Texas State Technical College (TSTC) is preparing students entering into a high demand career, the field of plumbing and pipefitting.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters is estimated to grow nationwide by more than 49,000 jobs by the end of 2024.
In May 2016, there were over 40,000 pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters in Texas earning, on average, $46,100, according to the federal labor statistics bureau.
Cade West, 22, TSTC student from Boerne, had plumbing, welding and oil field experience prior to enrolling at TSTC. West is currently pursuing an Associate of Applied Sciences degree in Building Construction Technology-Project Management Inspection Specialization. Following graduation in 2018, West intends on working in the construction field and have the plumbing background to use when necessary.
“It’s an honest living,” West said.
TSTC’s Plumbing and Pipefitting Technology certificate program includes three semesters of hands-on classes to educate students about backflow prevention, steam piping, blueprint reading and other topics.
"In Waco, there is a huge demand for qualified service technicians in both the plumbing and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) markets," said Don Masten of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 529 in Waco. "Waco is aging, and we need trained people to maintain the buildings and homes as well as the aging infrastructure. With changes in technology, the process of building has sped up and become more efficient."
All testing and licensing for anyone in Texas working within the career fields of plumbing, medical gas piping installation, public water supply protection, sewage disposal and natural gas are administrated by the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners. Texas also requires 8,000 registered hours as a plumber’s apprentice prior to taking the journeyman licensing exam, Masten explained.
"We are losing our older generation and don't have as many younger people who want to get their hands dirty," said Jimmy Bibb, a plumbing and pipefitting instructor in TSTC's Building Construction Technology program. "We are more in the line of technicians."
According to Bibb, school districts should include plumbing and pipefitting programs into high school curricula, similar to construction technology and welding courses that are currently being offered. Students entering TSTC’s certificate program should not be afraid to work.
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