The field of metal construction assembly includes the jobs performed by metal assemblers and fabricators, as well as structural iron and steelworkers. Keep reading to learn more about these careers and training options.
If you have good technical, math and mechanical skills, as well as good dexterity and physical strength, you may enjoy a career as an assembler and fabricator. Metal assemblers are responsible for creating and assembling metal parts at a manufacturing plant while structural iron and steel workers, sometimes called iron workers, are responsible for assembling those parts at a construction site.
Metal assemblers and fabricators create metal pieces and fit them together. Their job tasks include interpreting blueprints, adjusting parts so that they will fit together and assembling parts using hand tools, nuts, bolts and screws. If they work with metal parts used to create buildings, they may be called structural metal fabricators and fitters. Structural iron and steel workers assemble and connect metal pieces at the construction site. Their job duties may include unloading, lifting and aligning prefabricated beams; measuring the alignment of those beams; and connecting beams together. These individuals work outside to create the basic building structure. Individuals with good balance and who are not afraid of heights might be a good fit for employment as a structural iron and steel worker.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects 4% job growth for assemblers and fabricators during the 2012-2022 decade (www.bls.gov). Careers in this field paid a median salary of $28,580 in 2012, per the BLS. The median salary varied by area of employment; aircraft structure assemblers earned median pay of $45,950, and electrical and electronic equipment assemblers earned median pay of $28,810, for example.
The BLS expects job opportunities for structural iron and steel workers to increase 22% during the 2012-2022 decade. In 2012, according to the BLS, structural iron and steel workers earned a median salary of $46,140.
Usually a high school diploma and on-the-job training are required to work as an assembler or fabricator. However, some employers may require an associate's degree for more complicated positions, such as those involving aircraft or vehicles.
To work as a structural iron or steel worker, you must have a high school diploma and complete an approximately 4-year apprenticeship. This apprenticeship consists of 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job paid training. Many iron worker apprenticeships are offered through iron worker unions. Not only will you learn the trade, but you'll receive safety and health training, so you'll be well prepared for any construction site hazards.
Voluntary certifications from the Fabricators and Manufacturer's Association International are available, such as the Precision Sheet Metal Operator (PSMO) certification. Many steel workers are also certified welders with the American Welding Society. Some of these certifications include Certified Welding Inspector (CWI), Senior Certified Welding Inspector (SCWI), Certified Welding Educator (CWE), Certified Welding Engineer (CWEng) and Certified Welding Supervisor.