How to Become a Metal Worker

Metal Worker Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $43,530
Avg. Pay / hour $20.93
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 8%

Metal Workers are part of the industrial sector specializing in the handling of metal in order to create a variety of structures.

Metal Workers can also be referred to as Ironworkers.

These professionals work on a variety of projects that require the installation of metal.

Metal Workers can lend their expertise in a variety of professions working in construction, manufacturing or in structural and reinforcing metal specialties.

People who want to become a Metal Worker probably know that this profession requires a lot of physical work and the ability to work well with your hands.

If you feel you would enjoy this type of work, there are many objects you can help build or repair.

Depending on the area you work, you would be responsible for helping create many types of structures, buildings and appliances that require the installation of metal.

People who want to become a Metal Worker may also want to know about an important aspect in this profession.

Metal Workers must adhere to safety protocols and must use precautions in order to reduce non fatal accidents.

This type of profession has one of the highest non fatal injury rates and workers have to follow safety protocol in order to keep themselves and others safe.

Metal Workers can also specialize in several sectors and can include the following professions:

  • Construction Metal Workers
  • Structural and Reinforcement Metal Workers
  • Sheet Metal Workers
  • Jewelry and Precious Metal Workers

Education Requirements to Become a Metal Worker

People who want to become a Metal Worker can find a many ways to join this profession.

The minimum requirement in order to be considered for this type of work is a high school diploma or its equivalent.

Some employers will hire candidates who are at least 18 years of age and will provide resources to train them on the job.

These candidates can get a job out of high school and then learn how to install and repair metal work by gaining experience and learning from a more skilled professional.

However, many employers are more likely to consider a candidate who has completed an apprenticeship program.

Some apprenticeship programs take about three to four years to complete and some pay apprentices as they complete the program.

Metal Worker Job Description

Metal Workers can build, install and repair many types of structures and appliances.

Below are some common types of projects that Metal Workers can help make and install which can depend on the specialty a candidate wishes to work in.

Metal Workers can help make, install or repair:

  • Jewelry
  • Roofing
  • Outdoor signs
  • Gutters
  • Air conditioning ducts
  • Heaters
  • Ventilation
  • Railroad cars
  • Skylines
  • Restaurant equipment
  • Steel Girders or Columns for buildings, bridges, tunnels or other large structures

Metal Workers in construction would help with the manipulation and installation of metal in order to create, install and provide maintenance to ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems.

They would also provide their skills to install and provide maintenance to rain gutters, siding, skylights, restaurant equipment, roofing and other products made from steel metal.

Iron or Metal Workers in the Structural or Reinforcing sector perform heavy work in order to help create large structures such as buildings, bridges or tunnels.

Metal Workers who work with jewelry will design, create and repair several types of trinkets.

They will use materials such as gold, silver or other precious metals.

They will also set stones and cast metal molds in order to make fine jewelry.

Sheet Metal Workers can be a part of construction or manufacturing industries and handle ventilation, heating, air conditioning, roofing or railroad cars.

They are responsible for creating, installing and repairing or providing maintenance work for the special equipment they handle.

Metal Worker Salary and Career Path

The job growth rate for all Metal Workers is expected to grow by about 6% until the year 2016.

This rate is considered low when compared to other professions.

Metal Workers in construction are expected to have the most optimistic job outlook out of all Metal Worker professions.

The national median wage for all Metal Workers is approximately $19 per hour.

The salary range for this professions is from $11 to $35 dollars.

Exact wages will depend on the specialty, years of experience and the regional location.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
New Hampshire$36,510
New Jersey$40,570
New Mexico$38,010
New York$43,970
North Carolina$45,670
Rhode Island$29,270
South Carolina$41,660
Puerto Rico$21,510

The top earning state in the field is Oklahoma, where the average salary is $52,360.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Oklahoma - $52,360
Massachusetts - $50,570
Kansas - $47,770
Virginia - $46,290
North Carolina - $45,670
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Metal Workers and Plastic Workers, OCC Code 51-4199, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a metal worker do?

Metal workers cut, join, cast, roll and drill metal.

They can work in construction, factories, refineries, shipyards, or manufacturing plants.

As a metal worker, you need to know how to weld, drill, apply heat treatments, and use robots or computer-controlled machines for more intricate work.

Depending on your job description, you can work with sheet metal, meaning thin steel or aluminum for air conditioning systems, metal roofs or gutters.

You may also use computer-controlled machines for cutting, pressing, bending metals in factories and large-scale manufacturing establishments.

As daily duties, you will measure and mark metal sheets, drill holes, fabricate parts for construction sites, fasten pieces of metal by bolting them, welding or siding them.

In order to be able to perform the above tasks, you will need attention to detail, dexterity, technical skills and physical strength.

How much does a metal worker make?

As a metal worker, you can earn anywhere between less than $30,000 and more than $85,000 a year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for sheet metal workers was $48,460 in May 2018.

How much does it cost to become a metal worker?

There are no formal educational requirements for metal workers.

You can learn your trade on the job or you can enroll at a technical school that has programs for welding and metalworking.

Tuition costs vary widely depending on the school and the type of program you choose.

For example, welding classes can cost anywhere between less than $5000 and more than $15,000.

In order to improve your job prospects, you should consider applying for a certification from the American Welding Society or International Training Institute for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Industry.

What is the demand for metal workers?

According to the BLS, employment of sheet metal workers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

As the demand for energy-efficient air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems grows, the demand for metal workers is also expected to grow.

How long does it take to become a metal worker?

There are no formal educational requirements for metal workers but some employers may prefer candidates who have completed some post-secondary training in the field.

Usually a high school diploma or equivalent is sufficient to qualify you for an apprenticeship or for enrollment at a technical school.

An apprenticeship can usually be completed in 4-5 years and combines technical instruction with on-the-job hands-on training.

Programs at trade schools or technical schools can usually be completed in 1-2 years, depending on the program you choose.

If you know that you want to become a metal worker it’s a good idea to take courses in geometry and algebra and vocational courses like welding, blueprint reading, and mechanical drawing during high school.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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