Careers in the Industry
Build Your Future With A Rewarding Career In Mechanical Contracting
When a high school student thinks about the future, the career possibilities
are virtually limitless; after college these options are narrowed greatly. Confronted
with the numerous opportunities facing young men and women today, it is understandable
that so many are confused and uncertain about their future.
What kind of jobs does the industry offer?
There are a wide variety of jobs available. Estimators, draftsmen, foremen, designers, pipe welders, managers, salesmen, plumbers, pipefitters, engineers and accountants are but a few of the possible careers in this field.
Are these creative jobs?
They certainly are. Consider that every individual on the contractor's team plays
an important and significant role in the creation of the final living structure
that is being built, and has a hand in the creation of something that didn't
exist before. When the job is completed, the finished building stands as a monument
to all the men and women who were part of its creation.
What Is Mechanical Contracting?
The term mechanical contracting covers the mechanical skills, crafts and management
techniques that are among the fundamental requirements for every type of large
building, whether it be a school or a factory, a hospital or a gigantic power
plant. The mechanical contracting industry is responsible for installing the
heating and air conditioning, piping and plumbing systems without which these
buildings and other facilities would be merely empty shells. They would be without
interior climate control, ventilation, pollution and emissions control, water
supply and waste removal systems that are essential for modern human usefulness.
However advanced, or beautifully designed a building may be, without the heart,
veins and arteries supplied by the men and women of the mechanical contracting
industry, it would be as lifeless as a marble statue.
Does this industry offer a stable base for a personal career, and the growth potential to create even greater opportunity in the future?
Continually arising new frontiers will require increasingly skilled craftsmen
trained in mechanical contracting. Here are a few: air pollution control; desalinization
of sea water to augment the diminishing fresh water supplies in our state;
development and installation of control systems to banish pollution of precious
existing fresh water sources; and cryogenics, the science of handling and utilizing
extreme cold by means of specially designed systems to serve society in new
ways, from fresher frozen foods to biochemical research.
Many Kinds Of Jobs
A few of the specific jobs available in the mechanical contracting industry
have already been mentioned, such as plumber and pipefitter, two skilled crafts
which are basic to the industry's functioning. Some of the job opportunities
are "inside" jobs, such as office, headquarters or shop occupations;
others are "outside," in the field, done on the jobsite where the
actual construction is taking place. And some, of course, at the management
level, are both inside and outside.
Pipefitter and Plumber
The pipefitter and the plumber have very similar skills and both work "outside" on
the jobsite. The main difference is that the pipefitter works on heating systems,
air conditioning systems and other specialized piping. The plumber applies
his skills to plumbing systems, water supply, waste disposal, drainage and
similar piping systems. To qualify for either of these occupations, the applicant
must pass an aptitude test and serve a five year apprenticeship period of combined
on the-job and classroom training before he becomes a fully qualified journeyman.
Field Manager and Foreman
As these titles suggest, both of these job categories are outside, onsite occupations. The field manager usually directs the work of one or more teams of pipefitters and plumbers. Each team works under a foreman. The foreman is the "team captain" and coordinates the work of each craftsman so as to keep each section of the overall job progressing at the right speed. Qualifications for these two positions include ample knowledge and experience in pipefitting and plumbing plus managerial and leadership abilities. Ordinarily these jobs are filled through promotion from the ranks of journeymen pipefitters and plumbers.
This inside specialist is like the plumber and the pipefitter in that the job
requires working with tools and special skills and talents. The tools, such
as the T-square and triangle, are as different as are the talents, but the
draftsman's role is equally important to the successful completion of the job.
This particular job function has also felt the impact of computer technology
in the last few years. Increasingly, the draftsman's task will be relying more
and more on computer aided design hardware and software. Following are a few
of the draftsman's job functions:
Another inside job is that of the estimator. As the title suggests, the estimator is charged with determining the specific cost of any construction project by itemizing and adding up the separate costs of materials, equipment and labor needed to complete the job. Sometimes the estimator is an engineer, particularly in the larger contracting firms. In many firms, the estimator is an expert specialist who has acquired skill through study and practice and has been promoted to this position.
General Manager and Project Manager
Depending on the size of the mechanical contracting firm, these two top executive
positions may be combined in smaller firms, and in larger ones there may be
more than one project manager. In general however, these positions are held
by individuals with years of successful experience who have applied their best
efforts to learning all aspects of mechanical contracting. These include not
only the craft skills, estimating and scheduling but finance and advanced leadership
and management skills.
While most jobs at all levels of mechanical contracting are open to those who are able to demonstrate greater responsibility, performance and leadership-even though they lack formal professional training-there are certain positions in which a college degree is essential. These include the professional engineers, designers and accountants who are also essential parts of a successful contracting business.
Other executive jobs of equal importance which often but not always call for
a college graduate are the comptroller and the purchasing agent. Briefly, the
comptroller is the chief financial executive and in many firms he may also
be one of the owners-who sees to it that the costs of performing the work at
hand do not exceed the amount of money the firm is to be paid for fulfilling
its contract. The purchasing agent-in some of the smaller firms this role may
be filled by the estimator-buys all the supplies, materials and equipment needed
for each project at the most economical price available, thus allowing the
firm to submit the most economical bid possible to a builder or owner, in order
to win the contract.
Role of the Mechanical Contractor
As was mentioned earlier, the mechanical contractor and his team are vital
to the overall construction process. So important is this complex organization
of skilled specialists that the mechanical contract for most types of buildings
is usually the largest single contract involved in the construction.
Growth PotentialMembers of the mechanical contractor's team in whatever capacity, rapidly become familiar through contact with these other specialists and professionals with the overall construction process-the art, craft and science of modern building. As they play their parts in installing boilers, controls, pipes of many varieties, fixtures, air conditioning and other indoor climate control units, their understanding of this modern equipment increases steadily. As they help protect and enhance the well being of the people who will live and work or play in these buildings, they gain true satisfaction. They have secured a rewarding career in the construction industry and are truly stars in their own fields.
If members of the mechanical contracting team wish to progress further or select other growing areas open to them, there are industrial piping and processing systems to be installed in chemical, petroleum, power, desalinization and other plants where complex, specialized piping is required. Here too, they can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to attain a worthwhile career.
MCIC hopes that this booklet has given you an interesting and thought-provoking view of one of the most exciting fields open to young people today. Whether you like to work with machine or hand tools, or have an engineer's or designer's talent, or are good at organizing projects, MCIC warmly invites you to think about-and look into-a career in mechanical contracting. We believe that all the potential rewards we've talked about are here-creativity, service to others, worthwhile satisfying work, excellent compensation and stability plus the finest personal growth possibilities anywhere. In mechanical contracting everybody can be a star.
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