How to Get a Career as a Union Pipefitter

Intersecting streets symbolizing the road map to success shared by union pipefitters

Just the idea of sitting in a cubicle for eight hours a day, five days a week is enough to send shivers down some people’s spine. If this sounds like you, then you’re likely the kind of person who likes moving around and working with your hands performing physical tasks. If that’s the case, then pipefitting may be the career for you. 

There’s no better time to become a pipefitter than now. In fact, the field is one of the top 30 fastest growing professions in the country. On top of that, the industry is expected to grow by 14% between now and 2028. To start your pipefitter career, here is what you’ll need to do:

The Steps to Becoming a Pipefitter

There are plenty of reasons why you may want to become a pipefitter. In addition to pipefitting being a growing profession, it offers job security and good pay, and since most pipefitters end up joining a union, you’ll also have access to excellent benefits. However, before you get started on your path, you should know what a pipefitter does. 

Pipelines are used to transport liquids, gases, and raw materials to their destinations. As such, they play a crucial role in maintaining the way we live. It’s these pipes that keep homes, factories, and other structures supplied with the resources they need to operate. It’s the pipefitter’s job to assemble these pipelines and maintain them.

The job typically involves preparing, cutting, and welding steel pipe for construction projects, infrastructure maintenance, manufacturing facilities, and more. Because of this, someone looking to become a pipefitter will need to be knowledgeable and well versed in many types of welding. You’ll also need to understand the math and science behind the techniques. That’s why the first step to becoming a pipefitter is education.

Get Educated

Becoming a full-fledged pipefitter is a step-by-step process, and the first step is enrolling in accredited classes. Many trade schools, technical/vocational schools, and community colleges offer these programs. It’s here where you’ll build the foundation of your knowledge, learning subjects like blueprint reading, math, and welding. From there, you’ll be in a good position to apply for an apprenticeship.

Start a Pipefitter Apprenticeship

The next step in the process is to begin an apprenticeship. These opportunities not only give you valuable on-the-job training, but they can also provide connections with hiring managers and other industry professionals. Typically, an apprenticeship program will last for about four to five years, is paid, and will have you working between 1,700 to 2,000 hours a year under supervision.

Becoming a Journeyman Pipefitter

Your path to becoming a journeyman pipefitter will be dependent on where you’re located. Some states will require you to be licensed and other states require additional training and a special permit if you want to work on gas lines. In general, however, you’ll be required to pass an exam that will cover a variety of subjects related to the profession. After you pass, you’ll be a journeyman pipefitter, able to accept and work on contracts without the supervision of an experienced pipefitter. In three to five years after that, you’ll be able to apply for the master pipefitter exam.

Joining a Union

As mentioned previously, once people enter the field of pipefitting, most people tend to join a union. This is because unions not only secure benefits for workers, but they can also help you achieve certifications, ensure safe work conditions, and provide job security. If you’re interested in joining a union, all you need to do is find your local chapter and get in contact. If you have no experience, you’ll likely be required to finish an apprenticeship to ensure you have the proper training.  

Southwest Pipe Trades and MCA Texas Joint Marketing Committee Can Help

Southwest Pipe Trades and MCA Texas Joint Marketing Committee was founded in 1914 to represent the common interests of union workers. As such, our organization is dedicated to the wellbeing of laborers in the plumbing and pipefitting industry. We work to help educate the public on the benefits of unionizing. To learn more, contact us today!

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