter, steamfitters and HVACR service technicians. 

"I didn’t know anything about the trade before I got accepted. With the great instructors and on-the-job training, it helped me develop the skills needed to be a great mechanic in our trade."

Read more about why Todd enjoys being a steamfitter.

Interested in hearing from a pipefitter? Meet ambassador Donovan Embry and learn why he's happy he got the chance to become a pipefitter apprentice.

Job Responsibilities
  • Cut, thread or hammer pipes to specifications, using tools such as saws, cutting torches, pipe threaders or pipe benders
  • Read blueprints and make pipe systems based on those specifications
  • Assemble or secure pipes, tubes and fittings by welding, brazing, cementing, soldering or threading joints
  • Inspect, examine or test installed systems
  • Modify, clean or maintain pipe systems
  • Prepare cost estimates for clients
Education + Training

Employers typically require a high school diploma or equivalent. Training to enter the pipefitter or steamfitter trade is similar, and usually requires a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Most training is conducted through an apprenticeship that can last up to five years. Community colleges and trade schools also offer training programs. At least 144 hours of courses are required in subjects such as drafting, mathematics, chemistry, blueprint reading and physics. Many states require a license to reach journeyman status, and many pipefitters and steamfitters take additional time and training to reach the master level.

YOU MAY BE A GOOD FIT FOR THIS POSITION IF YOU
  • Have a talent for problem-solving 
  • Have excellent analytical skills
  • Have strong math skills
  • Are collaborative
  • Have strong communication skills
  • Are physically fit and limber enough to fit into tight spaces

Pipefitter / Steamfitter Training in Your Area

Coordinates
Texas State Technical College logo

Plumbing & Pipefitting Technology Certificate 2

Texas State Technical College
Waco (384.8 Miles)
Richland Community College logo

Pipefitting & Pipe Welding Certificate

Richland Community College
Decatur (416.4 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Pipefitting IV NCCER Certificate

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Pipefitting III NCCER Certificate

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Pipefitting I NCCER Certificate

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Pipefitting II NCCER Certificate

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Jones County Junior College logo

Pipefitter, A.A.S.

Jones County Junior College
Ellisville (530.9 Miles)
Jones County Junior College logo

Pipefitter Technical Certificate

Jones County Junior College
Ellisville (530.9 Miles)
Jones County Junior College logo

Pipefitter Career Certificate

Jones County Junior College
Ellisville (530.9 Miles)
Milwaukee Area Technical College logo

Steamfitter (Construction) Apprenticeship

Milwaukee Area Technical College
Milwaukee (581.7 Miles)
Milwaukee Area Technical College logo

Steamfitter (Refrigeration) Apprenticeship

Milwaukee Area Technical College
Milwaukee (581.7 Miles)
Milwaukee Area Technical College logo

Industrial Pipe Fitter Apprenticeship

Milwaukee Area Technical College
Milwaukee (581.7 Miles)

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