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Become An Iron Worker

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Working As An Iron Worker

  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Stressful

  • $51,200

    Average Salary

What Does An Iron Worker Do

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

Duties

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. Although most of the work involves erecting new structures, some ironworkers may also help in the demolition, decommissioning, and rehabilitation of older buildings and bridges.

When building tall structures such as skyscrapers, structural iron and steel workers erect steel frames and assemble the cranes and derricks that move materials and equipment around the construction site. Workers connect precut steel columns, beams, and girders, using equipment such as spud wrenches and driftpins. A few ironworkers install precast walls or work with wood or composite materials.

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.

Some ironworkers are assemblers and fabricators. They fabricate metal in shops, which are usually located away from the construction site.

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How To Become An Iron Worker

Although most ironworkers learn through an apprenticeship, some learn on the job. Certifications in welding, rigging, and signaling can be helpful for new entrants.

Education

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

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 training 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.

A few groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Some programs have preferred entry for veterans. The basic qualifications required for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Physical ability to perform the work
  • Pass substance abuse screening

After completing an apprenticeship program, they are considered to be journeymen who perform tasks without direct supervision.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Certifications in welding, rigging, and crane signaling may increase a worker’s usefulness on the jobsite and result in higher pay. Many ironworkers become welders certified by the American Welding Society. Several organizations offer rigging certifications, including the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers, and the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO).

Important Qualities

Balance. Ironworkers often walk on narrow beams, so a good sense of balance is important to keep them from falling while doing their job.

Depth perception. Ironworkers must be able to judge the distance between objects and themselves in order to work safely. Ironworkers often signal crane operators who move beams and bundles of rebar.

Hand-eye coordination. Ironworkers must be able to tie rebar together quickly and precisely. An experienced worker can tie rebar together in seconds and move on to the next spot; a beginner may take much longer.

Physical stamina. Ironworkers must have physical endurance because they spend many hours performing physically demanding tasks, such as moving rebar, each day.

Physical strength. Ironworkers must be strong enough to guide heavy beams into place and tighten bolts.

Unafraid of heights. Ironworkers must not be afraid to work at great heights. For example, as they erect skyscrapers, workers must walk on narrow beams—sometimes over 50 stories high—while connecting girders.

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Iron Worker jobs

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Iron Worker Demographics

Gender

Male

93.4%

Female

5.5%

Unknown

1.1%
Ethnicity

White

80.1%

Hispanic or Latino

12.4%

Asian

6.1%

Unknown

1.0%

Black or African American

0.4%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

77.1%

Dutch

4.2%

Russian

4.2%

Swedish

2.1%

Finnish

2.1%

German

2.1%

Japanese

2.1%

Dakota

2.1%

Tagalog

2.1%

Arabic

2.1%
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Iron Worker Education

Schools

Tulsa Welding School

15.2%

University of Phoenix

9.7%

Universal Technical Institute

6.1%

Arizona Automotive Institute

5.5%

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

5.5%

Baton Rouge Community College

5.5%

Delgado Community College

4.8%

West Virginia University

4.8%

Jones County Junior College

4.8%

East Mississippi Community College

4.2%

Owens Community College

3.6%

Trident Technical College

3.6%

Del Mar College

3.6%

Houston Community College

3.6%

San Juan College

3.6%

Kaplan University

3.6%

Arkansas State University

3.0%

Mesa Community College - Boswell

3.0%

University of Maine

3.0%

Bevill State Community College

3.0%
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Majors

Precision Metal Working

28.3%

Business

10.7%

General Studies

8.6%

Automotive Technology

5.8%

Industrial Technology

4.5%

Criminal Justice

4.5%

Construction Management

4.3%

Civil Engineering

3.7%

Education

3.3%

Drafting And Design

3.2%

Engineering

3.0%

Electrical Engineering Technology

2.8%

Computer Science

2.7%

Electrical Engineering

2.7%

Heating And Air Conditioning

2.7%

Management

2.0%

Apparel And Textiles

1.9%

Kinesiology

1.8%

Graphic Design

1.8%

Accounting

1.7%
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Degrees

Other

54.6%

Associate

16.5%

Certificate

13.3%

Bachelors

10.4%

Diploma

2.8%

Masters

2.1%

License

0.3%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Real Iron Worker Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Structural Iron and Still Worker Iron Workers Local #372 Cincinnati, OH Aug 27, 2008 $53,511 -
$102,054
Iron Workers Valley Forge Iron Works, Inc. Yonkers, NY Feb 14, 2012 $50,067
Iron Worker Foreman Mid Atlantic Steel Erectors Motley, VA Aug 07, 2015 $47,466
Iron Worker Foreman Mid Atlantic Steel Erectors Motley, VA Jul 29, 2015 $47,466
Reinforcing Iron Worker Elilacon Company, Inc. LA Jan 01, 2014 $41,657
Reinforcing Iron Worker Maxum Industries, LLC. LA May 10, 2013 $39,653
Structural Iron Worker Phalanx Enterprises, Inc. Chantilly, VA Jul 20, 2009 $38,522
Structure Iron Worker PAU Construction Denton, TX Jan 01, 2016 $38,484
Structural Iron Worker Blue Point Solutions Austin, TX Apr 01, 2016 $37,942
Structure Iron Worker PAU Construction TX Jan 24, 2014 $37,900
Iron Worker Jag Premier, Inc. LA Mar 01, 2014 $37,796
Structure Iron Worker PAU Construction TX Jan 01, 2015 $37,587
Iron Worker Jag Premier, Inc. LA May 29, 2013 $37,420
Iron Worker La Jomac Group, Inc. LA Mar 26, 2014 $37,169
Structural Iron Worker Blue Point Solutions TX Mar 13, 2014 $36,815
Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Workers Tarrasco Steel Company MS Apr 14, 2014 $36,731
Reinforcing Iron Worker Genesis Steel Service Baltimore, MD Jan 29, 2008 $36,731
Iron Worker La Jomac Group, Inc. LA May 29, 2013 $36,439
Iron Worker Southland Energy Services, LLC. LA Oct 01, 2013 $36,439
Structural Iron Worker Superior Shipyard & Fabrication, Inc. LA Apr 16, 2014 $36,293
Iron Worker Mid Atlantic Steel Erectors Motley, VA Feb 02, 2016 $36,130
Iron Worker Mid Atlantic Steel Erectors Motley, VA Jan 27, 2016 $36,130
Iron Worker Mid Atlantic Steel Erectors Motley, VA Jan 15, 2016 $32,947
Iron Worker Mid Atlantic Steel Erectors Motley, VA Jan 14, 2016 $32,947
Iron Worker Mid Atlantic Steel Erectors Motley, VA Feb 02, 2016 $32,947

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Top Skills for An Iron Worker

SafetyProceduresTieRebarHandToolsSteelBeamsHeavyEquipmentLayoutAerialLiftsMIGOshaSteelBuildingsSteelFramesIronworkerJobSiteSteelGirdersArcSteelErectionPlumbBobsLaserEquipmentJLGEquipmentOperators

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Top Iron Worker Skills

  1. Safety Procedures
  2. Tie Rebar
  3. Hand Tools
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Train workers in construction methods, operation of equipment, safety procedures, and company policies.
  • Prepared footing, tie rebar, level and build form, pour and finish concrete.
  • Force structural steel members into final positions, using turnbuckles, crowbars, jacks, or hand tools.
  • Connected heavy beams (stick welded), cut steel with torches, and lifted steel beams with a crane.
  • Assemble hoisting equipment and rigging, such as cables, pulleys, and hooks, to move heavy equipment and materials.

Top Iron Worker Employers

Iron Worker Videos

So you want to be an Ironworker

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