Pipelayer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Lays pipe for storm or sanitation sewers, drains, and water mains. Performs any combination of the following tasks: grade trenches or culverts, position pipe, or seal joints.

This career is part of the Architecture and Construction cluster Construction pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Installs or uses instruments such as lasers, grade rods, or transit levels.
  • Cuts pipes to required lengths.
  • Covers pipes with earth or other materials.
  • Connects pipe pieces and seal joints, using welding equipment, cement, or glue.
  • Installs or repairs sanitary or stormwater sewer structures or pipe systems.
  • Aligns and positions pipes to prepare them for welding or sealing.
  • Checks slopes for conformance to requirements, using levels or lasers.
  • Lays out pipe routes, following written instructions or blueprints and coordinating layouts with supervisors.
  • Grades or levels trench bases, using tamping machines or hand tools.
  • Operates mechanized equipment, such as pickup trucks, rollers, tandem dump trucks, front-end loaders, or backhoes.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 50 lbs., sometimes up to 100 lbs. You will need a lot of strength at this level.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Requires getting into awkward positions
  • Conditions are very hot (above 90 F) or very cold (under 32 F)
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Exposed to hazardous equipment such as saws, machinery, or vehicular traffic more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves kneeling, crouching, stooping, and/or crawling more than one-third of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves making repetitive motions more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of special protective items such as a breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suit, or radiation protection
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Whole body vibrations, such as when operating a jackhammer
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying objects
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Plumbing Technician -- Services and repairs residential and commercial plumbing systems.