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Recently, our neighbor told us he got a job as a pipeliner. I was excited for him because that has been his goal since he moved to Louisiana, and it’ll be great to see how this turns out. However, after he left, my grandson asked me, “what’s a pipeliner.”
Pipeliners build and maintain pipelines that distribute oil, gas, or other liquids so we have the energy to power our everyday lives. Under the umbrella of “pipeliner,” there are various jobs such as operator, fabricator, and welding inspector, all working together to provide vital resources.
Developing and maintaining these vast networks of pipelines is not an easy job. But how much does a pipeliner earn, and what is required to become a pipeliner?
We will discuss all these details in this post, so keep reading.
Pipeliners are the crew that works on pipelines across the globe. These men and women build, maintain, and operate networks of pipes and associated pumping stations used for transporting oil or natural gas safely to their destinations all over our planet.
Maintaining these complex networks requires exceptional skills like knowing how much pressure is too much when dealing with pipe integrity, valve usage, welding strength, and understanding gas toxicity and flammability.
Therefore, this job requires both physical and mental skills and has good perks. But how do you become a pipeline welder?
Pipeliners build and fix pipelines in different environments. They might have to work underwater or on high altitudes. This job requires problem-solving skills, physical stamina, and mechanical finesse.
The job requires you to construct and install pipes and inspect piping materials to ensure that the piping meets mandatory specifications.
As a pipeline welder, you will have to use diagrams and blueprints to assemble metal pipes according to the code. Most jobs require an applicant to have either a welding degree or certificate to verify their skills.
Pipeliners have to follow strict safety protocols to reduce injury risk and maintain quality work for their clients while performing their job.
You might not have to have an extended academic qualification to work in this role, but you must take some steps to be a pipeliner.
Most pipelining apprenticeships can last from 3 to 4 years. These include classroom instructions along with worksite training. Most of these programs need approximately 2000 training hours under a supervisor who is a skilled pipeline welder.
Here you will learn to operate different machinery and tools that you will use on the job. You will also learn to use and read blueprints, communicate with clients or colleagues, and sort out common problems.
You will get adequate exposure to become a pipeline welder with an apprenticeship. Hence, you will get the opportunity to observe other pipeliners working.
With an apprenticeship, you will have a better chance to get hired by employers looking for people who don’t need any additional training. Apprenticeship programs are offered through welding unions or on the job.
Most employers prefer employing certified pipeliners. Therefore, becoming certified in your field will increase your chances of employment. With this certification, you are presenting yourself as a knowledgeable and skillful pipeliner, even if you do not have much experience under your belt.
For this certification, you can attend a trade school or complete the online training and certification by AWS (American Welding Society). You will not need any prior experience to get this certification. However, you will have to renew your certification every six months to remain valid.
This certification has three parts:
- Weld test demonstrating the neatness and precision of your welds.
- Mechanical test to test the durability of your weld
- Radiographic test to see the X-ray scans of your welds for any weaknesses.
You will have to list all your recent and past relevant jobs, which is essential to help you get hired. A good resume should include your training, skills, experience, and education in the pipelining field.
Pipeliners can receive a pretty good salary and perks. It is especially the case if you are a pipeline welder in the oil and gas industry.
The median wage for this role is around USD 58,000 annually. At the low end of the median pay scale, the average salary is USD 53,000, and at the top, it is USD 89,000 annually.
Senior pipeliners with several years of experience under their belt can earn over USD 110,000 per annum. It often includes shift premiums or differentials and overtime pay.
Most pipeline welders receive dental and health insurance, sick days, holidays, and paid vacations. Pension and retirement plans are also part of the perks, profit-sharing plans, and other bonuses.
Union employees’ wages and perks are negotiated with local union representatives or company representatives. The pay rates can vary widely from one company to another and one region to another.
Here is a list of some of the best pipeliner jobs in the US:
Job Title – Gas Pipeline Engineer
Location – Colorado Springs, CO
Pay – USD 100,532 to USD 125,665 per annum
Qualifications – CAD, Bachelor’s degree, Engineer in Training, US work authorization
Benefits – Wellness program, health insurance, life insurance, relocation assistance, and disability insurance
Job Title – Oil & Gas Pipeline Engineer
Location – Remote
Pay – USD 77,000 to USD 100,000 yearly
Qualifications – ASME Codes, Bachelor’s/Master’s Degree, Communication skills
Benefits – 401(k) matching, health insurance, work from home, tuition reimbursement
Job Title – Construction Supervisor
Location – Etna, PA
Pay – USD 73,000 to USD 100,000 annually
Qualifications – Leadership, GIS, Bachelor’s degree, Constructions, Supervising experience
Benefits – Life insurance, disability insurance, promotion opportunities, vision insurance, health insurance
Pipeliners can work in a variety of jobs. They can work in nuclear power plants, construction sites, and auto manufacturing facilities. Some of their duties include:
- Solving various problems associated with piping
- Reading diagrams and blueprints
- Fusing and assembling pipes using welding tools
- Using appropriate equipment for different welding techniques
- Preparation of welding materials
- Make sure the welds follow the code and specifications
- Following all the safety procedures
Apart from the practical know-how, you need to have various other skills as a pipeliner:
You have to stay in shape as a pipeliner, as you might have to do your job in remote areas under extreme conditions. Pipeliners have to be on their feet at all times. They might also need to crawl or lift heavy objects on the job.
You have to review diagrams and blueprints as a pipeliner. So, it would be best if you were detail-oriented. Precise measurements are a must so pipes can line up correctly following strict codes and specifications.
Pipeliners have to fix problems as they arise within these pipes. So, it would help if you were prepared to deal with issues while you are at work, like tools breaking or pipe bursting.
Pipeliners have to operate various welding equipment and fitting tools. Furthermore, you must understand how to use different pipe-cutting tools and crane alignment. As a pipeliner, you need to use these tools and machinery effectively and productively.
Pipeliners have to work in different teams on different projects. Therefore, they must have communication skills. They must guide their team and ask questions if they are not sure about anything.
Pipeliners are pretty skillful people in their field. They know how to handle various problems that might arise on a worksite. However, this job is all about precision and accuracy. And it will only come when you have experience.
Therefore, you will need to work on different projects to gain experience and exposure. Of course, a college diploma and an apprenticeship will get you going in the field. But with a certification, you will have better chances of steady growth in your field.
Moreover, you will also have to be in good shape because pipeliners have to spend most of their time standing on their feet, and there are times when they have to work in harsh conditions.