Becoming A Pipefitter Isn’t as ‘Simple’ as You Think It Is

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Donovan Embry, pipefitter ambassador
Donovan Embry didn't know he wanted to be a pipefitter, but it turned out to be a great decision. (Credit: Courtesy Donovan Embry)

It takes time and skill to become a pipefitter, but Donovan Embry says he has no regrets about taking this path. In his second year of an apprenticeship program, he offers the perspective of someone just getting his start in the trade. 

His take? He wishes he’d known about this option sooner!

Why did you get into pipefitting?

I had a friend who had mentioned that his trade was taking applications for their apprenticeship program at UA Local 440 in Indianapolis, and I decided that this line of work could be a good career fit for me. I hadn’t always wanted to be a pipefitter, but as I was introduced to the work and was able to see what they did, I learned it was enjoyable work.

What does a typical day as a pipefitter look like?

A typical day can have a lot of variety. We are usually running pipe, reading prints and soldering piping. Basically, we do whatever task that gets the job done.

What do you like most about your job? And least?

The thing I like most about my job is the variety of tasks and skills that you get to use on a daily basis. I use many different power tools, math skills and heavy equipment to get material where it needs to be and the piping run properly.

The least favorite thing has to be being out in the elements. Especially with new construction, you get exposure to the elements, and it can add some difficulty to the work.

What’s the most common misconception about your job?

I think the biggest misconception about the job is that it's a simple job and it doesn’t take a lot of training to do the work. Before getting into the trade, I didn't realize how much math and skill was involved in doing the work well. It takes a lot of time and experience to make your work look professional.

What do you wish you knew about the job before you got into it?

I wish I had known how many opportunities and avenues that there are. The person who applies themself to this skill can get a number of certifications that make them more valuable as a worker. I wish I had known about the job 10 years ago.

Why would you recommend that someone go into pipefitting?

Going into this line of work gives a person great wages, a skill that is valuable, opportunity to travel, and work that you can be proud of at the end of the day. You are really making a difference and making people’s lives better by doing this work.

Can you describe one particular moment or day on the job that gave you real satisfaction?

I would have to say that at the end of the day when you are able to see the work completed and it looks professional, it’s a satisfying feeling — especially when you have a great team of workers. I have had a lot of those days. It’s difficult to narrow it down to one!

What personality traits would make someone a good fit for this job?

Qualities that are key to this type of work are attention to detail, not afraid of hard work, not being afraid to get dirty, and enjoying seeing work being completed. This can be a really satisfying job, and part of that is being able to bring positivity to the job every day.

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