How to Become a Pipefitter
Skilled trades such as plumbing and pipe fitting require dedication, determination and knowledge of design and installation. Additional training includes blueprint reading and learning specific tools of the trade. A pipefitter must install pipelines that transport liquid and gas, and these piping structures often require maintenance repairs and welding procedures. To learn how to become a pipefitter, proper education and certified training is necessary.
Available Pipefitter Educational Programs
Interested candidates pursuing a career in pipe fitting have several options and training paths available. To begin, a person may visit a local plumbing company to work as an apprentice under a professional. Normally, this apprenticeship serves as a precursor to a certificate or diploma. However, even with a plumbing degree, most pipefitters still undergo an apprenticeship that lasts between three and five years.
Pipe Fitting Certificate – Pipe fitting construction certificates are available from many technical schools and community colleges. Programs offered at these schools consist of hands-on training and curriculum involving blueprint reading and math. Typically, a pipe fitting certificate program takes less than one year to complete.
Welding Diploma – Obtaining a pipe fitting or welding diploma normally takes one year. Students receive hands-on experience such as laying and welding pipes. A welding program covers topics such as math and various gas and electric piping.
Plumbing Associate’s Degree – An associate’s degree program typically takes two years to complete, and it covers both plumbing and pipe fitting topics such as piping math and blueprint reading. A plumbing associate’s degree program also offers a majority of the education necessary for pipefitters.
Becoming a Licensed Pipefitter
Regardless of the education, most states require licenses for pipefitters. These licensing requirements vary from state to state, and many employers require a license prior to hiring a new pipefitter. Keep in mind that a pipefitter cannot achieve a license until he or she completes an apprenticeship. A company may sponsor its apprentice, but most apprentices work with self-employed pipefitters and must seek licensure on their own.
After achieving an education, finishing an apprenticeship and obtaining a license, a new pipefitter must advertise his or her skills and build a professional reputation. Some pipefitters seek employment from plumbing and pipe fitting companies, but others may choose to work out of a home office. Regardless, many pipefitters choose a specific industry and work their way up to senior positions, which offer higher pay and increased benefits.