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Electrician Vs. Pipefitter

People who like to work with their hands may be interested in pursuing a trade career, such as an electrician and pipefitter. Read on to compare the roles of electricians and pipefitters.

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Comparing Electricians to Pipefitters

Electricians and pipefitters are both construction workers, have similar training requirements and earn comparable salaries. Pipefitters will see higher job growth from 2016 to 2026. They require many comparable skills to perform their duties.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Electricians High school diploma or GED and apprenticeship $52,720 9%
Pipefitters High school diploma or GED and apprenticeship $51,450 (plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters) 16% (plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Electricians vs. Pipefitters

Electricians and pipefitters both need to know the building codes that they have to follow. They are both responsible for installing equipment and both electricians and plumbers use a variety of tools to do this. They both also test systems to determine what's causing issues and what needs to be repaired. The distinction is that they install different types of materials and repair different types of systems. They also perform different types of tests in order to check the systems they work on. Electricians may spend more time traveling to their clients' buildings, while it's common for pipefitters to work in factories and perform their tasks at one primary location.

Electricians

Electricians are responsible for ensuring that electricity flows safely and effectively through buildings so that systems that require electricity have power. Most work for electrical contractors, although some may also work in factories or be employed by the government. Most electricians travel from site to site to work on different buildings so they need to be organized to ensure they have all the equipment and tools they need before they drive to a job site. It's common for them to work long days and to work on weekends. Their job is physically demanding so they need the strength and endurance to be able to lift heavy materials, climb ladders and work on their feet for long periods of time.

Job responsibilities of an electrician include:

  • Studying building plans
  • Running wires through buildings
  • Assigning tasks to helpers and apprentices
  • Coordinating tasks with other tradesmen
  • Operating power tools
  • Testing electrical systems

Pipefitters

Pipefitters perform many of the same tasks that plumbers perform but the pipe systems they work on are used to transfer things like gas or chemicals. It's important that pipefitters be fit and strong so that they can move materials. They need mechanical skills to operate tools to perform their tasks. It's common for pipefitters to work for industrial companies or power plants, although some may also work in construction. It's also important that they have good problem-solving skills to quickly identify issues and determine what repairs are needed.

Job responsibilities of a pipefitter include:

  • Examining blueprints
  • Ensuring building codes are followed
  • Supervising apprentices
  • Putting pipes into new buildings
  • Conducting pressure tests
  • Performing inspections

Related Careers

Another career option that may interest individuals considering a future as an electrician is an electrical engineering technician since these technicians also work with wiring products so that they operate properly. If being a pipefitter sounds more appealing then you may also want to explore what boilermakers do since they require some of the same skills as pipefitters.

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