Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters constitute one of the largest construction occupations, holding about 561,000 jobs in 2004. About 1 in 2 worked for plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors engaged in new construction, repair, modernization, or maintenance work. Others did maintenance work for a variety of industrial, commercial, and government employers. For example, pipefitters were employed as maintenance personnel in the petroleum and chemical industries, in which manufacturing operations require the moving of liquids and gases through pipes. More than 1 in 10 pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters were self-employed. Almost 1 in 3 pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters belonged to a union.
Jobs for pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters are distributed across the country in about the same proportion as the general population.