About the Job
Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair piping that carries liquids or gases in residential, commercial, and industrial locations.
What You’ll Do
As with most professions in the construction industry, plumbers must read and understand construction documents, plans, and specifications. They also need to follow state and local regulations, as well as building codes. Reading plans allows these workers to estimate how much material is needed and the type of equipment necessary for its installation. As well as installing pipelines, plumbers also inspect and repair systems to ensure that they run properly and troubleshoot problems. They also periodically replace old parts.
Although plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are three distinct specialties, their duties are often similar. Master plumbers who have gained years of experience in the field may develop a plumbing layout for new construction projects. Their experience and input ensures the project meets code and is accomplished within budget.
The following are examples of types of plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters:
- Gasfitters work with natural gas pipes and systems.
- Plumbers work with liquid lines in water and storm runoff systems.
- Pipefitters install and maintain mechanical piping systems.
- Sprinklerfitters install and maintain emergency and recreational sprinkler systems.
- Steamfitters install and maintain steam systems.
Qualities and Skills Needed
Careers in plumbing normally require the completion of an apprenticeship, though some have gained experience as assistants. Others attend technical school to earn a degree, the credits of which can be used toward completing an apprenticeship. Although many routes to become a plumber are available, a high-school diploma or equivalent is required, as is licensing in many US states.
Many technical schools are available for general or specialized training. Technical schools offer courses on pipe system design, safety, and tool use, as well as welding courses considered to be necessary by some pipefitter and steamfitter apprenticeship training programs.
Most plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters learn their trade during a 4–5-year apprenticeship. With additional coursework and several years of plumbing experience, plumbers can become eligible to earn master status.
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The average starting salary is $36,764. With experience, they can possibly earn up to or over $66,425.