Job Description, Salary, Job Requirements and more
What Does a Pipelayer Do?
Pipelayers are skilled tradesmen who install underground piping to connect buildings and building sites to water supplies, sewers, and stormwater management systems. When buildings are designed and then constructed it is necessary to address aspects of the building including how the building will handle the stormwater runoff. Buildings must also be able to discharge sewage into public sewers or into on-lot septic systems. This requires the use of a network of underground piping to connect the building to the surroundings systems.
Stormwater management is also not limited to just the building itself. The next time you are in a parking lot take a look around. The parking lot has a stormwater retention and management system that runs underneath the pavement that you drive your car or truck on. Each of the points where stormwater runs to that is marked with a steel grate is connected by underground piping.
Installing underground piping is a vital function for commercial buildings and residential homes. Without the ability to discharge sewage and manage stormwater as well as pipe in fresh water, the buildings that the world depends on would not be usable.
Pipelayers are skilled tradesmen that cut, fit and lay underground piping. The piping may be made of many different types of materials including PVC and concrete. The process of laying piping requires the Pipelayer to be able to cut and fit each section of piping tight so that the joints in the piping are tight and no liquid leaks out of the pipe joints.
Securing a tight fit at the joint between sections of piping may also require the Pipelayer to grade the trench where the pipe is being installed. This will provide an even surface to support the joints in the piping. In addition, the piping must be sloped in order to provide positive drainage for the liquid that the piping is moving.
Pipelayers may also be called on to operate heavy machinery. In many situations, the piping being installed is heavy and requires heavy equipment to effectively move the piping. Heavy machinery allows heavy pieces of piping to be maneuvered into place and positioned.
Commercial vs. Residential
Residential and commercial pipe laying are different in many aspects. Residential projects typically involved piping that is smaller in diameter and may be for limited amount of uses. Most residential pipe laying projects are done in conjunction with or are addressed by a professional excavator. These projects may include connecting a home to a public sewer or public water source. In addition, projects may include installation of an onsite septic system.
Commercial pipe laying projects are much more complex than a residential project. The scope of work can be significantly larger. Projects may include the installation of a stormwater retention system for a commercial plot of land that will be the home of a new shopping center or office building. It may also include the connection of a large structure such as a church to a public sewer system.
The complexity of a commercial project is much greater than a residential project. Residential projects are more simplistic and do not require the degree of engineering that a larger commercial project would require. Commercial projects typically involve a significant amount of engineering to design and install. Depending on the climate where the pipe is being laid, the project may be very complex due to soil types and other factors.
Learning to master pipelaying in the residential segment of the industry may provide valuable experience for those looking to expand into the commercial segment of the industry.
- Digging and grading trenches to place pipe in.
- Laying sections of pipe and completing connections between pipe sections.
- Completing welds on sections of metal pipe where metal piping is specified.
- Operating heavy equipment to dig trenches for laying piping. Also using heavy equipment to place sections of piping.
- Making connections to lines including sewer lines, water lines and storm sewers.
There are no educational requirements for Pipelayers. Pipelayers are skilled tradesmen who have specific skills and abilities to operate heavy equipment and lay pipe according to a specific layout and design. Additional certifications may be beneficial for some aspects of a career as a Pipelayer.
- Welding – specifically if laying metal piping requiring welded joints.
- Ability to operate heavy equipment to remove and replace soils and earth.
- Determine grade of trenching using tools including lasers and transit levels.
- Operate cutting equipment to cut various types of piping materials.
- Operate small powered equipment including tampers.
- Cut, fit and seal various types of piping.
- Ability to communicate effectively with crew members including the written and spoken word.
- Ability to think logically about work at hand and compare site conditions with project designs.
- Ability to read blueprints and other project related documents.
Blueprint reading, *potentially* heavy equipment operator training, 811 One Call training, welding certification – if pipe being laid has welded connections.
How Much Does a Pipelayer Make?
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How do I become a Pipelayer?
Are you interested in a career as a Pipelayer? Becoming a Pipelayer provides an excellent career for someone interested in getting into the construction industry. Skilled Pipelayers are in high demand. New construction and development projects continue to be started. In addition, existing infrastructure projects including public sewer and water replacement projects will be required as existing systems age.
Learning and developing the skills needed to be a Pipelayer can also lead to other opportunities and careers. Individuals who learn and develop a career as a Pipelayer can explore additional opportunities as a construction estimator, project manager or even as a small business owner. Pipelayers may be able to start a small excavating business after they learn the core of the business.
The demand for this skill set is continuing to increase.
NEED HELP BUILDING A PIPELAYER RESUME?
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If you’re interested in this career, you might also be interested in:
Pipefitter, Excavating Contractor, Plumber.