Ironworker

Learn what ironworkers do and what specializations are available within the field. Find out what the employment outlook is for this career, and learn what training you will need to complete.

Is Becoming an Ironworker for Me?

Job Description

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 able to work with little or no fear of heights.

Specializations

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.

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of structural iron and steel workers is expected to increase 22% between 2012 and 2022; a 4% employment increase is predicted for assemblers and fabricators (www.bls.gov). As for earning potential in the field, structural iron and steel workers earned median pay of $46,520 as of May 2013, according to the BLS. Assemblers of aircraft structures, surfaces, rigging and other systems earned median pay of $47,330, and structural metal fabricators and fitters made a median wage of $36,370 that year, noted the BLS.

How Can I Become an Ironworker?

Education and Training Options

You may be able to start a career in ironworking by completing 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.

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