Pipefitter

Introduction

Plumbers install, repair and maintain the water supply, drainage and central heating in houses and other locations. They use a variety of tools to carry out their work.

Work Activities

As a Pipefitter, you will be a skilled tradesperson, who specialises in installing, repairing and maintaining pipes that carry liquids, gases, or chemicals throughout a particular building or site.

The type of buiding you are working on might include power plants, office building, schools, or shopping centres - basically any building where a system of pipes is required for it to function correctly.

When starting a new job, you will carefully consult the work blueprints and job specifications to help you assemble and install the pipes as they are required for the job in hand.

When installing new pipes you must first select the length of the pipe, and the materials it need to be made of - stainless steel, steel alloy, iron, copper, aluminium, or plastic? This will depend upon what the pipe is expected to carry.

Once the materials and length has been decided, you might need to bend the piping, by machine or with a blow lamp. Then, once in position, you might use welding skills to secure metal based pipes in their required position and to fill any possible gaps. Plastic pipes are joined by a method called cementing, or by fusing (using hot air to melt and join the plastic parts).

As you can imagine, many different skills are required for this role, including:

  • arc welding
  • hot air welding
  • soldering

You will need to use different tools, pieces of equipment and machinery to help you in your work, including:

  • a hacksaw
  • pipe cutting equipment
  • a blow lamp
  • thread cutting equipment
  • overhead cranes for moving heavy materials

Being able to read, write and speak Welsh may be an advantage when you’re looking for work in Wales.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Pipefitter, you'll need:

  • good practical skills
  • to be able to work with great accuracy
  • to work carefully, following specifications and often interpreting plans and drawings
  • awareness of the importance of health and safety in this industry
  • welding and soldering skills would be a great advantage!
  • to be able to work as part of a team and to be able to work on your own

Pay and Opportunities

Pay

The pay rates given below are approximate.

  • Starting: £17,500 - £18,500
  • With experience: £20,000 - £23,500
  • Senior Pipefitters earn £25,500 - £29,500

Hours of work

As a Pipefitter, you can expect to work 37.5 hours a week. Overtime, including Saturday working, may be available.

Where could I work?

Employers are construction contractors in towns and cities throughout the UK, and worldwide.

This career could involve working for an agency.

Self-employment

Opportunities occur for experienced Pipefitters to work as self-employed contractors.

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, on recruitment and employers' websites, and on Find a Job (www.gov.uk/jobsearch).

Social media websites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook, are a great way to network, find vacancies and get in contact with possible employers. Make sure that your profile presents you in a professional manner that will appeal to potential employers.

Take a look at our General Information Article 'Finding Work Online'.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

There are no strict entry requirements to become a Pipefitter, but there are vocational qualifications available that could help you to stand out from the crowd. Relevant vocational qualifications include BTEC and City & Guilds qualifications.

Or you could apply for an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship and train on the job. Once you begin your apprenticeship you may be able to study for a work-based qualification such as a NVQ. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Welding or soldering experience is highly valued by employers and can help you to get into this career.

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

You need a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) card to work on site. These cards show that you are qualified to do the work you've been employed for.

CSCS cards will cost £36 and you will have to pass the appropriate Construction Industry Training Board health, safety and environmental test. This costs £21. You will then complete an application form and pay the total price of £57.

The CSCS application form has four sections that you will have to complete:

  • section A: This section is where you complete your personal details and attach a passport photo or your Health, Safety & Environment Test photo
  • section B: This is where you fill in your occupation details and state which card you need. The different cards are skilled, craft and operative cards.
  • section C: This a declaration section where your current employer, previous employer or a CSCS card holder will declare that you meet the requirements of the card
  • section D: This is the details of your card requirements and what evidence you need to get a CSCS card

Training

If you would like some training, BTEC offer a level 2 qualification in construction and the built environment. This course has a range of mandatory and optional units, which include:

  • construction principles
  • construction design
  • construction technology
  • health and safety in construction

Other courses could be available in your area.

Progression

In the construction industry, it is possible to work up from craft-level positions to managerial roles, such as Construction Site Manager.

Work Experience

Previous experience working in welding or soldering would be really useful for this career.

Qualifications

To get onto an Intermediate or Advanced Level Apprenticeship you’ll usually need five GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, possibly including English and maths.

Relevant vocational qualifications include:

  • BTEC level 3 qualification in building services engineering
  • City & Guilds level 2 and 3 diplomas in plumbing and heating
  • City & Guilds level 2 and 3 diplomas in plumbing craft
  • City & Guilds level 1, 2 and 3 qualification in welding skills

To enter a City & Guilds or BTEC level 2 course, you'll usually need at least 4 GCSEs at grades D-G (3-1).

To enter a City & Guilds or BTEC level 3 course, you'll usually need at least 4 GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4).

However, individual centres may have different entry requirements. You may be able to get on to one of the courses without any qualifications.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.

Skills/experience

Relevant skills, for example, in welding or soldering, are useful.

Courses

Many people go into this career via a Plumbing and Heating Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Further Information

Apprenticeships: Get In. Go Far

National Apprenticeship Service (NAS)

Tel: 0800 015 0400

Email: nationalhelpdesk@findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk

Website: www.apprenticeships.org.uk

CITB-ConstructionSkills

Skills for the construction industry

Address: Bircham Newton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH

Website: www.cskills.org

CITB NI

Northern Ireland Enquiries

Address: Nutts Corner Training Centre, 17 Dundrod Road, Crumlin, County Antrim BT29 4SR

Tel: 028 9082 5466

Email: info@citbcsni.org.uk

Website: www.citbcsni.org.uk

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

Address: Bircham Newton, Kings Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH

Tel: 0844 5768777

Website: www.cscs.uk.com

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Address: Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley, Hertfordshire WD4 8JP

Tel: 01923 260000

Email: ecitb@ecitb.org.uk

Website: careers.ecitb.org.uk

SummitSkills

Skills for building services engineering sector

Address: Vega House, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes MK15 0DF

Tel: 01908 303960

Email: enquiries@summitskills.org.uk

Website: www.summitskills.org.uk

Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844

Website: ams.careerswales.com/

Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith

Cymraeg

Welcome to Careers Wales

Please select your language

English