Career Profile: Steamfitter
All over Canada, people use water, chemicals, and other substances that come through pipes. When these liquids and gases travel in high-pressure pipes, steamfitters help to keep everything running smoothly. This job can be difficult but varied and rewarding. Working as a steamfitter is a good choice for people who are physically fit and able to manage the demands of the job.
Steamfitters have a very important role in keeping heating and water systems working properly. Their work is very much like what plumbers and pipefitters do. Steamfitters install and repair pipes that carry high-pressure liquids or gases, working with welding machines and cutting tools. Some of the work involves studying blueprints and making plans for where to install the pipes. Much of the rest of the work is outdoors, working in all weather conditions.
Strength and endurance are the main requirements for working as a steamfitter. Accuracy is also very important, since some of the material that goes through the pipes can be dangerous to people and the environment. A gas leak, for example, could kill animals and plants or even poison people.
Steamfitters generally work in factories and companies that deal with natural resources like oil and gas. Some steamfitters start their own companies. Usually, the basic educational requirement is a high school diploma. Taking courses in mathematics can help for calculating the amounts of pipe and other factors like the volume of liquid or gas. English courses are also helpful for learning to read complicated instructions.
After high school, most steamfitters complete apprenticeships with employers who train them in all of the different parts of the job. An average apprenticeship normally lasts four or five years. Some provinces also require certification, and it is a good idea to take courses to upgrade welding and technical skills.
Apprenticeships can be a good way to connect with employers. Job prospects are not very good these days, but the skills that steamfitters learn can be useful in other trades. As older workers retire in the next few years, more jobs might become available. Salaries start at about $39,000 per year and can rise to more than $123,000. The job can be physically demanding, and it is a good idea to have another option in case the work becomes too difficult.
Working on the planning part of the job is a good option as people get older. A good knowledge of finances and bookkeeping can be useful for this part of the job, especially for people who run their own businesses. Answering phone calls and working with customers can be part of a steamfitter’s job.
Steamfitter jobs can involve working alone or with other people. Many of the pipes are too large and heavy for one person to carry alone, although machines can help. Workers can often do repairs or install small pipes alone, but many of the jobs involve at least two people. Much of the work of installing pipes happens in the warmer months, but steamfitters should be prepared to work even in the coldest months.
Working as a steamfitter can be a good choice for people who enjoy working outside with their hands. You might want to consider this career.
Government of Alberta. “Steamfitter—Pipefitter.” https://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo/occupations-in-alberta/occupation-profiles/steamfitter-pipefitter/.
Payscale Canada. “Average Plumber, Pipefitter, or Steamfitter Hourly Pay in Canada.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Plumber%2C_Pipefitter%2C_or_Steamfitter/Hourly_Rate.
Sherman, Fraser. “Steamfitter Job Duties.” https://work.chron.com/steamfitter-job-duties-11064.html
Work BC. “Steamfitters, Pipefitters, and Sprinkler System Installers.” https://www.workbc.ca/careers/7252.