A pipefitter is a tradesperson who specialises in installing, building and repairing piping systems, ensuring that materials flow between an origin and their destination safely and without any leaks.
The pipefitter is generally responsible for a smooth operation of the pipework, and must be able to understand blueprints and install pipes correctly, understanding the sometimes dangerous nature of the chemicals that the pipes they create are transporting.
Duties may include:
- Inspect worksite to determine presence of obstructions and ascertain any weaknesses
- Plan installation or repair work, avoiding obstructions
- Cut, thread, and bend pipe
- Install and assemble a variety of metal and non-metal pipes, tubes, and fittings
- Connect pipes
- Secure pipes to structure
- Install and maintain hydraulic and pneumatic components of machines and equipment
- Increase pressure in pipe system, observing connected pressure gauge, to test for leaks in the system
- Observe production machines to detect machinery malfunctions
Desirable skills and attributes:
- Managerial skills
- Mechanical skills
- Physical strength
- Troubleshooting skills
- Organise your time and prioritise tasks efficiently
- Effective communication skills
- Practical approach to work
Qualifications and experience needed:
Pipefitters often start out as apprentices with established pipefitters for 4-5 years, incorporating in class education with on the job training.
Aside from practical training, a common academic route is through the City & Guilds Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Mechanical Engineering, specialising in pipefitting and assembly.
Pipefitters may choose to specialise in more advanced systems, and branch out into a more specialised area of piping, such as steam units, ventilation, hydraulics, oil and gas, and chemical systems.