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Figured I'd ask the experts

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  • Figured I'd ask the experts

    I'm 17 years old and currently working for a company called Special Events. It's your average manual labor job.

    I'm also earning my GED and am looking to get into an apprenticeship program after I graduate and turn 18.

    I've narrowed my choices for a profession down to 3: Plumber, Pipefitter, and Electrician

    My question is, what is the difference between a pipefitter and a plumber? I know both work with piping systems, but their classified as different careers.

    Any information would be much appreciated.

  • #2
    Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

    not sure if this will be right, but a pipefitter, i think is also refered to as a steam fitter, witch mostly works on boilers and pipes(up to 48" in dia) desinged to handle steam, this can be very dangerous and very unforgiving work.

    a plumber in a the most basic of terms does suppy and waste water, and water fixtures.

    in virginia there are both there available but i would go the plumer route as there will be much more work available to you. steam fitters don't make that much more to make it worth it to me.
    9/11/01, never forget.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

      Originally posted by Jets713 View Post
      I'm 17 years old and currently working for a company called Special Events. It's your average manual labor job.

      I'm also earning my GED and am looking to get into an apprenticeship program after I graduate and turn 18.

      I've narrowed my choices for a profession down to 3: Plumber, Pipefitter, and Electrician

      My question is, what is the difference between a pipefitter and a plumber? I know both work with piping systems, but their classified as different careers.

      Any information would be much appreciated.
      First just to make sure, you don't work for "CSC Special Events" do you?

      Pipe fitters generally install large piping systems for a variety of reasons and often for Industrial purposes. A Plumber installs plumbing systems including water, drains and fixtures. There is always some blurring of trades both directions. So if you are interested in building homes you would want to be a plumber. If you want to build a steam plant you want to be a pipe fitter.

      Mark
      "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

      I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

        Originally posted by Jets713 View Post
        I'm 17 years old and currently working for a company called Special Events. It's your average manual labor job.

        I'm also earning my GED and am looking to get into an apprenticeship program after I graduate and turn 18.

        I've narrowed my choices for a profession down to 3: Plumber, Pipefitter, and Electrician

        My question is, what is the difference between a pipefitter and a plumber? I know both work with piping systems, but their classified as different careers.

        Any information would be much appreciated.

        I'm probably going to start a war with this statement, but somebody else is using my computer and this really isn't me typing.


        Plumbers are not pipefitters and pipefitters are not plumbers.


        Two separate fields of expertise, one is no better/higher skilled than the other.

        Pipefitters/Steamfitters/Sprinklerfitters deal with the Durham system of piping, brazing/welding and nut and bolt assemblies of piping which convey gases, steam/ liquids relating to combustible or chemicals that are determined hazardous.

        I have much respect for them in their work, their work is considerably much more physically demanding. We got it easy compared to them. Being in the service side of that profession must be job security all the way. I couldn't handle working on a 4" plantmaster stretching down 3 stories that just blew, all inside a boxed opening surrounded by stairs. Pipes everywhere and no end in site for the difficulty factor.

        Go into a hospital and pop up a ceiling panel and that's what your work detail is a mere sample of.


        Plumbers can hit a mix or selectively take on one side of the field. I personally tout myself as a residential plumber only, I understand that I'm operating in the most simplistic side of plumbing their is. Getting into commercial/industrial is where the stripes on the shoulder show their knowledge. Some excel in commercial but lag in residential and vice-versa.

        Time will tell where you will fit the bill. Having a trade under your belt in this day and age is good IMO. Being a plumber or electrician will have you with abilities to go out and do a side job or make extra cash outside your regular work schedule. It just simply exists.

        I only know of a handful of guys that do commercial on the side and that's a stretch at that. An understanding boss for one, having the credentials and legal requirements is a must have when something goes wrong in that scale.

        Electricians it seems use their hands alot; anytime I've done some electrical work, my hands get a workout pulling wires or wire nutting up connections but I will say that electrical work is a very satisfying line of work. But I'm chicken, I wouldn't want to be a service electrician; it 2 hawd.

        Pick one of the 3 up, educate your mind and stick with it, that's the key. The old timers will knock at you and your pride trying to see if you sink or swim, take in stride that 20 years from now you'll have the learning curve behind ya.
        Northern Kentucky Plumbers Twitter Feed | Plumbing Videos

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        • #5
          Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

          i don't recall fitters working on waste pipes.

          fitters typically work on large scale jobs/ industrial and commercial. so do plumbers. fitters typically don't do residential work.

          and they don't do drain cleaning.

          if you want to make some cash on the side be a plumber

          rick.
          phoebe it is

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

            Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
            i don't recall fitters working on waste pipes.
            I know this doesn't apply to 98% of the pipefitters out there, but the Navy uses pipefitter for ship waste systems called CHT lines.
            Buy cheap, buy twice.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

              A licensed plumber can install pipefitting work but a licensed pipefitter can not do plumbing work.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                As has been said, plumbing and pipefitting overlap in many areas; materials, joining methods, knowledge required to install systems, etc.

                When I went through my apprenticeship, the first two years of schooling were the same, after that you had to decide which way you wanted to go, plumbing or pipefitting. I choose pipefitting but continued to work on a number of plumbing jobs. I've done everything from snaking drains and cleaning grease traps to crawling through the innards of nuclear reactors and climbing to the top of 200' distillate towers in refineries. Hauling crates of no-hub fittings up flights of stairs as an apprentice to working on rigging 380 ton pressure vessels. From installing a simple gauge to calibrating all kinds of pneumatic and electronic instrumentation in power houses. Of all the different areas I worked in I liked Instrumentation the most, so I spent my last 12 years as an I&C tech working in industrial and nuclear facilities mostly.

                If I had it to do over which would I choose? Don't know for sure. There are many advantages to working on the plumbing side, especially if you have your own business. There are also some very satisfying jobs I have worked as a Fitter that a Plumber would never get to do and no doubt the same can be said the other way around.

                If I was to go way back I might have wished I'd found a way to stay in college and get my architecture degree, but I let that $100,000 bill for the 6 years scare me off. Now, I have left the trade for the most part after spending the last 5 years going to school nights for Construction Management and now work the management side of construction on large projects.

                A career as a Electrician can also be a great choice. So many different aspects of the trade to find your niche in, same as plumbing or fitting I guess.

                Any of the fields you have named will provide you with a skill which can support you and your family comfortably for the rest of your life. None of those jobs can be exported. Someone in India or China can't run a snake through your drain or add another outlet in your kitchen or wire up that addition. And when you have that skill in your pocket, you can take it with you. Wherever you want to go in the world you should be able to find work.

                To get an idea just look at the people on this forum. They run the full spectrum from Aaron who is an apprentice just getting started (Aaron we have not heard much from you lately by the way) to Rick who has a successful plumbing business of his own and 1 of every plumbing tool ever made (not that the rest of you guys don't, just had to pick one example), to Mark whose career is now that of an expert witness and troubleshooter so to speak. He's taken his knowledge and expertise of plumbing and moved into uncharted waters with it.

                Oh, don't ever tell a Steamfitter he is the same as a Pipefitter, and neither of those are the same as a Sprinklerfitter. I think all three would tend to disagree with you.

                Best of luck to you in whatever direction you go. And feel free to stop back with a question. If the gang on here can't come up with the answer, it's not out there to be had. You're probably looking at better than 250 years of plumbing experience between the top dozen or so plumbers on here, and I am not one of them.
                ---------------
                Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                ---------------
                “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                ---------
                "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                ---------
                sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                  I'll simplify this for a 17 year old kid.
                  Plumbers will always have work, we can become self employed with relative ease, provided we price right, are smart with money and know the job.
                  Pipefitters work for large industrial/commercial projects, anything from oil refineries, to power plants, to sewage treatment facilities.
                  Pipefitters are very often union, and employed by engineering firms or mechanical contractors. Self employment options for someone starting from the bottom are very slim in the field....you'll always be a company man.
                  Plumbers can do pipe fitting, though there would be a learning curve.
                  Pipe fitters don't have the option of jumping into plumbing without an apprenticeship first.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                    Originally posted by DuckButter View Post
                    I'll simplify this for a 17 year old kid.
                    Plumbers will always have work, we can become self employed with relative ease, provided we price right, are smart with money and know the job.
                    Pipefitters work for large industrial/commercial projects, anything from oil refineries, to power plants, to sewage treatment facilities.
                    Pipefitters are very often union, and employed by engineering firms or mechanical contractors. Self employment options for someone starting from the bottom are very slim in the field....you'll always be a company man.
                    Plumbers can do pipe fitting, though there would be a learning curve.
                    Pipe fitters don't have the option of jumping into plumbing without an apprenticeship first.
                    It's always good to give a simple answer, no use wasting words on someone who is contemplating a career future huh?

                    Just because you work for someone else as opposed to running your own business does not make you a "company man". There are also advantages to being an employee rather than an owner, it takes both sides of the equation for it all to work out. Unless you're a one man shop, you need employees.
                    ---------------
                    Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                    ---------------
                    “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                    ---------
                    "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                    ---------
                    sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                      Thanks for the feedback guys

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                        Originally posted by Bob D. View Post
                        It's always good to give a simple answer, no use wasting words on someone who is contemplating a career future huh?

                        Just because you work for someone else as opposed to running your own business does not make you a "company man". There are also advantages to being an employee rather than an owner, it takes both sides of the equation for it all to work out. Unless you're a one man shop, you need employees.
                        If I were 17, the advice I'd want to hear was what I posted.
                        Being a company man isn't an insult, I used the term loosely to refer to the dependance for work on large companies as a pipefitter.
                        Nothing at all wrong with being a company man, and I did mention the majority of pipefitters are union, which always means great pay and bennies.
                        Thought he might want to know the longterm potential in each.
                        Pipefitters will always make great pay, but there's a roof on how much without a license or degree.
                        I'm not trying to glamorize my trade, but there is almost no limit on where a plumber can go financially if he has the guts, self confidence, knowledge and shrewdness.
                        A pipefitter might break 6 figures with alotta overtime, in fact I know a commercial sprinkler fitter who does..he works 100+ hours a week very often though.
                        Plumbers can expand, open shop and take on help...which can be nothing but headaches till you find good help.
                        I know several plumbers (shop owners) that are millionaires, one whom landed a commercial gig at just the right place & time, another who worked his tail off as a one man show for years and finally got the guts to sign a huge residential contract and take on help.
                        A last notable difference, pipefitters work is often far away, often making it tough to settle down...powerplants, chemical plants and oil refineries don't exactly pop up down the street from where you live.

                        The BEST advice I'd give him is to get his butt in college..went that route with Aaron and it seemed to backfire with "Whats wrong with being a plumber?".

                        Nothing at all wrong with being a plumber, until you're 45-50 and your back, knee's and joints are giving out, then you're considering getting a degree.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                          My local is a combination local. If a fitter doesn't make at least 100 grand, it's a bad year. If a plumber makes 80 grand, it's a great year. I do both and think fitting is easier. The pace is a lot slower. We still have fitters who just fit, and don't weld, like me. Most of the locals want their fitters to be certified welders now.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                            Originally posted by Bogart View Post
                            My local is a combination local. If a fitter doesn't make at least 100 grand, it's a bad year. If a plumber makes 80 grand, it's a great year.
                            My point exactly.
                            Mindful you're talking plumbers that work for shops, shop owners are a different ballgame.
                            Pipefitters do make excellent money, but becoming a business owner is much less likely.
                            There's the supply/demand factor as well, even in a slow economy...people will always need plumbers.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Figured I'd ask the experts

                              Originally posted by DuckButter View Post
                              If I were 17, the advice I'd want to hear was what I posted.
                              Being a company man isn't an insult, I used the term loosely to refer to the dependance for work on large companies as a pipefitter.
                              Nothing at all wrong with being a company man, and I did mention the majority of pipefitters are union, which always means great pay and bennies.
                              Thought he might want to know the longterm potential in each.
                              Pipefitters will always make great pay, but there's a roof on how much without a license or degree.
                              I'm not trying to glamorize my trade, but there is almost no limit on where a plumber can go financially if he has the guts, self confidence, knowledge and shrewdness.
                              A pipefitter might break 6 figures with alotta overtime, in fact I know a commercial sprinkler fitter who does..he works 100+ hours a week very often though.
                              Plumbers can expand, open shop and take on help...which can be nothing but headaches till you find good help.
                              I know several plumbers (shop owners) that are millionaires, one whom landed a commercial gig at just the right place & time, another who worked his tail off as a one man show for years and finally got the guts to sign a huge residential contract and take on help.
                              A last notable difference, pipefitters work is often far away, often making it tough to settle down...powerplants, chemical plants and oil refineries don't exactly pop up down the street from where you live.

                              The BEST advice I'd give him is to get his butt in college..went that route with Aaron and it seemed to backfire with "Whats wrong with being a plumber?".

                              Nothing at all wrong with being a plumber, until you're 45-50 and your back, knee's and joints are giving out, then you're considering getting a degree.
                              Ok, I agree with just about all you said execept for the six figure part. I don't seem to have any trouble reaching that w/o OT.
                              ---------------
                              Light is faster than sound. That's why some people seem really bright until you hear them speak.
                              ---------------
                              “If I had my life to live over again, I'd be a plumber.” - Albert Einstein
                              ---------
                              "Its a table saw.... Do you know where your fingers are?"
                              ---------
                              sigpic http://www.helmetstohardhats.com/

                              Comment

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