Plumber vs. Pipefitter: What’s The Difference?

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Plumber vs. Pipefitter What's The Difference

A pipefitter and a plumber both work with pipes that carry water, sewage, or other fluids. However, they perform a variety of tasks that are distinct from each other. While a plumber deals with plumbing fixtures, water supply lines, and drainage, pipefitters work specifically with piping in various industries. Learn more about the differences between a plumber vs pipefitter.

What Does a Pipefitter Do?

Pipefitters are more likely to work in industrial settings and have extensive experience with welding. They also use concrete tools and jackhammers.

They use acetylene torches and small hand tools when installing a pipe system in a factory or service station. They also need to know how to weld in places that can cause damage, such as under the floor.

While plumbers work in residential and commercial settings, pipefitters do most of their work on large-scale constriction projects and industrial settings.

Working as a Plumber vs. Pipefitter

The job outlook for both plumbers and pipefitters is very positive. The number of available positions is expected to increase over the next decade.

There are several things to consider when choosing a career as a plumber or pipefitter, including your interests, your physical abilities and your career goals.

You should also consider the work environment and your ability to handle confined spaces.

If you are a good communicator, you might enjoy working with customers and negotiating contracts and projects. In this way, you can build relationships and stay in touch with them in the long run.

Having a strong sense of responsibility, patience and empathy are helpful in the field of plumbing. These skills will also help you maintain good relationships with customers and contractors.

How to Become a Pipefitter

If you’ve looked at careers in plumbing, you quickly discover plumbers have to work with all kinds of messes. Rarely do they have the pleasure of installing new, clean plumbing. A career in pipefitting is a great choice if the messy side of plumbing has deterred you. 

1. Attend a Trade School for Pipefitters

If you want to become a pipefitter, start by getting training at a vocational trade school or plumbing school. Often, these schools are accredited and will provide industry-standard learning.

2. Start an Apprentice Pipefitter Program

To become a pipefitter, you need to complete a formal five year apprenticeship program. The best way to complete this is through a union apprenticeship, although plumbing companies also offer pipefitting apprenticeships. During this time, you learn the basics of welding pipes, pipe systems and other skills. Click here to find apprentice jobs near you.

3. Get a Pipefitter License in Your State

After completion of the apprenticeship, you’ll need to pass a licensing exam to be a professional pipefitter. Most states require this before you can begin working independently.

4. Gain Work Experience as a Pipefitter

Once you have completed the required training and obtained your licensing, it’s time to find some work. You can network with other plumbing and pipefitting professionals in your area, or you can search for pipefitter job openings on

Pipefitting FAQ

Who earns more, plumbers or pipefitters?

Pipefitters earn about $60,000 per year on average, while plumbers earn around $55,000 per year. Check out our salary guides for plumbers and pipefitters to learn more.

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