Archives for July 2014

Construction Trade Jobs In Demand

Industrial PlumberPlumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are among the occupations that have a bright job outlook, according to both federal and Texas projections. These jobs are forecast to increase by 21 percent nationally from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than the average for all jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor of Statistics. Locally, the Texas Gulf Coast region projects a 29 percent increase in occupations for pipefitters and steamfitters.

It should be noted that each of the occupations – plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters – are part of the same trade, which is construction. However, each occupation is specialized, even though they all share some similar tasks. Pipefitters, plumbers, and steamfitters assemble, install, change and repair pipelines or pipe systems that transport water, steam, air, or other types of liquids and gases.

The demand for these jobs can be attributed to several factors, including the flourishing petrochemical sector and a general lack of workers trained for those jobs.

Job Duties and the Workplace

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters perform the following tasks:

  • Install pipes and fixtures;
  • Analyze blueprints and follow state and local building codes;
  • Decide the amount of material and type of equipment needed;
  • Inspect and test pipe systems and pipelines that have been installed;
  • Troubleshoot systems that are not working; and
  • Replace worn parts.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Pipefitters usually work in the manufacturing and petrochemical industries, where they’re installing large pipe systems that carry petroleum or chemicals, for instance. Plumbers, on the other hand, typically work in the residential area and light industrial construction. Steamfitters install pipe systems that move liquids or gases under high pressure conditions. Many steamfitters have jobs at large college campuses, industrial plants, or power plants.

Pipefitters, plumbers and steamfitters can earn up to $31.24  per hour. In May 2012, the median annual wage for plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters was $49,140, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Training Future Pipefitters

Many pipefitters participate in apprenticeships offered by employers who provide hands-on training. Formal training is also available at community colleges like the member schools of the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges (TGCCCC), where students can receive top-notch instruction that takes into consideration industry requirements and industry best practices that will serve students well in their future jobs. The instruction in the classroom consists of teaching students the skills that they would learn in an apprenticeship program.

The TGCCCC member schools are in contact with companies in the petrochemical sector to stay updated about current practices, innovations and equipment that are being utilized in the field. Instructors then teach and share this valuable information with their students. Contact your local community college to learn more about degrees and certification programs that are being offered.

Jobs for the Next Wave of Machinists

Machinists - TGCCCCThe perception that the petrochemical and manufacturing fields have hazardous, gritty work environments where employees churn out repetitive, monotonous work could not be farther from the truth nowadays. Both of these technology-driven fields are flourishing – and providing high-paying jobs in safe, clean working environments – making the need for skilled workers such as machinists even more critical.

Machinists set up and operate a variety of powerful tools that are either computer-controlled or mechanically-controlled in order to produce accurate metal parts, instruments, and tools for engines and other automated products. As industries such as petrochemical and manufacturing experience surges, it’s vital to train future machinists to help keep jobs in the United States, which in turn benefits our economy.

The job outlook for machinists is favorable. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecast the demand for machinists to increase about 7 percent, adding about 29,000 jobs, through 2020. One of the reasons for the growth is because many employees who occupied machinist jobs are retiring, and machinist jobs will need to be filled by new, trained specialists.

In states such as Texas, the oil and gas sector is driving the demand for skilled workers, particularly in areas such as Houston, where the petrochemical industry is facing a shortage. While jobs are available for machinists in the Houston region, employers are having a difficult time finding people who possess the advanced skills and understanding of machining technologies to fill these positions. To help equip students with the training needed for these jobs, the member schools of the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges offer high-quality, affordable instruction regarding machining and other subjects that will prepare them for their careers with a two-year Associate Degree.

The Skills of a Machinist

Petrochemical and manufacturing companies make substantial investments in their equipment. A team of machinists will be responsible for operating various pieces of equipment. Therefore, it’s essential that machinists are team players with good communication skills. While a machinist doesn’t need to have a four-year degree, they should possess math and science skills. Machinists typically carry out the following duties:

  • Review and work from blueprints, computer-aided design (CAD), and other materials
  • Set up and operate various tools including computer numerical control (CNC) tools
  • Turn, mill, drill and grind machine parts to certain parameters
  • Plan and troubleshoot the production process
  • Oversee the feed and speed of machines
  • Examine and test completed products for accuracy

Machinists use a variety of tools (either manually controlled or CNC) such as lathes, milling machines, and grinders to produce precision metal parts. There will be a projected 18,775 jobs available in 2016 for machinists in the Houston region. The median hourly pay for machinists is $19.64.

The machinist trade is continually evolving, so machinists will need up-to-date training. Member schools of the Texas Gulf Coast Consortium of Community Colleges offer reputable academic programs that will pave the way for the next generation of successful machinists.

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