Pipe Welder Job Description
Pipe welders assemble, maintain, and install structural units and piping systems. Manufacturing and fabrication industries of all types hire pipe welders, who work in both indoor and outdoor construction environments. This physically demanding position requires that pipe welders be fit and adept at using specialized tools regardless of weather conditions. More than just a labor job, pipe welders employ critical thinking skills to solve complex, on-site problems as well as to interpret blueprints.
Professionals in this full-time role work during all shifts and commonly work overtime hours. Pipe welders frequently travel to job sites to perform their duties and report to construction foremen and other supervisors.
Pipe Welder Duties and Responsibilities
In all types of work environments, pipe welders are required to perform specific tasks for any industry that employs them:
Construct and Repair Piping Systems
A traditional aspect of this position is maintaining piping systems, so pipe welders install and build pipe hangers, valves, and supports.
Follow Safety Regulations
Pipe welders must be aware of and adhere to all safety regulations. This includes wearing the proper protective clothing and following OSHA guidelines.
Perform Pre-Welding Preparations
Prior to assembly, pipe welders clamp and cut piping and apply primers to metallic surfaces.
Examine Finished Welds
Pipe welders examine finished work to ensure that it is smooth, free of defects, and high-functioning.
Repair Holes and Damage
In addition to installing structures, pipe welders fill holes, seams, and indentations in metal to keep it structurally sound.
They also inspect and repair all the equipment and tools they use while performing their job.
Operate Machinery and Equipment
Pipe welders operate heavy machinery and construction equipment, such as forklifts, cranes, and manlifts.
Pipe Welder Skills and Qualifications
Pipe welders are detail-oriented laborers who work with their hands to construct and maintain piping systems of all sorts. Employers seek out potential hires who have prior experience in pipe welding and construction in addition to exhibiting the following skills:
- Troubleshooting – Pipe welders examine piping systems and welding equipment for potential problems, which requires good troubleshooting skills
- Physical Strength – Because they work in a variety of environments and must perform their jobs from many positions, people in this career have the strength to lift and carry heavy equipment and the ability to work while laying down, crouching, or elevated
- Critical Thinking – Pipe welders know how to interpret blueprints, schematics, and detailed drawings to accurately assemble complex structures
- Time Management – Pipe welders work in construction environments and on projects with very strict timetables, so these professionals must have good time management skills to complete tasks quickly and without error
- Communication – As pipe welders talk frequently with other construction workers and supervisors in high risk job sites, they employ strong verbal communication skills to ensure accuracy and safety
- Mathematical Skills – This position entails adjusting the length of metal as needed, so pipe welders use math skills to calculate dimensions and trim piping with precision
Tools of the Trade
In addition to standard safety and welding clothing, pipe welders use these on-site tools:
- Welding Tools – (cleaning brush, chipping hammer, torch)
- Construction Tools – (tape measure, levels)
- Metalworking Tools – (grinders, buffers)
Pipe Welder Education and Training
Pipe welders need to have a high school diploma or GED, and employers hire those who have former pipe welding experience and/or welding training. Some companies may require pipe welders to have a Certified Welder certification. This is a program administered by the American Welding Society, which has testing locations all over the country and the world. The exam tests applicant aptitude in welding structural steel, sheet metal, and pipelines.
Additionally, companies may require applicants to have an OSHA-10 certification. This is a 10-hour course administered through OSHA that provides training in basic labor safety protocols. Some employers will also administer their own welding test to determine a potential employee’s welding proficiency.
Pipe Welder Salary and Outlook
Based on national data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that pipe welders, categorized as “Welders, Cutters, Solderers, and Brazers” earned $39,390 in 2016 as a median salary, or $18.94 per hour. Comparatively, PayScale data shows that pipe welders earn a median hourly pay wage of $23.23. Professionals in this trade traditionally receive a complete insurance benefits package that includes health, retirement, dental, vision, and life. Companies also provide overtime pay for employees who exceed 40 hours in a single work week and sometimes offer regular yearly bonuses.
In 2016, the BLS states that there were more than 400,000 jobs available for professional welders, cutters, solderers, and brazers. This number is expected to increase by 6 percent through the year 2026, which reflects the current job growth average in the US.
Discover career opportunities, educational resources, and professional pipe welding tips with these resources:
National Certified Pipe Welding Bureau (NCPWB) – This website contains safety training guides and videos, news, and technical guides of all types for pipe welders.
The Pipe Fitter’s and Pipe Welder’s Handbook, Revised Edition – Professional pipe welders use this book by Thomas W. Frankland as a reference tool for problem-solving, making complex calculations, and managing difficult pipe welding tasks.
American Welding Society (AWS) – Learn where to find advanced training courses, conferences, and other professional pipe welding opportunities through the AWS website.
The Ultimate Reference & Table Charts for Pipe & Steel for Pipefitters & Welders – Many of the charts and important data tables used by pipe welders are contained in this book, which includes information about the properties of specific metals such as steel, alloy, and reinforcing rebar.
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