what is a pipefitter?

A pipefitter is a tradesperson specialising in assembling, organising and maintaining mechanical piping systems. You work on industrial, high-pressure installations for heating and cooling systems, steam, ventilation, fuel systems and chemical transmission.

Contrary to popular belief, pipefitters are not plumbers. Plumbers work in the water and sanitation industries; pipefitters use metals like stainless steel and carbon steel and work in various industries. In this role, you shape components to exact specifications for industrial use. You put together blueprints and review plans.

As a pipefitter, you select pipes and other materials and equipment needed for a project. You also use your skills to manipulate the shapes and settings of pipes. You install these systems to avoid obstructions or the disruption of building operations. As a pipefitter, you perform tests, fix glitches and leaks and eliminate hazards. Your job is to ensure the pipes provide optimal performance in high-pressure environments. If you discover any issues, you make adjustments to ensure the system runs smoothly. As well as installing new systems, you perform repairs and maintenance tasks on existing systems.

pipefitter jobs

average salary of a pipefitter

A pipefitter earns a median salary of $98,690 per year. The amount you make usually depends on various factors, including experience, academic qualifications and the projects you handle. Entry-level pipefitters handle simple project tasks due to their limited experience. Hence, their earnings start at $89,681 annually. When your experience improves and you become an expert in the field, your remuneration package can go as high as $110,175 per year.

ways to boost your pipefitter salary

Your remuneration package fluctuates based on the company size, experience and competencies. When you work in a small company that handles medium-scale projects, your remuneration package depends on the available resources. Large-scale projects are complex, have more resources and pay higher salaries.

Your expertise also improves as you gain experience and learn new transferrable skills. The competencies and expert knowledge improve your salary prospects.

Want to know what you will earn as a pipefitter? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.

pipefitter salary

types of pipefitters

The types of pipefitters depend on the level of experience and industry specialisation. Some include:

  • master pipefitters: a master pipefitter is a licensed tradesman who typically supervises apprentice and journeymen pipefitters. As a master pipefitter, you work on new construction projects overseeing the whole process. You also maintain and inspect existing systems.
  • general pipefitters: as a general pipefitter, you design, fabricate, install and maintain industrial piping systems. You work on systems to ensure they meet commercial, manufacturing and industrial specifications.
  • steamfitters: as a steamfitter, you specialise in designing and constructing systems that manage the flow of gases and liquids at high pressure. You also test the systems for functionality and perform repairs or routine maintenance tasks.
  • gasfitters: a gasfitter is a technician who uses technical expertise to pipe gas safely. Gas is a volatile element that requires specialised experience. Gasfitters are responsible for the delicate balance between equipment, piping and metres.
  • sprinkler fitters: as a sprinkler fitter, you specialise in piping fire suppression systems. You install, inspect and certify all air, antifreeze, water, chemical and anti-fire foam solutions.
male worker operating a machine
male worker operating a machine

working as a pipefitter

Working as a pipefitter prepares you for an exciting career in various industries. Let's explore pipefitters' specific tasks, career prospects and work environments.


education and skills

To work as a pipefitter in Australia, you need a trade qualification combined with an apprenticeship. Some of the qualifications of a pipefitter include:

  • education: to become a pipefitter, gain qualifications by completing a Certificate III in engineering in mechanical trade at a registered training organisation. You can complete the course as part of an apprenticeship program. You will find various certifications depending on the area of specialisation, like steam fitter and diesel fitter.
  • work experience: working as an apprentice helps you gain practical experience in various trades. As a qualified pipefitter, consider working entry-level jobs in manufacturing, transport, mining or construction to gain additional experience and prepare for better-paying roles.

skills and competencies

Pipefitting requires you to have a variety of skills and competencies. The most successful pipefitters have the following skills:

  • communication: pipefitters constantly share information with colleagues. You do critical work and are responsible for knowing what's happening. Pipefitters also deal with managers, labourers and suppliers. Communication skills help you interact with everyone appropriately.
  • flexibility: pipefitters handle equipment and adjust to situations on the spot. The ability to adapt on the go is a characteristic that benefits any pipefitter.
  • knowledge of mechanics: as a pipefitter, it is important to stay on top of the latest tech in your industry. You need the skills to assemble, repair and manage the materials necessary to implement piping systems. Expect to read blueprints to ensure piping systems are functional and safe. Advanced maths is necessary, as precise measurements are crucial. It is also essential to be familiar with all your industry's toolkits.
  • physical strength and dexterity: pipefitters use tools, materials and equipment that can be heavy. Being in relatively good shape ensures you can lift and carry all these things without any problems.
  • troubleshooting skills: it's important to be confident when you're developing new piping systems. Delicate operations and emergencies often require quick thinking and problem-solving.
  • welding and hvac experience: a good pipefitter understands how to create safe bonds between metals. Some pipefitters put together HVAC infrastructures for large commercial and industrial HVAC units. In these jobs, you set up gas and water supply lines and see that hot water or steam is distributed safely to all units.

FAQs about working as a pipefitter

Here are the most asked questions about working as a pipefitter:

thank you for subscribing to your personalised job alerts.