Considered by the U.S. Department of Labor to be among the highest-paid skilled craftsmen in the construction industry, pipefitters work alongside plumbers to install fixtures such as sinks, refrigerators, bathtubs and heating units. Industrial pipefitters concentrate on installing and repairing the pipe systems in these mechanisms and are usually employed by power plants. Their annual salaries average about $50,000 but are higher in certain industries.
Pipefitters in the United States earned a 2009 average annual salary of $49,870, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The pay was even higher in industries such as glassmaking, which paid pipefitters an annual mean wage of $70,450, and in the motor-vehicle manufacturing industry, which paid them $67,150. Pipefitters in motor-vehicle parts manufacturing earned an average of $66,400.
In 2009, pipefitters in Illinois earned an annual mean wage of $67,610. Closely behind was Alaska at $67,320, followed by Massachusetts at $62,010, New Jersey at $61,640 and the District of Columbia at $60,650.
The entry point for employment as a pipefitter is usually either through a certificate, diploma or associate degree from a technical college or an apprenticeship with a plumbing organization. Options include the Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and the National Association of Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors. On-the-job training is also usually available from more experienced workers. Each state has different licensing regulations for pipefitters.
The prospect of earning a salary in the pipefitting industry is strong, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS reports the field is expected to grow 15 percent through 2018, adding 75,800 jobs. Pipefitters who are knowledgeable in green-energy and green-building techniques will have the most choice in securing employment.