Pipe Layer Training and Education Program Information
People who enjoy working with machinery and function well within a clearly defined work routine might be good candidates to become pipe layers. Although most pipe layers learn their skills on the job, a limited number of apprenticeship programs are available through local unions and non-union contractor organizations. Admission to these programs is highly competitive.
Pipe Layer Apprenticeship
A pipe layer apprenticeship program features a mix of on-site training and classroom instruction. In the classroom, students examine safety and building regulations. They also learn to read blueprints and put concepts from physics and chemistry into practical application. At job sites, students learn to properly use hand tools, identify grades of pipe, shore up trenches and install pipes and valves. An apprenticeship typically can be completed in 3-5 years.
Aspiring pipe layers need to have a high school diploma or GED, and high school coursework in mathematics and drafting is considered helpful. Some apprenticeship programs may require a year of experience in construction or public works.
Coursework requirements vary by program, but usually include at least 144 hours of classroom time per year. Possible topics covered in the classroom portion of an apprenticeship program include:
- Water distribution systems
- Wastewater collection
- Materials estimations
- Blueprint reading
- Plumbing codes
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Completing an apprenticeship program qualifies graduates to work as journeyperson pipe layers. Plumbing companies, municipal water departments, utility companies and pipeline companies are possible employers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected a 45% increase in the employment of pipe layers from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). This growth is expected to be driven by the continued increase of the construction industry overall. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of pipe layers was $36,180 in May 2012.
Certification and Licensing
Some states or municipalities require pipe layers, usually those who lay gas lines or work for public utilities, to obtain a license or certification. Government certification and licensing requirements vary, but generally include completion of an approved apprenticeship program and experience in the field. Some municipalities also require proof of employment.
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