Welders and pipefitters are often grouped into the same career category, but they are two distinct careers with some overlapping skills and many more disparate ones. They often work in the same industry, and even on the same projects. However, they perform unique roles and within projects, and individuals considering careers in the skilled trades may feel more drawn to one trade or the other. It is important to look at each career profile thoroughly before considering either a pipefitting or welding program.
While it is the primary job of welders to create strong connections, it may also be necessary for pipefitters, too. It is important in both careers to recognize when a joint has been made correctly and will be strong enough to hold together. Both welders and pipefitters need to know how to cut and grind metals as well.
Welders tend to have a more generalized skillset. While they can work to weld pipes, they are also able to work on a number of other projects that involve connecting two pieces of metal, such as in construction, shipbuilding, machine or automotive repair, and more. Welders also have to master a number of different welding techniques to ensure they will be able to connect the metals they’re working in properly.
Pipefitters may primarily use a few type of welding skills, but not necessarily need to know how to perform all the welds that welders do. In some jobs, they may just be required to focus solely on laying and threading pipe, and welders will work after them to connect the different components of the pipe. Pipefitters also generally need to know more about structural engineering in order to make sound pipe systems as well as be able to create threads to fit pipes together. Pipefitters must also know the mechanics and demands of high-pressure pipe-and-valve systems that may carry steam, chemicals, and food processing ingredients.
Welding can be used in a broad range of applications. Welders work in manufacturing, construction, industrial maintenance, and shipbuilding. Welders may work on projects developing architectural structures, mining and construction equipment, civil engineering projects (bridges, dams, utility plants), girders, outdoor facility repairs (oil rigs), and ship building and repair.
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Pipefitters most often work in the manufacturing, oil, and electric industries. They are also employed by local governments for pipe repairs around their cities.
If you are on the fence about training to become a welder or a pipefitter, contact a Tulsa Welding School Admissions Representative to discuss outcomes for the welding and pipefitting training programs.