Be a Piping Designer: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become a piping designer. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career in piping design.

Should I Become a Piping Designer?

Piping designers draft drawings for the construction of piping systems. They utilize computerized drafting systems, such as computer-aided drafting (CAD). A great deal of their work takes place seated at a computer, although visits to job sites might be required.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Certification Professional Piper Designing Certification
Key Skills Critical-thinking, detail-oriented, interpersonal skills, math skills and technical skills
Salary (2014) Mechanical drafters made a median salary of $52,200

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Obtain a High School Education

A piping system transports various gases and liquids from one place to another. Piping systems are used in buildings to move air throughout the premises and in petroleum distillation, chemical processes and paper pulping among other industrial areas. A piping designer creates the drawings for the operation, construction and layout of the system of pipes.

For those wishing to become a piping designer, it is necessary to learn computer-aided drafting (CAD) at a 2-year postsecondary school. To prepare for entry into one of these schools, high school courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics and, if possible, drafting should be taken. In addition, he or she should know algebra. The student should ideally have a laptop computer (and be visually capable of reading the screen) as well as knowing how to use digitizing equipment.

Step 2: Obtain an Associate's Degree

Most employers prefer applicants who have had training at a 2-year school. Many public community colleges offer a program in CAD. A typical program consists of courses in drafting procedures, materials, manufacturing processes, science and mathematics. The student acquires theoretical and practical training in drafting principles, drafting skills, CAD drafting, manufacturing processes and machine and tool design. The program teaches students to produce detail and assembly drawings, piping process layouts and instrumental and piping diagrams, along with how to use control systems (hydraulic and pneumatic). Alternatively, a student may enter an apprenticeship in order to learn the trade.

Step 3: Acquire Experience

Job opportunities for piping designers are best for those with at least two years of postsecondary training, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); however, growth may be slower than average due to outsourcing overseas (www.bls.gov).

Step 4: Acquire Certification

Professional Piping Designer certification (PPD) is available for piping designers who have the required experience and pass certain exams. Certification is a five level process. Level I stresses piping layout. Level III stresses equipment placement, spacing and orientation. Levels I and III require passing an exam. Levels II, III and IV demand four, eight and twelve years of experience, respectively. Level II exam consists of 45 questions and Level III, 1,000 questions. Level IV requires management experience.

Step 5: Career Advancement

Expertise with CAD may open doors to employment, and piping designers should look for temporary jobs or jobs hired on a contractual basis. American Design Drafting Association also offers certification in drafting that can give job applicants an extra edge.

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