What Is The Difference Between A Pipefitter And A Plumber?

Pipefitting and plumbing are two separate specialties. The plumbers are trained to work with common piping materials like galvanized steel, PVC piping, and copper. Pipefitter, on the other hand, are trained to handle more specialized piping that is constructed to endure high pressure, such as stainless steel or High-carbon steel. 

Since both involve working with pipes, many people think that these two professions are the same. But the way plumbers and pipefitters measure and fix pipes are different. For more understanding, here is a rundown of the differences between a pipefitter and a plumber. 

Difference Between A Pipefitter And A Plumber

Differences Based On Tools Pipefitters And Plumbers Use

Plumbers usually use basin wrench, toilet auger, tube cutter, flashlight, and a pipe wrench. Pipefitters, on the other hand, uses tools such as welder, saw, cutting torch, pressure gauge, and fitter grip. 

Differences Based On What Pipefitters And Plumbers Do 

Both plumber and pipefitter work are to install, repair, assemble, and maintain piping structures. However, their job descriptions differ following various systems they involve themselves on. 

Pipefitters Vs. Plumbers: Based on what they do

1. Connect, fabricate, repair, collect, overhaul, and maintain a system that conveys chemicals, acids, and gases
2. Aid in servicing heating systems and commercial cooling 

3. Work on specialized pipe materials such as stainless steel, Inconel, PVC, copper, and galvanized steel. 
4. Connect piping to pumps, fitted compressors, meters, hydraulic and pneumatic controls
5. Censor, weld, and reform pipe sections and components
6. Overhaul and maintain water and commercial waste disposal systems
7. Help in delivery and fuel systems 
8. Ensure safety requirements are attained
1. Connect, repair, collect and maintain systems such as sewage lines, hot-water heaters, and water filtration
2. Unblock pipes and drains Fit new appliances, such as refrigerators and water heaters
3. Examine and solve problems related to plumbing systems 

4. Connect or fix laundry machines

5. Substitute or connect water fixtures 
6. With both local and state building codes

Differences Based On Where Pipefitters And Plumbers Work 

Pipefitters mainly work in industries, such as factories or shipyards, to install robust piping systems. Plumbers, on the other hand, work in both local and commercial places like homes and business institutions. Take a look in detail. 

Pipefitters Vs. Plumbers: Based on where they work

Pipefitters work on:
1. Commercial business institutes 
2. Manufacturing industries
3. Petrochemical plants 
4. Nuclear/ conventional power stations 
5. Merchant/ Navy marines 
Plumbers work on:
1. Construction companies 

2. Private companies/home building 

3. Self-employed 

4. Newly built homes for installation of toilets, urinals, and backflow preventers

Differences Based On The Salary Pipefitters And Plumbers Earn

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pipefitters earn an average salary of $54 per year. In places like New York and California, they make up to $80k per year.  Those pipefitters who opt to work more than eight hours a week can earn a salary of up to $100k or 140k per year. 

On the other hand, professional plumbers are estimated to earn up to 50k per year while beginners earn up to 30k dollars.  This indicates that pipefitters make a bit more money than plumbers.  Keep in mind that salaries are subject to change since both professions are in high demand.

Differences Based On The Kinds Of Materials Pipefitters And Plumbers Work On

Pipefitters usually work on systems that convey high-pressure substances. Those particular systems are constructed of metal and their alloys, such as copper-nickel, chrome-moly, stainless steel, high-carbon, and duplex stainless. It’s done so to endure maximum pressure. They as well connect different parts by tack-welding. This means that pipefitters are great welders who fabricate parts like elbows, tees, flange, and tack-weld pipes together. 

Moreover, hazardous substances are used together with this metal allows. So, pipefitters must have a high degree of knowledge and skills to handle the metal alloys and connect them with a high-pressure system.

Plumbers, on the other hand, handle low-pressure systems like tap water and sewage applications. They, therefore, have to work with simple materials such as copper, PVC and galvanized pipe. Their key responsibility is to join pipes with glue, threads, and solder. As well, they fit toilets, sinks, faucets, etc. 

Differences Based On Skills Pipefitters And Plumbers Need

A fruitful pipefitter or a plumber requires both mechanical and troubleshooting knowledge and skills on their job. Also, they need full physical strength to get their work well done. But because these professions have separate specialties, special skills are required for each profession, given that they work on different types of piping systems. 

Pipefitters Vs. Plumbers: Based On Skills Needed

Pipefitters should possess the following skills:
1. Welding skills to help them handle both large and small pipes

2. Pipe meandering and fabrication skills for threading and grinding pipes.

3. This is needed when substituting parts of the piping systems.
4. Connection and propping skills for fitting pipe above and beneath the ground.
5. While working with big pipes, hydraulic and trench propping skills will be needed 
Plumbers should possess the following skills:
1. Deftness skills for the correct handling of hands while working on overcrowded and subtle parts and spaces
2. Usual service for working on business buildings and setting-up a long-lasting partnership with clients

3. Communication skills to aid you to supervise other workers, plan work-schedules and bid job projects

The knowledge and skills required by a pipefitter are much broader than those of a plumber. This is because plumbers merely work with simple tools and materials, such as PVC and copper. Also, they have to set out a plan and join pipes with glue and solder. Furthermore, they work on simple errands like fixing taps, sinks, toilets, and faucets. 

Pipefitter, on the other side, is trained to operate with particular types of alloys and metals that bring high-pressure fluids. Plus, they are trained on how to deal with dangerous alloys like stainless steel and high-carbon. So, the skills required by a pipefitter are far much more than only joining different types of pipes.

Are pipefitting and plumbing dangerous?

If you are a plumber or pipefitter, then the possibility of physical harm is alarmingly more comprehensive. Plumbers can come across several dangers such as deep cuts, severe burn, loud noises, neck pain, back pain, among others. On the other hand, pipefitters come across dangerous metal alloys like stainless steel and high-carbon. So, these professions, to some extent, are hazardous. However, with proper care, it’s easy to overcome challenges linked to these professions. 

What exactly does a pipefitter do?

A pipefitter work is to install, collect, fabricates, maintains, and overhaul mechanical piping systems. Like plumbers, pipefitters begin as apprentices—other piping systems, such as ventilation, hydraulics, steam, chemicals, fuels, and oil, are available as well. 

Do Plumbers Do Welding?

It is not that necessary for plumbers to know how to qualify for their work. However, there is some job scope within plumbing that needs welding.  Pipefitters handle most welded piping. But as a plumber, you can teach yourself how to do welding. This is because when you have both skills, you will make some good money.

What Skills Do You Require To Be A Pipefitter?

As a pipefitter, you are required to have the following essential skills:

1. Knowledge of cutting and welding 

2. Capability to comprehend blueprints  

3. Have experience with tools and equipment used on the pipefitting 

Even if you have mentioned the above skills, you must complete an apprenticeship program to become a pipefitter. Failure to that, you will not be a pipefitter. 

Are Plumbers Happy? 

According to a survey conducted by Boundless, plumbers are happiest professionals worldwide. Based on the study, 55% of plumbers admit they were pleased with their profession. You made, therefore, the correct choice when you decided to become a plumber! 

Is A Pipefitter An Excellent Job? 

Yap, with a high-demand for pipefitters worldwide, especially in gas and oil businesses, there are high chances for overtime work. Pipefitters do not only get well-payed but also get health insurance. 

Let’s take a look at the reasons why you should consider a pipefitting profession:

1. The pipefitting arena is growing- in 2022, pipefitting and plumbing are deemed to increase by 21%. This is faster when compared to the average growth rate of other sectors. At present, we lack enough pipefitter to accommodate growth. This is excellent news for those planning to pursue a pipefitting career. 

2. It is a steady career- Due to the projected faster growth rate in this field, work is abundant for a pipefitter; they can opt to work in various fields from local to commercial to industrial. 

3. You can begin earning money quickly- with this profession; you can opt to attend a technical training program instead of attending a 4-year college. In doing so, you will gain field experience faster, and you can begin to work. This means you can start earning money quickly.

4. The position pays well- as an apprentice, you can start earning money while still undergoing training. The average apprentice is estimated to make $34,850 per year, while the average qualified pipefitter makes around $75,200 per year. The one who has completed a 4-years college course in this field is deemed to earn even more. 


As you have seen, pipefitters and plumbers interact with different materials and environments. Pipefitters mostly work with more hazardous materials, but lucky enough, they get compensated more than plumbers. Both professions are deemed to further grow in the future. So, you can feel free to pursue any of these professions.   

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