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What Do Ironworkers Do?

Ironworkers are key players in the construction of buildings, bridges, and other structures. Famous landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge and the St. Louis Arch were created with the aid and expertise of ironworkers. Ironwork breaks down into two categories: structural iron and steel work, and reinforcing iron and rebar work. Structural iron and steel workers erect the frames of buildings by assembling pre-cut steel beams and columns. Reinforcing iron and rebar workers create supports for concrete using a variety of methods. 1

Are Ironworkers in a Union?

The International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers Union is the largest organized union of ironworkers in the North America. Members of the ironworkers union have access to benefits that non-union ironworkers do not enjoy. Perhaps the most significant benefit of a union job is the collective bargaining agreement that results in higher pay and better health care and retirement plans as well as safer working conditions. The ironworkers union also provides access to training opportunities, members-only discounts, and job listings. 2

What Tools to Ironworkers Use?

Ironworkers use a variety of tools in the course of their work. Small tools, such as wrenches, strikers, hammers, and safety goggles are commonly used. Sometimes construction companies even require ironworkers to bring their own basic tools to job sites. 3 Welding equipment may be used, as well as large machinery such as cranes.

What Is an Ironworker Apprentice?

An apprenticeship is the most comprehensive form of training for aspiring iron workers. Unlike students at college or vocational school programs, apprentice ironworkers earn a living while learning about their chosen industry-usually half of what a fully qualified ironworker would earn. Apprentice wages go up as the apprentice puts in more hours and acquires more skills. At the end of an apprenticeship, the apprentice becomes a journeyman ironworker, qualified to take jobs and receive full pay. 4

What Are Growing Ironworker Jobs?

Jobs in the ironwork profession are growing rapidly, especially those includingiron reinforcement and rebar work. Workers with certifications in crane signaling, welding, and rigging will have good job prospects. Ironwork tends to be relatively steady, but the economy can impact the amount of work available as demand for construction work rises and falls. 5

How Do You Become an Ironworker?

The traditional path to becoming an ironworker is through an apprenticeship, although individuals with certifications in rigging, signaling, 6 and welding could learn how to be an ironworker on the job. Ironworker apprenticeships last three or four years and teach apprentice iron workers how to use the tools of the trade, manipulate rebar and metal, read blueprints, and other useful skills. To qualify for an apprenticeship program, candidates must be at least 18 years old, have a high school or general equivalency diploma, and be physically capable of performing hard physical labor. 7

What Is an Ironworker's Salary?

The salary for an ironworker depends on experience in ironwork, welding, rigging, and signaling, education and training, union membership, and location.

Top 8 Jobs Similar to Ironworker

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Below are alternative career paths for Ironworker jobs with percentages representing overlap in skills for Ironworker jobs. If you’ve already mastered the skills required to be a Ironworker, then one of the jobs below could be the next career move for you!

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