Do you enjoy working with steel? Do you want to help build different types of structures? If so, a career as an ironworker might be for you. Read on to learn more!
As an ironworker, you could work on many types of structures. You can also work with different types of metals used to build tunnels, overpasses, roads, shops and many other configurations. You may specialize in building the structures or reinforcing processes that support the construction process. When working on construction sites, you might coordinate with an on-site crane operator to help prepare for assembly. Working as an ironworker you should be in good health and be able to work with little or no fear of heights.
In the ironworking field, you may find work as a fitter, welder, steel fabricator, steel worker, structural steel erector or tower hand. You may work to reinforce iron and rebar, or be employed as a rodman, rod buster, steel tier or reinforced ironworker. Other job possibilities include ornamental ironworker or rigger.
Working in reinforcing iron and rebar, you would make forms for structures out of rebar, bars and concrete. Working as an ornamental ironworker, you would set up guide rails, stairways and other types of metal objects that aren't part of main structures. Working in assembling and fabrication, including rigging, you might assist in constructing, fixing or securing parts of watercrafts, airliners or types of heavy machinery. If you work in fabricating metal, you would create parts out of metal.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of reinforcing and structural iron and metal workers was expected to increase 12% between 2008 and 2018 (www.bls.gov). A two percent employment decrease was predicted for assemblers and fabricators.
As for average salaries in the field, reinforcing iron and metal workers earned $44,690 as of May 2010, according to the BLS. Average wages for structural iron and steel workers was $48,710; assemblers of aircrafts structures, surfaces, rigging and other systems earned $45,230, and structural metal fabricators and fitters made an average wage of $35,900 per year, again noted by the BLS.
You may be able to start a career in ironworking with an apprenticeship program or on-the-job training. Apprenticeships can be found at community colleges and technical colleges. These types of programs can lead to a certificate or associate degree in ironworking. Through an apprenticeship program, you complete extensive on-the-job training. As an aspiring ironworker, you receive classroom instruction in blueprint reading, safety, welding and basic structural engineering concepts. You might also learn how to operate different types of equipment, computers and other types of software applications.
Upon completion of an apprenticeship program, you're able to operate various types of equipment and tools and have knowledge of safety procedures, welding processes and fabrication techniques. You also possess the skills and abilities needed to assemble and disassemble multiple types of structures. In addition, you're able to operate applicable computer applications and have significant knowledge of Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA laws.