Plumber, pipe fitting, lays out, assembles, installs, and maintains pipe systems, pipe supports, and related hydraulic and pneumatic equipment for steam, hot water, heating, cooling, lubricating, sprinkling, and industrial production and processing systems, applying knowledge of system operation, and following blueprints: selects type and size of pipe, and related materials and equipment, for example supports, hangers, and hydraulic cylinders, according to specifications. Inspects work site to determine presence of obstructions and to ascertain that holes cut for pipe will not cause structural weakness.
Plans installation or repair to avoid obstructions and to avoid interfering with activities of other workers. Cuts pipe, using saws, pipe cutter, hammer and chisel, cutting torch, and pipe cutting machine. Threads pipe, using pipe threading machine. Bends pipe, using pipe bending tools and pipe bending machine. Assembles and installs variety of metal and nonmetal pipes, tubes, and fittings, including iron, steel, copper, and plastic.
Connects pipes, using threaded, caulked, soldered, brazed, fused, or cemented joints, and hand tools. Secures pipes to structure with brackets, clamps, and hangers, using hand tools and power tools. Installs and maintains hydraulic and pneumatic components of machines and equipment, for example pumps and cylinders, using hand tools. Installs and maintains refrigeration and air-conditioning systems, including compressors, pumps, meters, pneumatic and hydraulic controls, and piping, using hand tools and power tools, and following specifications and blueprints. Increases pressure in pipe system and observes connected pressure gauge to test system for leaks.
May also weld pipe supports to structural steel members. May also observe production machines in assigned area of manufacturing facility to detect machinery malfunctions. May also operate machinery to verify repair. May also modify programs of automated machinery, for example robots and conveyors, to change motion and speed of machine, using teach pendant, control panel, or keyboard and display screen of robot controller and programmable controller. May also be designated Steam Fitter when installing piping systems that must withstand high pressure. May also be designated according to type of system installed as Pipe Fitter, Pipe Fitter, Fire-Sprinkler Systems Pipe Fitter, Gas Pipe or type of piping used as Pipe Fitter, Plastic Pipe Pipe Fitter, Soft Copper.
NOTE: The following description is a GENERAL Overview of this career and not a description of a particular job posting.
Pipefitters are typically tasked with installing and maintaining high and low pressure pipe systems, supports, and related equipment aboard waterborne or Naval vessels. A pipefitter is often required to lay out and fabricate full-scale pipe systems (including fire or sprinkler systems) prior to installation using blueprints and templates. Pipefitters must be familiar with the use of basic shop tools and machinery such as grinders, power and hand cutters, presses, bending machines, die and pipe threading machines. Pipefitters also must be familiar with various pipe joining techniques such as soldering, welding, and brazing.
National Median Wages (2010): $22.43 hourly, $46,660 annually
VSRA Median Wage Report: $19.49 hourly
VSRA Entry-level/Helper: $13.73 hourly
Most pipefitter careers require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, and/or an associate's degree. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is typically required.