Plumber, pipefitter and steamfitter essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $49,140
- 2012, number of jobs: 340,370
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 18 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Less than high school
Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters; what they do:
Homes, businesses and factories need good plumbing; plumbers help keep offices, buildings and residences sanitary. Plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters maintain, assemble and repair drainage systems, pipes and pipe systems which carry water, gas, air, or other liquids to and in residential homes, businesses and factories.
Plumber, pipefitter, and steamfitter careers include maintaining and installing pipe systems and fixtures, reading blueprints and following building codes, assessing materials and equipment needed. Plumber, pipefitter, and steamfitter careers also include testing pipelines and systems, replacing old or damaged parts and repairing pipes and pipe systems when needed.
Plumber, pipefitter and steamfitter skills and job duties tend to overlap; however, they are each specialized in different areas. For example, pipefitters commonly maintain manufacturing or industrial pipes which carry gases, acids and different chemicals, whereas steamfitters specialize in piping systems that carry steam under high pressure. Master plumbers work in settings such as construction sites where they develop blueprints which demonstrate where all the necessary pipes and fixtures will be located.
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Plumber, pipefitter and steamfitter job titles:
- Plumber Gasfitter
- Residential Plumber
- Commercial Plumber
- Machine Repairman
- Pipe Welder
- Pipe Fitter
- Sprinkler Fitter
Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters Education, Certification and License Requirements
Typically people interested in a plumber, pipefitter or steamfitter career need a high school diploma or equivalent, pass basic math, and train as an apprentice.
Businesses and unions usually offer apprenticeships which can take 4 to 5 years to complete. For each year apprentices receive training, they must earn at least 1700 to 2000 hours of paid onsite training and a minimum of 246 hours of technical instruction. They receive education about blueprints, safety, plumbing codes, applied physics, chemistry and math. After they complete their training they can work independently as a journey worker.
In most states plumbers need a license. In addition, in some localities pipefitters need a license.
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Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters Job Outlook
Forecast: 26 percent employment growth for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters from 2010 to 2020, faster than the average for all occupations.
The retirement of plumbers as well as the increase of energy efficient building construction and water efficiency standards for pipe systems and fixtures increases the demand for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters.
The change to the International Residential Code in 2011 requires new homes to have fire sprinkler systems, spurring further need for plumbers and sprinklerfitters.
Construction of new power plants with specialized piping and steam systems increases the need for pipefitters and steamfitters and even with the recent economic downturn, plumbing, steamfitter and pipefitter careers tend to remain stable.
Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $49,140
- 2012 workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $66,050
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $36,860
Plumbers, Pipefitters and Steamfitters Major Employers
- Plumbing, heating and air conditioning industry