Find In Demand Jobs as a Professional Iron Worker

Are you looking for an industry you can get into quickly that pays well? Learn why a job as an iron worker may be right for you.

As of 2021 in the United States, there is a wide gap between the number of trade skill workers available and the trade positions that are not filled, according to NPR, a popular news source. Many students are opting to pursue traditional college degrees for positions such as working in business offices. However, if you are skilled with tools, you might wish to take the path of a skilled tradesperson. Available positions for tradespeople include such jobs as plumbers, electricians, and construction workers. If you are looking for a career where jobs are prevalent that you can start quickly, learning a trade skill is a great option. 

Within the construction field, one of the best jobs to pursue is that of an iron worker or general metal worker. An iron worker is a tradesperson who helps construct or repair buildings and other structures requiring metal frameworks or supports. If you obtain a job as an iron worker, it is your task to create such structures based on plans and blueprints supplied by architects. If that sounds like a career you want, your next step is to figure out the skills you need and where to apply for such a job. You also need to know how much you can expect to earn in the field. That information is provided below.

The Current Market for Iron Workers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists the average pay for an iron worker in 2020 as $53,210 annually, or  $25,58 per hour. There were 95,900 jobs for iron workers throughout the United States in 2019, and that number is projected to increase by five percent by 2029. Each of those statistics may make getting a job as an iron worker appealing to you. You can rest assured work is always available for iron workers. You can also start earning money from a young age, if you forego higher education in favor of entering the iron worker trade. 

Education of an Iron Worker

If you want a job as an iron worker, the highest level of traditional education you need is a high school diploma. However, you may need some sort of background in working with wood and metal, such as completion of a high school shop class. Also consider enrolling in a trade school that specifically teaches metalworking. Such classes can teach you valuable skills. A potential employer is also more likely to hire you if you have graduated from a trade school.

An alternative to a trade school is applying for an apprenticeship as an iron worker. An iron worker apprenticeship often lasts for around three years. However, it is possible for one to last for up to five years. Some apprenticeships are unpaid. Others are paid positions. 

It is possible to get a job as an iron worker with no trade school or apprenticeship experience. As long as you are at least 18 years of age and hold a high school diploma or GED you have the potential to get into the field. Some iron working positions include on-the-job training, but such positions are sometimes hard to find. Having a background in metal work allows you to apply for all iron worker positions, even if on-the-job training is not provided. 

Skills, and Traits of an Iron Worker

You might think being an iron worker only requires the ability to work with power tools, but that is not true. As an iron worker, you must also work with multiple mediums, including wood and cement. Additionally, you must have skills and traits like: 

  • Physical Strength

  • Good Balance

  • No Fear of Heights

  • No Fear of Enclosed or Wide Open Spaces (You May Work in Both)

  • Ability to Work on a Team

  • Willingness to Travel

  • Critical Thinking Skills

  • Ability to Work Well Under Pressure or During Emergencies 

Finding a Job as an Iron Worker Through a Specialized Apprenticeship

Before seeking a job as an iron worker, consider whether you want to specialize. You can become a general iron worker or specialize in a specific field of iron working, such as welding and fabricating, Many specialist apprenticeships provide immediate ongoing work when the apprenticeships end. Additionally, specializing can help you advance your long-term iron working career goals. For instance, you might start as a technician and quickly work your way up to a position as a general contractor.

The Iron Workers Directory of Training Centers

If you are wondering about other ways to get a job as an iron worker, another good place to start is by looking at the Iron Workers Directory of Training Centers, which is available online. It is a list maintained by the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers. That list covers the United States and Canada. It provides contact information lie email addresses and telephone numbers for each training facility in every U.S. state and Canadian province. Some training centers receive a high volume of contacts, so you must follow up if you do not hear back soon after you initially contact the facility closest to you.

Local Fabrication Shops

Depending on the area in which you live, you may have several local metal fabrication shops nearby. Any shop where welding or metalwork is done might have a job opening for you. However, such shops typically have specialty niches. Be prepared for the work you do in such a shop to be on a small scale. If you are becoming an iron worker so you can help construct or repair big city skyscrapers, do not apply at small local fabrication shops. However, starting out in such a shop might be perfect for you if you want a career in small-scale metal fabrication. You might even eventually start a small shop of your own.

Other Sources for Iron Worker Jobs

Iron worker and metal worker jobs are varied and unique. The same is true of the ways in which you can find those jobs. If you live in a large city, simply stopping by a construction site and inquiring about open positions is an option. Another option is you can register with a staffing company that specializes in connecting tradespeople with companies requiring their skills. No matter where you live, you can also find plenty of iron worker jobs listed on various popular job search websites, such as Indeed.