Ironworkers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
A high school diploma or equivalent is generally required. Courses in math, as well as training in vocational subjects such as blueprint reading and welding, can be particularly useful.
Training Required
Most ironworkers learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Nearly all apprenticeship programs teach both reinforcing and structural ironworking. On the job, apprentices learn to use the tools and equipment of the trade; handle, measure, cut, and lay rebar; and construct metal frameworks. In technical training, they are taught mathematics, blueprint reading and sketching, general construction techniques, safety practices, and first aid.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 13% (Faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Licenses/Certifications
Certifications in welding, rigging, and crane signaling may increase a worker’s usefulness on the jobsite. Several organizations provide certifications for different aspects of ironworkers’ jobs. For example, the American Welding Society offers welding certification, and several organizations offer rigging certifications, including the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.
Median pay: How much do Ironworkers make?
$50,830 Annual Salary
$24.44 per hour

Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges, and roads.

What do Ironworkers do?

Ironworkers typically do the following:

  • Read and follow blueprints, sketches, and other instructions
  • Unload and stack prefabricated iron and steel so that it can be lifted with slings
  • Signal crane operators who lift and position structural and reinforcing iron and steel
  • Use shears, rod-bending machines, and welding equipment to cut, bend, and weld the structural and reinforcing iron and steel
  • Align structural and reinforcing iron and steel vertically and horizontally, using tag lines, plumb bobs, lasers, and levels
  • Connect iron and steel with bolts, wire, or welds

Structural and reinforcing iron and steel are important components of buildings, bridges, roads, and other structures. Even though the primary metal involved in this work is steel, workers often are known as ironworkers or erectors. Most of the work involves erecting new structures, but some ironworkers may also help in the demolition, decommissioning, and rehabilitation of older buildings and bridges.

Careers for Ironworkers

  • Bridge ironworkers
  • Construction ironworkers
  • Erectors
  • Iron guardrail installers
  • Metal tank erectors
  • Ornamental ironworkers
  • Post tensioning ironworkers
  • Pre-engineered metal building ironworkers
  • Precast concrete ironworkers
  • Rebar workers
  • Reinforcing iron and rebar workers
  • Reinforcing steel workers
  • Rodbusters
  • Steel fabricators
  • Steel fitters
  • Steel rod busters
  • Steel tiers
  • Structural iron and steel workers
  • Structural steel erectors
  • Wind turbine erectors

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