Attending college might not be for you. If you are exploring careers, taking the ‘blue collar’ route is something that can be rewarding if you like working with your hands. You will have a chance in the interview to express the point that you don’t see yourself reporting to an office for the next 30 years. Some tips on a blue collar interview can be found HERE.
What is a Pipefitter?
The role of a pipefitter is someone that takes on all aspects of systems that deal with pipes. This includes repairing them, installing them, maintenance, and coming up with better plans and ideas to create systems that work well. Since there are so many different elements involved in this type of job, it does take time to learn it. This can be a great job for someone that thinks creatively and likes hands on types of jobs.
As a pipefitter, you will be working with a variety of high pressure pipes that are typically used in an industrial setting. Being familiar the right type of metal for the piping to be made from is essential. Some options include carbon steel, stainless steel, and various alloy metals. The type of pipe used will be determined by the process that it is used for. Some piping systems transport liquids, gas, some under high pressure, some low.
Typically, the piping system is designed and specified by a team of design engineers. The pipefitters will install the system and are called upon to maintain it or to perform modifications –that are also engineered.
Understanding the various methods for cutting the metals, threading them, creating grooves, welding and soldering are all part of the learning process. It takes time to understand the various scenarios where the right methods and metals should be used. That is why such training takes such a long time. There are too many variables to take a one size fits all approach with this type of work.
How to become a Pipefitter
There are many different ways to become a pipefitter. One of the most common ways it through an apprenticeship. This involves working along with someone that already knows the job inside and out. By working with them in such a capacity, it is possible to explore all of the different areas of this type of work over time. Generally, such an apprenticeship lasts for 4 or 5 years. Part of the apprenticeship training involves attending night school twice a week.
It is also possible to go to a trade school during the day or at night to learn how to become a pipefitter. Such training will teach you the basics and should have lots of hands on training as part of it.
Certification & Testing
Before you can work as a pipefitter on your own, you will need to have the proper certifications that are required. Most of the states require an apprenticeship. There are states that will allow for certification to be done through the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). For those that belong to a union, successful completion of the apprenticeship curriculum will certify you as a Journeyman Pipefitter. Additionally, all welders must be pass a certification test on various welding processes, as required. There are various processes that a welder might qualify for but not all of them are needed at once.
All things considered, a pipefitter is a well-respected, highly skilled craftsman that is paid rather well for the knowledge and skills he (or she) must display on a daily basis. It is not unheard of for people in middle age to make a career change and begin as an apprentice.
mage: PEO, ACWA