Reinforcing iron and rebar workers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Reinforcing iron and rebar workers use one of three different materials to support concrete:

  • Reinforcing steel (rebar) is used to strengthen the concrete that forms highways, buildings, bridges, and other structures. These workers are sometimes called rod busters, in reference to rods of rebar.
  • Cables are used to reinforce concrete by pre- or post-tensioning. These techniques allow designers to create larger open areas in a building because supports can be placed farther apart. As a result, pre- and post-tensioning are commonly used to construct arenas, concrete bridges, and parking garages.
  • Welded wire reinforcing (WWR) is also used to strengthen concrete. This reinforcing is made up of narrow-diameter rods or wire welded into a grid.

Structural metal fabricators and fitters manufacture metal products in shops, usually located away from construction sites.

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.)
Certifications in welding, rigging, and crane signaling may increase a workers 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

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 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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