Plumbing and pipefitting are regarded as separate trades, but some individuals have skills in both fields. These trained workers assemble, install, maintain and repair pipe systems utilized to transport water, air and other types of liquids and gases. They install plumbing fixtures such as toilets and bathtubs. They also install refrigeration and heating units. Their work can be complex and challenging, and it is carefully regulated. Plumbers and pipefitters train for years to perform the work properly.

Day in the Life of a Plumber or Pipefitter

On a typical day, a plumber might perform tasks at these work settings:

New construction sites

  • Work with architects and contractors to make a blueprint of the plumbing system so that it meets all applicable building codes
  • While installing piping in a new home or building, a plumber reads and follows blueprints that show the intended location of appliances and plumbing fixtures
  • Bend and cut pipe and affix components through fittings, soldering or adhesive
  • Use testing equipment such as pressure gauges to ensure proper functioning of the system

Existing plumbing sites

  • Diagnose the source of a plumbing problem using knowledge and special tools or gauges
  • Make the necessary repairs, including replacing pipes and parts as needed
  • Use testing equipment to ensure proper functioning after repairs have been made

On a typical day, a pipefitter might perform any of these tasks:

  • Inspect equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of any errors, defects or other problems
  • Cut, thread or hammer pipes to specifications using tools such as saws, cutting torches, pipe threaders or pipe benders
  • Lay out full-scale drawings of pipe systems, supports or related equipment according to blueprints
  • Assemble or secure pipes, tubes, fittings or related equipment according to specifications by welding, brazing, cementing, soldering or threading joints
  • Measure and mark pipes for cutting or threading
  • Inspect, examine or test installed systems or pipe lines using a pressure gauge, hydrostatic testing, observation or other methods

Important Characteristics for Plumbers and Pipefitters

Successful plumbers and pipefitters have certain traits that help them in their work. They need physical strength and flexibility, as well as fine motor dexterity, to do their job. Having mechanical ability and being math-minded gives them an advantage. Also helpful are critical-thinking skills, good communication skills (both listening and speaking), complex problem-solving skills, sound judgment and decision-making ability as well as good time management.

Education Requirements

Most plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters meet plumbing education requirements through jointly administered apprenticeships or from community colleges and plumbing and pipefitting schools. Plumbing career training programs incorporate education in core technical subjects such as mathematics, applied physics and chemistry or architectural drafting. In addition, training in plumbing programs covers the components, tools and materials you will need to learn about in order to become a plumber and pursue plumbing certification.

Apprenticeship programs usually provide the most thorough training for these occupations. Most of these programs are managed jointly by union locals and their affiliated companies or by nonunion contractor organizations.

For example, the Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada, and the United Association of Journeymen sponsor plumber and pipefitting programs. These five-year apprenticeships take place around the country and combine field work with classroom instruction. Apprentices are employed by a contractor, allowing them to earn wages while in training. At a certain point in the program, apprentices choose a specific curriculum to pursue with the aim of becoming a plumber, pipefitter, or other service technician in the industry. Contact your local union to find out about apprenticeship programs in your area that meet plumbing education requirements.

Plumbing certification is required in most states and communities. Most localities require workers to have two to five years of experience along with passing an examination that tests their knowledge of local plumbing codes and their knowledge of the trade before they're allowed to work independently. In a few states, pipefitters need to be licensed. Several states require a special license to work on gas lines.

The Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association in partnership with the GreenPlumbers USA train and certify plumbers nationwide on energy efficiency and water-saving technologies. This certification can help workers trained in this area to acquire more jobs and advance in their careers more quickly.


  • Summary Report for Plumbers, O*NET OnLine,
  • Summary Report for Pipefitters and Steamfitters, O*NET OnLine,

Plumbers and Pipefitters Skills

Below are the skills needed to be plumbers and pipefitters according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Skill NameImportanceCompetence
Critical Thinking3.623.62
Active Listening3.253.12
Judgment and Decision Making3.253
Complex Problem Solving3.123.12
Operation Monitoring3.123.12

Plumbers and Pipefitters Abilities

Below are the abilities needed to be plumbers and pipefitters according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Ability NameImportanceCompetence
Problem Sensitivity3.883.5
Near Vision3.753.5
Deductive Reasoning3.623.25
Extent Flexibility3.624.25
Finger Dexterity3.623.38

Plumbers and Pipefitters Knowledge

Below are the knowledge areas needed to be plumbers and pipefitters according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 7 being highest).

Knowledge AreaImportanceCompetence
Building and Construction4.084.88
Customer and Personal Service3.364.22

Plumbers and Pipefitters Work activities

Below are the work activities involved in being plumbers and pipefitters according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest) and competency level on a scale of 1 to 7 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work ActivityImportanceCompetence
Getting Information4.112.69
Performing General Physical Activities3.995.02
Making Decisions and Solving Problems3.953.47
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events3.943.17
Handling and Moving Objects3.835.32

Plumbers and Pipefitters Work styles

Below are the work styles involved in being plumbers and pipefitters according to their importance on the scale of 1 to 5 (1 being lowest and 5 being highest).

Work StyleImportance
Attention to Detail4.15

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for
Plumbers and Pipefitters

Listed below are the 10 largest metro areas based on the total number of people employed in Plumbers and Pipefitters jobs , as of 2019

Metro AreaTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Salary
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim15,550 $56,650
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land11,720 $54,980
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington10,740 $51,100
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward8,010 $87,230
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach7,310 $45,750
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale7,310 $51,400
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell6,250 $51,850
San Diego-Carlsbad5,370 $59,180
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood5,270 $59,410
Detroit-Warren-Dearborn5,260 $68,600

Compare Total Employment & Salaries for Plumbers And Pipefitters

Use our handy tool to see what employment and salary numbers look like for two different metro areas

Select State
Select Metro Area 1
Select Metro Area 2
Please select State, Metro Area 1 and Metro Area 2
Select different Metro Areas

Total employment and salary for professions similar to plumbers and pipefitters

Source : 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics,; O*NET® 24.3 Database, O*NET OnLine, National Center for O*NET Development, Employment & Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,

Click the Visit School Site buttons to go directly to a school's website and learn more about the school and programs it has to offer. School website will open in a new tab.
Click the Request Info buttons to request more information from a representative at the school.

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Plumbers and Pipefitters.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.