Steamfitter Job Description

Steamfitters perform maintenance and installations on boiler, ventilation, heating, and air conditioning systems of all types that contain piping. Contractors, property management companies, private businesses, and federal and local governments hire steamfitters to work full- and part-time shifts during all hours, including weekends and holidays, as well as on-call emergency hours. Steamfitters often work independently with little supervision but ultimately do report to foremen and other managers. Travel is required for this job, as steamfitters go to onsite locations to install and service piping systems of all types.

 

Steamfitter Duties and Responsibilities 

Job tasks for steamfitters vary based on the hiring company or government providing employment and the types of piping systems being serviced and installed, which may include residential, industrial, and commercial systems both big and small. However, these core duties for steamfitters are essentially the same:

Install and Maintain Piping Systems

Steamfitters install and maintain piping systems, supports, and related materials.

Operate Equipment

Steamfitters test and operate hydraulic and pneumatic equipment for heating and cooling systems, as well as other mechanical systems that use piping.

Service Pumps

Steamfitters install, replace, and repair pumps that are connected to piping systems.

Make Repairs

Steamfitters repair leaks on piping systems and repair and replace thermostats and valves.

Prepare Pipes

Steamfitters cut and thread pipes to make installations and repairs to systems.

Follow Safety Protocols

Steamfitters follow all safety procedures and standards to maintain a safe work environment. This includes wearing proper safety equipment.

Interpret Plans

Steamfitters read and interpret blueprints, schematics, and drawings for new and existing piping systems.

Inspect Systems

Steamfitters inspect piping systems to troubleshoot problems and determine the repairs needed.

Perform Upgrades

Steamfitters make upgrades to existing piping systems by replacing sections of pipes, valves, and other components.

 

Steamfitter Skills and Qualifications 

Steamfitters are detail-oriented professionals with a high degree of mechanical aptitude who use their analytical skills to make repairs to complicated piping systems of all sorts. Employers only hire steamfitters who display the following essential skills:

  • Math skills – steamfitters use strong math skills to take accurate measurements and correctly match fittings and pipes to each other
  • Problem-solving skills – steamfitters troubleshoot systems and use problem-solving skills to determine the repairs needed and find weakened or broken areas of piping
  • Attention to detail – steamfitters need sharp attention to detail and strong analytical skills to find and repair problems, read blueprints, and design precise installation plans for piping systems
  • Physical stamina – steamfitters work with their hands to install and repair piping systems by crawling, squatting, stooping, stretching, and lifting heavy materials and equipment, which requires physical strength and ability
  • Communication skills – steamfitters use verbal and written communication skills to report to supervisors and relay information about piping systems to customers

 

Tools of the Trade

Steamfitters regularly work with these tools:

  • Measuring tools (tape measures, rulers, squares)
  • Cutting tools (saws, cutting guides)
  • Hand tools (clamps, pliers)
  • Welding tools (torches, welding gauges)

 

Steamfitter Education and Training

Most employers require steamfitters to have a high school diploma or equivalent and be at least 18 years of age, though some employers accept candidates as young as 16. Many employers require steamfitters to complete an apprenticeship program before they can be hired for this position. Some employers, however, will hire new steamfitters in order to train them as apprentices through paid hands-on work experience. Apprenticeship programs vary by state and by company, and may last for several years.

 

Steamfitter Salary and Outlook 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters earn $51,450 annually and $24.74 hourly. These professionals occupied over 450,000 jobs in 2016, a number that is estimated to grow 16 percent through 2026. This is much faster than the average U.S. job growth rate.

Full-time steamfitters receive complete benefits packages from employers that include health, dental, and vision insurance coverage. Steamfitters also typically receive workers’ compensation benefits, as well as paid vacation and sick days. Some employers offer additional benefits, such as wellness programs and continuing education reimbursement.

 

Helpful Resources 

Use these books and websites to find career opportunities and education resources for steamfitters, and to learn the skills and strategies needed for success in this career field:

Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters Career – author Anne Johnson presents straightforward strategies and tips for finding work, landing the job, and getting promoted

United Association – this association of plumbers, fitters, welders, and service techs provides news updates and industry events information, training and recruitment programs, and other professional resources for career advancement

Instruction Manual for Steamfitter-Pipefitter Journeymen & Apprentices – this comprehensive instruction manual covers all the basics that steamfitters need to know to perform their regular job duties, with detailed information and helpful guidelines

The Steamfitters Industry Fund Office – dedicated solely to steamfitters, this website offers industry news updates and information, helpful forms, and member benefits for steamfitters at all stages of their career

Use and Care of Tools for Steamfitter-Pipefitter Journeymen and Apprentices – learn how to properly care for and maintain commonly used pipe-servicing and installation tools with this helpful guidebook written for all steamfitters and similar professionals

 

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