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Structural and Reinforcing Iron and Metal Workers Job Description, Career as a Structural and Reinforcing Iron and Metal Workers, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Formal training

Salary: Median— $19.46 per hour

Employment Outlook: Good

Structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers are involved in installing iron and metal components that are used in the construction of skyscrapers, large industrial facilities, bridges, and other buildings. They are also responsible for the maintenance and repair of old structures.

Structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers work with beams, pillars, and other iron and steel supports. They are a key part of construction projects and basically put up the initial steel framework. To do this, they use a wide range of machines like bulldozers and cranes, as well as welding and riveting tools. The job of creating this framework also entails detailed study and understanding of blueprints.

Workers in this occupation are commonly known as ironworkers, even though the primary metal they use is steel. They can specialize in various areas, and are capable of performing different jobs. For instance, reinforcing iron and rebar workers specialize in installing reinforcing bars into concrete. On the other hand, ornamental ironworkers primarily handle the installing of handrails, stairs, curtain walls, and other such metal products once the basic construction of a building is complete.

Education and Training Requirements

A number of apprenticeship programs are available for structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers. Though there are no strict educational requirements for entering the profession, it is beneficial to opt for a certification course in areas like welding and rigging. Apprenticeship programs are also a good option since these last for about 3 to 4 years and include classroom instruction as well as on-the-job training. The International Association of Bridge, the Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, as well as various contractors’ associations offer such programs.

Entry-level ironworkers are assigned the less complex duties, while those with experience are responsible for handling difficult tasks. In addition to educational achievements, one also needs to pick up the skills while on the job.

Getting the Job

For information on job openings, one can get in touch with the various ironworkers’ union management committees. Interested candidates can directly approach local general contractors for jobs. Also, apprenticeship agencies and the state employment service offices offer job-related information.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

With experience, ironworkers can be promoted to supervisory positions. Those starting out in the profession would do well to have certifications. There are various kinds of certifications to choose from. The best qualification to obtain is completion of an apprenticeship program, which confers status as a journeyman worker. Also, the American Welding Society provides a welder certification. These qualifications prove to be extremely helpful in career advancement.

Employment opportunities for ironworkers are expected to increase by 8% in the next decade. Occupational growth is influenced to a large extent by both geographic locations and seasons. Those in the South and West are likely to have better opportunities. Also, employment increases significantly during spring and summer months.

Working Conditions

Due to the nature of their jobs, structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers have to work in all kinds of weather conditions. A large part of the work is done outdoors, and at times, one may have to work at great heights. Consequently, ironworkers are prone to physical injuries like cuts and bruises. However, a number of safety devices like scaffolding and harnesses are used in order to decrease risk.

Where to Go for More Information

International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers
1750 New York Avenue NW, Ste. 400
Washington, DC 20006

United Steelworkers of America
Five Gateway Center
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Associated General Contractors of America
2300 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 400
Arlington, VA 22201

Associated Builders and Contractors, Workforce Development Department
4250 North Fairfax Dr., 9th Floor
Arlington, VA 22203

Earnings and Benefits

As per research in May 2006, the median hourly salary of structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers, including entry-level and apprentice workers, was $19.46. Earnings vary from one industry to the other. Reinforcing iron and rebar workers reported median hourly salaries of $18.38, while those employed by foundation, and building exterior contractors earned about $20.54 per hour. The wages are highest for those working in large cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia.

Structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers receive regular benefits like paid leaves and health insurance.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesConstruction & Skilled Trades