With the recent oil and gas boom and an employment gap in manufacturing, there’s no better time like the present to get into a trade. Pipefitters are one of the highest paid of all the trades, with more job openings now than for decades. And yes, pipefitters are plumbers, but they are a very specialized type. A pipefitter installs, maintains and repairs pipes on big jobs, in industrial settings, not residential. Such jobs usually take place in power plants, factories, even oil refineries. While the job is dangerous, it is rewarding at the same time. Here are just 5 good reasons why you should become a pipefitter.
Industry is booming
Recent developments in shale technology mean that America is once again the world’s largest producer of oil an d natural gas. 6 major oil and gas projects are underway on the Texas Gulf Coast alone and this means pipes, and lots of them. It also means lots of jobs for pipefitters.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for the plumbing and pipefitting industry are expected to grow by as much as 21 percent over the next ten years. That is well above the national average. A combination of a boom in manufacturing and an increase in retirees means that the gap is widening between job openings and skilled pipefitters. The time is right to become a pipefitter.
Earn while you learn
Unlike with a traditional college degree where you don’t start earning until after you graduate, becoming a pipefitter means on-the-job training, earning while you learn. As an apprentice you may not be earning the big bucks yet, but still you have to remember this is the education side of the trade. Even so, you’ll make twice the minimum wage and gain valuable experience toward getting your license.
Pipefitters make good money
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average pipefitter earns as much as $49,000 per year. This is at the top of the trades, right up there with plumbers and electricians. But remember, this is just the average. In some places, like New York or California, the average pipefitter can make as much $80,000 per year. And this is all before overtime. An ambitious pipefitter who is willing to work hard and put in the overtime (as much as 80 hours per week) can earn well above the $100,000 mark. There are even some examples of pipefitters making as much as $140,000 per year.
While in the past being a journeyman might have meant gaps between jobs, current demand means that you will most likely have no overlap between jobs. In fact, some companies need pipefitters so bad right that they probably won’t let you go at all. Add to that the possibility of international employment and you should find your career as a pipefitter a steady one.
Most pipefitters join a union. This means not just job security and good pay but excellent benefits as well. If you’re a family man or even if you’re still young and single, it’s hard to put a price on a good healthcare plan. If you try to go out and get health insurance on your own, then you’ll really know how valuable good healthcare benefits are. In that case, go ahead and add as much as $10,000 or $15,000 worth of value to your salary.
These are just 5 great reasons why you should consider becoming a pipefitter.