A pipe layer apprenticeship program features a mix of on-site training and classroom instruction. 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. Prerequisites for apprenticeship programs in pipe laying include a high school diploma or GED, prior coursework in drafting and math and experience in construction or public works of a year or more.
Apprenticeship Programs in Pipe Laying
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 13% increase in the employment of pipe layers from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). This growth is expected to be driven by the continued increase in the construction industry overall. According to the BLS, the mean annual salary of pipe layers was $41,910 in May 2015.
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.
Apprenticeship programs in pipe laying teach students how to install pipes through a combination of traditional classroom instruction and on-site training. After completing the program, graduates often need to obtain state licenses or certifications to work professionally in the field.