A pipe fitter is a specialized plumber who installs, maintains, and repairs pipes on big jobs in an industrial setting. This is a simplified pipe fitter job description, but it tells you everything you need to know. It’s a job that’s constantly in high demand—and with good reason. Pipe fitting is an important, impactful, and steady profession, but why is the job so important?
Pipe Fitter Work
First of all, pipe fitters work and mold many different types of pipe. Pipe fitters work with metals such as stainless steel or other alloys, shaping them through welding and bending to fit industrial specifications. Pipe fitters are part of every step of the process from planning to installation using welding equipment such as cutting torches and hand and power tools.
They manipulate pipe and metal in different ways, including:
Handling metals in this manner requires extensive pipe fitter training, eventually leading to a pipe fitter certification that proves the individual has mastered their craft. Fitters take on the role of a plumber but on a much larger scale. Because they handle industrial-grade materials and pipes, they are under strict guidelines and pressure to perform exactly as required by the industry and prevent issues down the road through carefully following proper procedures. The work they do is unique, and the benefits they offer are immense to businesses that need large pipework in place.
When pipes are created and fixed by the fitter, they transport them on location and install them. Installation is one of the most important jobs to maintain a pipe system. The fitter needs to avoid obstructions and perform their job in such a way that the work of the building isn’t affected. They perform tests on the pipe to ensure everything is perfect, can handle high-pressure environments, has no deformities or leaks, and can handle constant use. They adjust as needed and have the tools and skills to repair or replace existing pipes.
A fitter acts as a service technician in a pinch and understands which industries need certain materials for their pipes. For example, oil and gas pipes require materials that are different from those used for pipes found in medical facilities.
Badge of Honor
A pipe fitter certification is the mark of a skilled fitter. This shows that they are well beyond entry level and apprenticeship programs and have reached the pinnacle of their trade. They are able to draw up or interpret blueprints, helping make sense of a project gone awry or creating a fresh project that will be implemented smoothly. They understand which materials are needed in pipes for each industry, how to manipulate the materials to form the ideal pipe, and how to install it without issue.
Pipe fitters take pride in their work, cutting, threading, installing, or repairing—all with a sense of purpose and drive. Their work is an art to them, and they aim to provide services that are seen as such.
Although pipe fitting is similar in nature to plumbing, the services pipe fitters offer are much more specialized. Plumbers handle residential cases and, in some instances, commercial projects. Fitters handle industrial projects, which are much greater in scale and complexity. Industrial projects are magnitudes larger than residential projects, take longer to implement, and vary depending on the industry they’re associated with.
Pipe fitters also work more with welding than water and sanitation, making them a different breed of plumber altogether. Pipe fitters work in conditions that tend to differ greatly from standard plumbers, making their work invaluable to industrial businesses.
When you are looking to start a project that enhances your business and the job is larger than a plumber could manage, you need a pipe fitter to handle the project. SWPTA offers union services to instruct and prepare pipe fitters for industry work. Our apprenticeships prepare fitters for any potential situation in any industry, offering them the skills needed to create a work of art all their own.
If you are looking for a career opportunity and the training needed to perfect a hands-on trade, contact Southwest Pipe Trades Association today.