Careers

Pipefitter

What is a Pipefitter?

A pipefitter is similar to a plumber in that both work with, install and manipulate pipes. However the pipes a pipefitter works with must carry liquids or gases at high pressure for industrial purposes, while a plumber deals with pipes that carry water at low pressure. Pipefitters fit sections of metal pipe together by cutting them precisely and using techniques such as threading, bending and welding.

How much does a Pipefitter earn?

The salary of a pipefitter varies wildly, and can be anything from £8 to £35 an hour depending on experience, location, how much overtime is involved and how hazardous the work is. Pay will be higher if working offshore or in remote areas. Annual salaries are around £17,000 to £35,000 on average, although there is scope to earn a lot more.

So tell me more about how to be a Pipefitter

You can enter this profession by training as an apprentice and learning on the job. To be accepted as an Apprentice in this field you will usually need to have GCSEs grade D-E in maths, English and sciences.

Becoming a Pipefitter: What does it take?

Entering this occupation requires a mixture of apprentice and college training. Typically, it takes 3-5 years to learn the ropes, with a large amount of on-the-job training and eight weeks’ technical training in the classroom. During an apprenticeship, pipefitters learn all the necessary skills, such as threading, grinding, welding, soldering, and working with metal.

Being a pipefitter requires physical strength and patience. You will need to lift heavy objects and climb ladders often. You must also be able to read and interpret blueprints as well as create your own sketches of pipe fabrication and installation plans, work with others to install the piping system and take charge where necessary.

What is the job market like for careers in pipefitting?

The outlook for pipefitting as a career in the UK looks promising, with opportunities to maximise earnings by working offshore, working on oil pipelines under the North Sea.

Pipefitting courses and training to build your career

The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) runs courses for existing pipefitters. These can lead to VQ assessment and their duration depends on the skills you have already and what your employer’s timescales are.

Your employer might also encourage you to take further training with a provider such as NETA, which offers a range of pipefitting courses including Overseas and Offshore, Mechanical/Fabrication and Welding, Lifting and Slinging (rigging).

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