Steamfitter-Pipefitters install, build, repair and maintain piping systems that carry nearly all fluids that are capable of being transported through piping. They specialize in designing, planning, and the installation of high and low pressure steam systems, as well as the specific procedures and installation processes involved. They may work on systems including, and as varied as, heating and cooking systems used for processing and manufacturing, installation of piping for nuclear reactors, offshore platforms, crude oil cracking processes, and many other steam powered processes.

Steamfitter-Pipefitters use a wide range of hand and power tools, torches and welding equipment, and specialty tools to build piping systems to precise specifications. They may work on systems constructed of stainless steel, chrome-moly, nickel, monel and Inconel to name a few, all of which require special joining techniques that are unique to the trade. The systems themselves that Steamfitter-Pipefitters work on are the highest pressure and temperature applications found in industry today. They are often required to work in cramped areas and at considerable heights, and the work can be physically demanding. There is a considerable amount of lifting and carrying of the piping materials involved with larger loads moved using all forms of rigging equipment and cranes.

An interest in construction, strong math skills and a sound knowledge of scientific principles are an asset for Steamfitter-Pipefitters. You should enjoy working with your hands, performing a variety of tasks and be proficient in using an extensive range of tools. You must be able to understand and follow detailed engineering and architectural plans, blueprints, specifications, and be able to visualize concepts and entire piping systems based on this understanding. Steamfitters-Pipefitters should be analytical, disciplined, responsible and able to concentrate getting the job completed on time and on budget. This equates to possessing strong numeracy and thinking skills.

As in most jobs, interpersonal communication skills are invaluable while using all of the essential skills, as you will be frequently dealing with co-workers, other trades groups, and supervisory staff and plant operators, as well as mentoring Apprentices during your work day. Although you will work alone and without direct supervision when completing your tasks once they are clearly defined.

The main industry of employment for the Steamfitter-Pipefitter is construction but there is also demand in commercial and maintenance at large plants and factories which is becoming more prevalent with the oil industry. Steamfitter-Pipefitter may also be employed by pipeline construction contractors and sub-contractors, thermal or steam generating plants, manufacturers, utility companies, oil refineries, gas plants, pulp mills, and chemical plants.

Work as a Steamfitter-Pipefitter can take you to work across Canada depending on where new piping installations are being constructed. This can mean long periods of time away from home, because of the duration of large projects that can take several years to build, and sometimes their remote site locations. The monetary benefits are usually very good with travel arrangements made by contractors and site owners.

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For more information, contact:

  • Your local apprenticeship branch, community college, trade school or your local union office.


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