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Steamfitters and pipefitters plan and lay out piping systems. These systems carrying water, steam, chemicals and fuel for heating, cooling and lubricating. As a steam fitter or pipe fitter you will also be responsible for maintaining, troubleshooting and repairing piping systems. These piping systems operate under extremely high pressure and temperature. This means you need to have a thorough knowledge of scientific principles to do this job.
Steamfitters and pipefitters typically work in maintenance departments of mills and other kinds of factories and plants.
A day in the life of a steam fitter or pipe fitter might include moving a 40-tonne boiler and installing it in a small confined space. To do this you would need to choose the right tools for the move and come up with a plan to coordinate a team to do the install.
Finishing high school is your first step on the road to becoming a steamfitter or pipefitter. After that you will need to complete a four- to five-year apprenticeship program or combine work experience in the trade and some high school, college or industry courses in steamfitting, pipefitting or sprinkler system installation over five years.
Steamfitter-pipefitter trade certification is mandatory in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta and available, but voluntary, in all other provinces and the territories. An interprovincial Red Seal endorsement is also available to allow your skills to be officially recognized across Canada.
Apprentices can receive up to $4,000 in grants to pay tuition, travel, tools, or other expenses.
If you are considering an apprenticeship, visit the interprovincial Red Seal program for information on how to get started.
Millwright and Industrial Mechanic
A millwright, or industrial mechanic, is a tradesperson who installs, maintains and repairs stationary industrial machinery and mechanical equipment. They interpret drawings, follow layouts and assemble parts until they are in perfect working order. Millwrights and industrial mechanics work in a variety of industries, and can pursue complementary training and develop extra skills in steel fabrication, welding, machining, electronics, hydraulics or pneumatics.
Construction millwrights are mostly engaged in the initial installation of industrial plant machinery and equipment. Industrial mechanics are more concerned with the post-installation maintenance and repair of machinery and equipment.
Industrial mechanics and millwrights may be cross-trained in a second trade such as pipefitting, welding, machining or electrical maintenance. A day in the life of a millwright might involve installing a giant turbine for an industrial mechanic to maintain and keep humming.