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Pipe Layer Training and Education Program Information

Pipe layers do exactly what the name implies - install various types of pipe at a construction site. A few apprenticeship programs are available through local unions and non-union contractor organizations. Read on to learn what is taught as well as get information on licensing or certification requirements and employment options.

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Essential Information

A pipe layer apprenticeship program features a mix of on-site training and classroom instruction. Admission to these programs is highly competitive. 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. Many states require that pipe layers be licensed or certified, which usually calls for completing an apprenticeship program and meeting experience requirements.

Education Prerequisites

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.

Program Coursework

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 28% increase in the employment of pipe layers from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This growth is expected to be driven by the continued increase in the construction industry overall. According to the BLS, the median annual salary of pipe layers was $36,280 in May 2013.

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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