Sprinkler fitters are professionals in the plumbing industry trained to install, modify, and inspect sprinkler systems. If you want to become a sprinkler fitter, you should have a strong interest in fire prevention, plumbing, and solving problems. This can be a very attractive field for the right candidate.
It’s common for sprinkler fitters to work for plumbing companies. some work as independent contractors, as well. Let’s look a little closer at what a sprinkler fitter does and how you can become one.
Job Duties of a Sprinkler Fitter
As a sprinkler fitter, you will install the fire system for a building. You will likely have many specific daily job duties including:
- Cutting pipes
- Threading pipes
- Assembling and bonding all the pipes and tubes
- Installing sprinklers
- Installing hose systems
- Repairing defective sprinkler systems
- Testing sprinkler systems
- Making sure the system will pass every fire inspection
- Working with cutting torches, saws, drills, and wrenches
It’s common for sprinkler fitters to also work as pipefitters and pipe repairers. They may do multiple jobs with different job duties.
Requirements to Become a Sprinkler Fitter
The basic requirements to become a sprinkler fitter include:
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You will need a high school education
- You will need to be in good physical health
- You must be able to read and write the English language
- You must be able to be legally employed in the United States
- You will need to have a valid driver’s license
- You must pass the aptitude exam and an oral interview, in most cases
- You will need to have transportation to get to and from your job
If you want to become a sprinkler fitter, you will need to gain plumbing knowledge and a better understanding of fire prevention techniques. It’s also good to be very organized and have basic engineering knowledge.
The requirements to become a sprinkler fitter include:
- Finish High School – You will need a high school diploma or equivalent to become a sprinkler fitter. A good understanding of basic math is also very helpful.
- Enter an Apprentice Program – Unlike other careers, you won’t need a college degree to become a sprinkler fitter. Instead, you will need to enroll in an apprenticeship.
- Complete Your Apprenticeship – You will need to complete around 1,000 hours as an apprentice. These hours are usually paid and will include learning from experienced sprinkler fitters. You will also need to complete the classroom work.
- Pass an Exam – Before you can become licensed as a sprinkler fitter, you will need to pass an exam.
When you go through the steps to become a sprinkler fitter, you will learn about plumbing codes, fire prevention, and elementary engineering concepts. The licensing exam will test your knowledge on these topics.
If you want to become a sprinkler fitter apprentice, you will need to have good physical strength and endurance. This is a hardworking type of job, so you will need to be able to handle the physical labor of the job.
While an apprenticeship is the most common way to become a sprinkler fitter, some trade schools may offer programs, as well. However, it’s more common for a local union to offer apprenticeships. In areas where there is no local union, a trade school may have a program that will work.
The best way to become a sprinkler fitter is to contact the local union in your area. They can provide the necessary requirements and what will be needed to enter an apprenticeship program.
Necessary Skills of Sprinkler Fitters
As you work towards becoming a sprinkler fitter, you will want to work on specific skills. These include:
- Attention to Detail – You need to pay close attention to the instructions and blueprints for each job. As you cut and weld pipes, details will matter. A detail-oriented person will work out well as a sprinkler fitter.
- Good Communication Skills – You will often work with a team and with clients. you will need to be able to communicate with them well.
- Good Fitness and Stamina – Sprinkler fitters have to be able to stand up for long periods and carry heavy materials
- Good Dexterity – You should be able to work well with your hands.
- Critical Thinking Skills – Sprinkler fitters will need to solve issues regularly. If you cannot think through issues, this may not be the type of job you should go into.
These skills will help you to become a successful sprinkler fitter. Make sure you work on developing these skills as you go through the proper training to become a sprinkler fitter.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sprinkler Fitters
How much can I make as a sprinkler fitter?
While there isn’t much data for the salary of a sprinkler fitter, the average salary for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters, is about $53K. The average of salaries can go anywhere from about $31K to $91K, depending on your experience level and your location. Zippa.com puts the average salary at $55,813 for sprinkler fitters.
Those working in Seattle, WA or Salem, OR may earn more than $70K, on average. Sacramento, California also pays a higher-than-average salary range.
The average pay for a sprinkler fitter apprentice is around $20.45 per hour. You can make around $42K per year as you train for this career.
What are the best resources for sprinkler fitters?
If you become a sprinkler fitter, you will likely want to join the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA). This organization will provide resources you can use to educate the public and network. They hold events and provide plenty of educational resources.
Another good option is the Fire Protection, Detection, and Suppression Systems. This is a publication from the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA), which is a great resource for sprinkler fitters. You can use this book to help you decide if you want to become a sprinkler fitter.
Both of these resources can be very helpful for those that become a sprinkler fitter or are considering this career.
Is this career expected to grow?
Yes. Over the next ten years, sprinkler fitter jobs will likely grow by about 14%. This is well above the average of all occupations in the United States.
Will I need to join a union as a sprinkler fitter?
While you are not required to join a union, many sprinkler fitters will join one. You will need to complete a training program from a source like the American Fire Sprinkler Association to join a unique. Many unions will require an apprenticeship. Some may require you to work as an apprentice for as long as five years.
Once you have completed your training, you can apply to join a union. Some unions will even provide placement programs for apprenticeships.
What type of hours do sprinkler fitters work?
Most sprinkler fitters will work full-time hours. These hours will likely be rather common business hours. However, you may need to work evenings, holidays, and weekends. Some sprinkler fitters will be on-call for emergency repairs, too.
For some, the hours may be long, but overtime pay can boost your salary. Others will work a pretty strict 40-hour week. It will depend on the job, the deadline, and your employer.
Can I advance as a sprinkler fitter?
Yes, you can advance as a sprinkler fitter. You will start as an apprentice and work your way up to a journeyman position. With plenty of experience, you may be able to move into a supervisor role or a role of a project manager. Many sprinkler fitters also work for themselves as independent contractors.
What are the work conditions like for sprinkler fitters?
Most sprinkler fitters will work indoors and outdoors as a part of a team. It’s common to work in both new and older buildings, depending on the job. You may work in commercial or residential buildings. The conditions will likely depend on the job. Most of the time, you will be working inside, but you may also be outdoors for some of the time.
How long will my apprenticeship last?
You will be an apprentice for around 6,600 hours of work. Some programs require more or less. If you want to become a journeyman, you will likely work as an apprentice for three to five years. Some programs will last longer than others. You will need to consult your local union or trade school to find out the specifics of your apprenticeship program.
Becoming a sprinkler fitter can be a very rewarding career. This is an in-demand job and will only become more popular as more buildings are created. You will be able to help prevent fires and protect buildings when you decide you want to go into this career.
With the right training, you can earn a nice salary as a sprinkler fitter. You can even advance to a supervisor position and earn an even higher salary. This is also a career where you can get paid as you gain the necessary training.