Pipefitter/Steamfitter  What They Do

Just the Facts


Lays out, assembles, installs, and maintains pipe systems, pipe supports, and related hydraulic and pneumatic equipment for steam, hot water, heating, cooling, lubricating, sprinkling, and industrial production and processing systems.

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


A person in this career:

  • Cuts, threads, or hammers pipes to specifications, using tools such as saws, cutting torches, pipe threaders, or pipe benders.
  • Lays out full scale drawings of pipe systems, supports, or related equipment, according to blueprints.
  • Assembles or secures pipes, tubes, fittings, or related equipment, according to specifications, by welding, brazing, cementing, soldering, or threading joints.
  • Measures and marks pipes for cutting or threading.
  • Inspects, examines, or tests installed systems or pipe lines, using pressure gauge, hydrostatic testing, observation, or other methods.
  • Plans pipe system layout, installation, or repair, according to specifications.
  • Attaches pipes to walls, structures, or fixtures, such as radiators or tanks, using brackets, clamps, tools, or welding equipment.
  • Modifies, cleans, or maintains pipe systems, units, fittings, or related machines or equipment, using hand or power tools.
  • Selects pipe sizes, types, or related materials, such as supports, hangers, or hydraulic cylinders, according to specifications.
  • Cuts or bores holes in structures, such as bulkheads, decks, walls, or mains, prior to pipe installation, using hand or power tools.

Insider Info

Dig into the details and check out what people in this job have to say about their work.



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 keeping or regaining your balance more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupations requires climbing things such as ladders, scaffold, and poles 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
  • Lighting is either extremely bright or inadequate
  • 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 requires being inside most 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
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time
  • Work at heights above 8 feet more than once a month on structures such as ladders, poles, scaffolding, and catwalks

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Picking out a particular sound in the presence of other sounds
  • Maintaining a body position that prevents falling when in an unstable position
  • Moving the arms, legs and torso together when the whole body is in motion
  • 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

  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Gas Fitter -- Installs, inspects, repairs and maintains gas lines and gas equipment such as meters, regulators, heating units and appliances in residential, commercial and industrial establishments.
  • Irrigation Technician -- Designs, installs and maintains of irrigation systems.
  • Marine Pipefitter -- Installs and maintains fire fighting, bilge, hydraulic steering, sanitary, potable water, hot water heating, fuel, and exhaust piping systems on dredges and ferries.
  • Plumber -- Installs, repairs and maintains pipes, fixtures and other plumbing equipment used for water distribution and waste water disposal in residential, commercial and industrial buildings.
  • Steam Fitter -- Installs, maintains, and modifies of all parts of a steam distribution and return system.