How To Become An Ironworker
Career Video: Ironworker
Ironworkers install iron and steel in buildings. These materials help support buildings, bridges, and more. An ironworker has an amazing attention to detail and loves working with their hands. They enjoy working on projects. This is an occupation that involves some risk. An ironworker will feel good knowing that their hard work has paid off and created something useful. This is a good job for somebody who is physically fit and strong, enjoys working on projects, and likes working with iron.
Why Become An Ironworker
Iron is one of the basic materials that we have. Iron is used as an essential resource for building. Whether it is a school, a factory, or a skyscraper, many of the buildings that make up our cities and towns are built with iron and steel.
An ironworker is a type of construction worker who specializes in iron. They help install iron into the necessary frameworks of buildings. An ironworker reads a blueprint to understand the building and the project at hand. They unload and carry iron and steel around the job site. They use equipment such as shears, rod-bending machines, and welding equipment in order to cut the iron into the exact specifications. They move the iron and steel where it needs to be, and connect it with bolts or by welding it into place.
There are three main types of ironworkers: reinforcing, structural, and ornamental. A reinforcing ironworker (also known as a rodbuster) takes reinforcing bars and makes structures based on a certain design and framework. The structural ironworkers make iron frames, assemble the equipment, cranes and other materials around the construction site. Ornamental ironworkers install windows into buildings, and create window wall systems. These are all ironworkers, but they all have different responsibilities and specialties when on the job site.
If you enjoy working with iron and steel, if you are good at working with your hands and love working on projects, then a career as an ironworker might be perfect for you.
Ironworkers must possess the following qualities and skills:
- Physically fit
- Willing to work at tall heights
- Hand-eye coordination
- Manual dexterity
- Attention to detail
Ironworker Work Environment
Ironworkers work outside in most types of weather. Some work at great heights. It is important that an ironworker is not afraid of heights and is physically fit, able to move around and carry heavy materials within the confines of a small space. Structural ironworkers will not work during icy, windy or wet weather conditions, due to the nature of their job being at such great heights. There is an element of risk involved in this occupation. Many ironworkers suffer injuries each year; many work-related deaths occur as well. This occurs when ironworkers fall or suffer injuries with equipment. Great care and safety precautions must be taken in this position. There is a lot of teamwork involved in this profession. Very few ironworkers are self-employed. Almost all ironworkers work full time.
The median annual salary for ironworkers was $47,600 in 2016, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.
There are several factors that go into determining salary for ironworkers. There are many industries that a person may work in. Workers who choose a position in structural iron and steel may earn more money. Experience is very important in this field. An ironworker who has years of experience may earn more money than an apprentice ironworker. Most ironworkers belong to a union.
Ironworker Career Outlook
Employment for ironworkers is expected to increase by nine percent from 2014 to 2024, which is about average compared to other occupations within the United States.
Job opportunities may vary depending on the specialty that a person is involved in. Reinforcing iron and rebar workers will have the most employment growth, with up to a 23 percent increase in employment. Structural iron and steel workers, meanwhile, will face only a four percent change in employment. The career outlook in this field depends on which specialty a person is looking for a position in.
If you would like to become an ironworker, continue reading below for more information.
Step 1: High school diploma. A high school education is required to work as an ironworker. In high school you will take foundational classes in math, reading and writing. These will prepare you for a career as an ironworker. A college education is not necessary to become an ironworker.
Step 2: Apprenticeship. Ironworkers must complete an apprenticeship in their field. The apprenticeship takes approximately three to four years to complete. Each year, ironworkers must complete 144 hours of training and 2000 hours of paid on-the-job work. All apprenticeships teach both reinforcing and structural ironworking. During the apprenticeship, students will learn how to use equipment properly. They will learn how to measure, cut, and lay iron rebar. They will learn how to construct metal frames. They will learn how to read a blueprint. These are a few of the basic techniques taught in the courses.