Want to be an Iron or Steel Worker? 5 Things You Need to Know

Are you thinking about becoming an iron or steel worker? Congratulations! You are one step closer to the beginning of your career. The overall employment rate of iron and steel workers is projected to grow 11 percent from now until 2028, which is much faster than the average rate of other occupations. However, if you are still wondering if becoming an iron or steel worker is the right job for you, ask yourself the following: 

Do you have:

  • The ability to work at high altitudes?
  • Good balance?
  • Strong critical thinking skills?
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, iron and steel work may be the job for you. Here are five things you need to know to help start your career.

  1. Focus on Your Education

While you don’t need a college degree to become an iron or steel worker, a high school diploma or GED is necessary to begin your first formal apprenticeship (a requirement for most positions). While you are in school, take advantage of courses that allow you to invest in your future – math, shop, and welding may seem boring now but will be extremely valuable later in your career when calculating measurements, reading blueprints, and working with various materials.

  • Find an Apprenticeship Program

Securing a spot in an apprenticeship program should be at the very top of your priority list. The most skilled iron and steel workers have spent many hours being trained by experienced professionals while getting valuable hands-on experience of their own. Apprenticeships can take up to four years to finish; each year requires workers to earn a minimum of 144 hours of technical training and at least 2,00 hours of paid, on-site instruction.

  • Master the Sectors

Within the industry of iron and steel work, there are a number of concentrations and specialties, or “sectors,” such as structural steel, reinforcing steel, ornamental fabrication and installation, rigging and machinery moving, and welding and burning. Learning about and mastering all of these during training will increase your chances of employment.

  • Maintain Your Physical Abilities

Iron and steel work is hard. Business Insider would agree, citing it as the fifth most back-breaking job in America. Your daily tasks will be strenuous. They will include arranging steel frames and carrying buckets of concrete and lumber. Steadiness in your arms and hands as well as strength in your abdominal and lower back muscles is absolutely necessary. Consider increasing your gym routine to help you prepare for this type of work.

  • Check Local Certification Requirements

Licenses and certifications are not required in all jurisdictions but are strongly recommended. The American Welding Society (AWS) certifies most iron and steel workers in the US, according to Owl Guru. It also provides information about courses and certification exams. Earning certifications in areas such as rigging and crane signaling can help make you more attractive to prospective employers.

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