Pipe fitters typically gain their experience and skills through an apprenticeship program, which combines trade school or community college courses with on-the-job experience. Community colleges or trade schools may award an associate's degree or certificate following successful completion of pipe fitting courses. Pipe fitter courses can also be found in welding technology programs. In a few states, pipe fitters are required to be licensed, so individuals should pursue training that meets with state guidelines.
After completing pipe fitter courses, students will know more about the following:
- Pipe system types and design
- Piping equipment and materials
- Safety protocols and standards
- Measuring and basic math for pipe fitters
- Trade terminology and communication strategies
List of Common Courses
Blueprint Reading Course
Blueprints often contain a variety of welding, architectural and engineering symbols, piping layout sketches and abbreviations. During this course, participants learn theories of projection and gain practice in drawing isometric and orthographic sketches, interpreting blueprints and taking accurate dimensions.
Drafting and Sketching Course
The course begins by teaching students the fundamentals of drafting as it is used in the pipe fitting trade, as well as the proper drawing tools to use. Later in the course, participants gain hands-on experience sketching the possible layouts of pipes and water and ventilation systems, and drawing images using accurate dimensions.
Pipe Welding Course
This laboratory course gives participants the practical skills needed to do basic welding. Prior to the hands-on training, focus is placed on setup and safety, as well as an introductory overview of the shielded metal arc welding (SMAW) process. Students also practice welding, arc welding and pipe cutting.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are important for any building, and in order to work with the piping, fitters must have a basic understanding of how they work. This course provides an overview of HVAC systems and design, as well as techniques for estimating heating and cooling loads and testing the systems. Note that this course may not be a part of all pipe fitting programs.
Pipe fitters must also understand the physics of hydraulic systems when working on a job. This course covers the basic aspects of hydraulics, such as fluid types, pressure, force, and functions of systems, as well as using pumps and valves, controlling airflow and maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing systems and equipment.