Apprenticeship Pipe fittersA pipe fitter usually starts off as an apprentice, or in some cases a helper. They are the trades people who are responsible for the assembly, installation, maintenance, repairs, and fabrication of piping systems. Not all pipe fitters work with plumbers, some work in welding, construction, or other related fields.
The period of apprenticeship may vary from company to company, but 3-5 years is common. Furthermore, those who are seeking an apprenticeship must be over the age of 18. Most companies require a GED or a diploma and a valid drivers license.
Journeyman Pipe fittersWhen a pipe fitter moves up to the level of Journeyman it means they have the basic skills needed to do most pipe fitting processes without assistance. Often, Journeyman pipe fitters work with piping in marine, commercial, or industrial fields or they work with heating and cooling units.
At the beginning of any project which requires piping, a pipe fitter will measure the pipes to be used and cut them to the appropriate length. They will also mark where cuts need to be made, where welding needs to happen, and where threading will occur. The accuracy of these markings determines the accuracy of the rest of the project.
These pipes may go on to become parts of larger projects. In more cases than not however, the pipe fitter will attach the pipes to walls, radiators, tanks, and structures. They make sure that the layouts are being followed and that installations and repairs are being completed according to the specifications.
The job frequently requires fitters to replace or remove components which are worn out. They may also need to modify systems which are previously installed and inspect the pipes and components for blockages or leaks.
Jack of all TradesDue to the nature of the work, it is often necessary for a pipe fitter to have other skills. To varying degrees, a pipe fitter may need to know how to weld. There is also the requirement of knowing how to use certain tools. These may include; pipe threaders, benders, cutting torches, saws, levels, brackets, and clamps.
ToolsMost of these tools are pretty self explanatory. Some of them you may have learned to use as a kid. If this is not the case, fear not. Most certification programs will require you to develop a working knowledge of these tools. If you want to get a jump start on your training, the internet is full of videos and blogs that explain it easily.
Pipe fitting is far from glamorous, but it is work which is in demand. You can make a good living as a pipe fitter. Especially if you are really good at it. Because pipe fitters can be used in so many industries, there are many places eagerly hiring. This is a great trade that is sure to be needed for years to come.