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Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter – What’s The Difference?

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter – what’s the difference? Learn everything you need to know about the differences between a Boilermaker and a Pipefitter.


A Boilermaker and a Pipefitter are two different occupations that require a varied set of skills and knowledge. Boilermakers typically work in industrial settings, such as power plants, refineries, and chemical plants, and are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining boilers, tanks, and other large vessels. Pipefitters specialize in installing, maintaining, and repairing pipes and other plumbing systems, most often in commercial and residential settings.

What is a Boilermaker?

A boilermaker is a tradesperson who fabricates, installs, and repairs boilers, tanks, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases. Boilermakers may also work on other piping systems in industrial and commercial settings.

What is a Pipefitter?

A pipefitter is a tradesperson specializing in installing and maintaining pipes that carry chemicals, liquids, or gases. They work on piping systems in industrial, commercial, and residential settings. Pipefitters may also fabricate and install pipe systems for steam, heating, cooling, and other purposes.

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter

Below we discuss the fundamental differences between the work duties, work requirements, and work environment of a Boilermaker and a Pipefitter.

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter Job Duties

Boilermakers and pipefitters are skilled tradespeople who play crucial roles in constructing and maintaining industrial systems. While their job duties may overlap in some areas, there are distinct differences between the responsibilities of a boilermaker and a pipefitter.

Boilermakers primarily focus on fabricating, installing, and repairing boilers, tanks, and other large vessels that hold liquids and gases under high pressure. They are experts at interpreting blueprints and technical drawings to determine the specifications and dimensions of the structures they work on.

Boilermakers use various tools and equipment to cut, shape, and weld metal components, ensuring they are accurately aligned and securely fastened. They are also responsible for conducting inspections and tests to ensure the structural integrity and safety of the vessels they work on. Boilermakers may also perform routine maintenance and repairs to keep the systems in optimal condition. They typically work in industrial settings such as power plants, refineries, and manufacturing facilities.

On the other hand, pipefitters specialize in the installation, assembly, and maintenance of piping systems that transport fluids and gases. They are skilled at interpreting blueprints and layout designs to determine the precise placement and configuration of the pipes.

Pipefitters measure and cut pipes to the required lengths and use tools to thread, bend, and weld them together. They install and connect the pipes to various components, such as pumps, tanks, and valves, ensuring proper alignment and sealing. Pipefitters also conduct pressure and leakage tests to verify the integrity and functionality of the systems they work on. Pipefitters work in diverse industries, including construction, manufacturing, and oil and gas.


In summary, boilermakers and pipefitters have distinct job duties that reflect their specific areas of expertise. Boilermakers focus on the fabrication, installation, and repair of boilers and large vessels, while pipefitters specialize in installing and maintaining piping systems.

RelatedWhat Does a Boilermaker Do?

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter Job Requirements

Becoming a boilermaker or a pipefitter requires meeting specific job requirements and acquiring the necessary skills through education and training. While both professions are skilled trades, there are differences in the job requirements for boilermakers and pipefitters.

To become a boilermaker, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. However, some individuals may enter the field through apprenticeship programs, which combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. These apprenticeships generally last four to five years and provide comprehensive training in blueprint reading, welding, metal fabrication, and other relevant skills. Boilermakers also need to possess strong mathematical abilities to measure and calculate dimensions accurately.

In contrast, pipefitters also typically require a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers may prefer candidates with post-secondary training in pipefitting or a related field. Pipefitters often begin their careers through apprenticeship programs, lasting anywhere from four to five years. During their apprenticeship, they receive training in areas such as pipe systems, welding, blueprint reading, and safety procedures. Pipefitters must have a good understanding of plumbing codes, pipe materials, and different types of pipe fittings.

Regarding specialization, boilermakers focus primarily on boilers and large vessels, while pipefitters specialize in piping systems. As a result, boilermakers may need additional certifications or endorsements depending on the jurisdiction and the specific projects they work on. These certifications may include pressure vessel welding certifications or qualifications in working with specific materials such as stainless steel or high-pressure alloys.


Overall, while both boilermakers and pipefitters require a high school diploma or equivalent, boilermakers may have more specific requirements for welding and working with high-pressure vessels. Pipefitters, on the other hand, may benefit from additional training or certifications in plumbing and pipefitting systems.

Related: What Do Plumbers, Pipefitters & Steamfitters Do?

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter Work Environment

The work environment for boilermakers and pipefitters can vary based on the nature of their job duties and the industries they work in.

Boilermakers often work in industrial settings, such as power plants, refineries, and manufacturing facilities. They are responsible for constructing, assembling, and maintaining large vessels, such as boilers and tanks. Boilermakers may work both indoors and outdoors, depending on the project requirements. They often work at great heights or in confined spaces, which can present physical challenges.

The work environment for boilermakers can be physically demanding, with exposure to extreme temperatures, noise, and hazardous materials. Safety precautions are paramount, and boilermakers must adhere to strict protocols to ensure their well-being.

Pipefitters, on the other hand, work in a variety of settings, including commercial, residential, and industrial construction sites. They are responsible for installing, repairing, and maintaining piping systems that transport fluids or gases. Pipefitters may work in new construction projects, renovations, or maintenance activities. Their work can involve both indoor and outdoor settings, depending on the project requirements.

Pipefitters may work in tight spaces or elevated areas, and they often need to navigate through different areas of a building or facility. They may also encounter different types of materials, such as copper, steel, or plastic pipes. Like boilermakers, pipefitters must follow safety guidelines and protocols to ensure the safety and integrity of the piping systems they work on.

Both boilermakers and pipefitters may work as part of a larger construction or maintenance team, collaborating with other tradespeople and professionals. They need to communicate effectively with colleagues, contractors, and clients to understand project requirements and ensure the proper installation or repair of equipment.


Overall, while both professions involve physical work and potential exposure to hazardous conditions, the specific work environments for boilermakers and pipefitters can vary. Boilermakers often work on large-scale industrial projects, while pipefitters can be found in various construction settings.

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter Skills

To be successful as a boilermaker or a pipefitter, individuals must possess specific job skills that are essential to their respective roles.

Boilermakers require a range of technical skills to perform their duties effectively. They need expertise in reading and interpreting blueprints, drawings, and specifications to understand the layout and structure of boilers and other vessels.

Boilermakers must be skilled in using various hand and power tools, such as welding equipment, grinders, and cutting torches, to fabricate and assemble metal components. They must have a strong understanding of welding techniques, including different types of welding such as stick welding, MIG welding, and TIG welding. Additionally, boilermakers must possess excellent mechanical aptitude, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work with precise measurements.

On the other hand, pipefitters require specific skills related to the installation and maintenance of piping systems. They must be proficient in reading and interpreting piping system blueprints, diagrams, and specifications to determine the correct layout and configuration of pipes.

Pipefitters need to be skilled in measuring, cutting, and bending pipes accurately to fit within the designated spaces. They also require expertise in joining pipes using different methods, such as soldering, welding, or threading. Knowledge of various pipe materials, such as copper, steel, and plastic, is essential. Pipefitters should have a good understanding of the different types of fittings, valves, and connectors used in piping systems. Attention to detail, precision, and working in confined spaces are important skills for pipefitters.

Both boilermakers and pipefitters need strong safety skills to ensure their well-being and the integrity of the structures and systems they work on. They must be knowledgeable about safety procedures, regulations, and industry standards to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries. Additionally, both professions require effective communication skills to collaborate with team members, contractors, and supervisors.


While there are some similarities in the technical skills required for boilermakers and pipefitters, each role has its own distinct set of skills that are crucial for success. Boilermakers focus more on the fabrication and assembly of large vessels, while pipefitters concentrate on installing and maintaining piping systems.

Boilermaker vs. Pipefitter Salary

The salary for boilermakers and pipefitters can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and industry. Generally, both professions offer competitive wages reflecting the specialized skills and expertise required.

Boilermakers typically earn a higher salary compared to pipefitters. According to available data, the median annual wage for boilermakers in the United States is around $64,690. However, it’s important to note that salaries can range from approximately $38,500 to over $94,000 per year, depending on various factors.

On the other hand, pipefitters also receive a respectable salary. The median annual wage for pipefitters in the United States is approximately $56,330. Pipefitters can expect salaries ranging from around $34,800 to over $94,000 per year, depending on factors such as experience, location, and industry.

It’s worth mentioning that both boilermakers and pipefitters may have the opportunity to increase their earning potential through additional certifications, advanced skills, and experience. Specializing in certain industries or working in high-demand regions can also impact salary levels.

When considering a career as a boilermaker or pipefitter, it’s essential to weigh the salary potential along with other factors, such as job satisfaction, career growth opportunities, and personal interests.

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