Metal fabrication is a highly specialized industry where individuals who are regarded as fabricators are expected to have extensive knowledge about metals, their properties, and how to engineer them properly. Metal fabrication has to do with the interactive vehicle and chassis evaluation, business research, welding supervision, and working with heavy equipment and large industrial structures.
There are a variety of metal fabrication jobs that can be quite lucrative. Many of these positions require a high level of skill and experience, so they tend to pay well. Here are some of the best-paying jobs in metal fabrication:
- Welding engineer – $76,970
- Ironworker – $73,650
- Boilermaker – $63,100
- Sheet metal worker – $50,400
- Structural iron and steel worker – $49,840
- Metal worker – $48,880
- Pipefitter – $46,180
- Sprinkler fitter – $45,710
- Millwright – $44,700
- Steelworker – $42,920
- Ironfoundry worker – $41,950
- Aluminum siding installer – $40,070
- Coppersmith – $39,590
- Tinsmith – $38,610
- Iron pourer and caster – $38,560
These are a handful of the various job opportunities in the metal fabrication industry. A high-paying career awaits those who possess the necessary knowledge and experience.
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Welding engineer – $76,970
A welding engineer is responsible for the design, development, and implementation of welding processes and procedures. They work with other engineers and technicians to optimize weld quality, performance, and cost-effectiveness. Welding engineers also conduct research to develop new welding techniques and technologies.
Duties of a Welding Engineer
The specific duties of a welding engineer vary depending on the employer, but there are some common duties and responsibilities associated with the role. These include:
- Designing welding processes and procedures
- Developing welding processes and procedures
- Implementing welding processes and procedures
- Optimizing weld quality, performance, and cost-effectiveness
- Conducting research to develop new welding techniques and technologies
Working Conditions of a Welding Engineer
Welding engineers typically work in office settings or laboratories. They may also travel to manufacturing plants or construction sites to observe welding operations or troubleshoot problems. Some welding engineers may be required to work in industrial settings where they are exposed to noise, fumes, and heat.
Ironworker – $73,650
Ironworkers are the backbone of the construction industry. Without them, our skyscrapers, bridges, and other steel-reliant structures would not be possible. If you’re interested in a career in metal fabrication, becoming an ironworker is a great option.
What Does an Ironworker Do?
Ironworkers are responsible for fabricating, assembling, and erecting structural steel and iron for buildings, bridges, and other structures. They use a variety of tools to cut, bend, and weld metal into the required shape. Ironworkers must be able to read and interpret blueprints so that they can understand the specifications for each project.
Most ironworkers specialize in either erection or fabrication. Erection ironworkers install prefabricated metal components on site, while fabrication ironworkers work in shops to create those components. Some common duties of both types of ironworkers include:
- Unloading and storing materials
- Cutting metal with torches or saws
- Assembling and welding metal parts
- Bolting or riveting metal pieces together
- Inspecting completed work for accuracy
Ironworkers must be physically fit as the job requires a lot of heavy lifting. They also need to be comfortable working at heights since much of the work is done on scaffolding or crane baskets.
What Are the Education Requirements?
There is no formal education requirement for becoming an ironworker. However, most employers prefer candidates who have completed an apprenticeship or have some experience working with metals. Apprenticeships typically last 3-4 years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Many trade schools also offer programs in welding or metalworking that can give you the skills you need to start your career.
How Much Do Ironworkers Make?
The median annual salary for ironworkers is $73,650.* Salaries vary depending on experience level, geographic location, and type of employer. For example, ironworkers employed by the government tend to earn more than those employed by private companies.
Boilermaker – $63,100
If you’re interested in a career in metal fabrication, you may have heard of the boilermaker trade. Boilermakers are responsible for the construction, maintenance, and repair of boilers, tanks, and other large metal containers that hold liquids and gases.
The boilermaker trade is one of the oldest trades in existence, dating back to the early days of the Industrial Revolution. Today, boilermakers are still in high demand thanks to the continued need for large metal containers in a variety of industries. If you’re thinking about becoming a boilermaker, read on to learn more about what the job entails.
Duties of a Boilermaker
The duties of a boilermaker vary depending on the specific project at hand. However, there are some common duties that all boilermakers perform on a daily basis, such as:
- Reading and interpreting blueprints or other technical drawings to determine the layout of metal components
- Cutting and shaping metal according to specifications using a variety of tools, such as torches, saws, and drills
- Assembling metal components using welding equipment or bolts
Inspecting completed work to ensure it meets quality standardsRepairing or replacing damaged or defective parts as necessary
Becoming a Boilermaker
If you’re interested in becoming a boilermaker, there are a few things you’ll need to do. First and foremost, you’ll need to complete an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship programs typically last four years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Once you’ve completed an apprenticeship program, you’ll be able to take the journeyman’s exam to earn your boilermaker certification.
Sheet metal worker – $50,400
If you’re looking for a good paying job that offers plenty of opportunity for career advancement, you may want to consider becoming a sheet metal worker. Sheet metal workers are responsible for fabricating, installing, and repairing sheet metal products. Duties include reading blueprints, measuring and cutting metal, welding, and soldering.
Most sheet metal workers start their careers by completing an apprenticeship program that lasts 4-5 years. During their apprenticeship, they receive on-the-job training as well as classroom instruction in topics such as blueprint reading, mathematics, physics, and welding. Once they have completed their apprenticeship, sheet metal workers are able to find employment in a variety of industries including construction, manufacturing, and HVAC.
The average annual salary for a sheet metal worker is $50,400. However, experienced sheet metal workers can earn upwards of $80,000 per year. The demand for sheet metal workers is expected to grow by 8% over the next 10 years. So if you’re looking for a stable career with good pay and solid job prospects, becoming a sheet metal worker is a great option to consider.
Structural iron and steel worker – $49,840
Structural iron and steel workers erect the framework for buildings, bridges, and other structures. They are responsible for putting together the skeletal supports that will ultimately hold up the weight of the finished product. This is a physically demanding job that requires a high level of skill.
The median pay for structural iron and steel workers is $49,840 per year, or $23.96 per hour. The top 10% of earners make more than $85,590 per year, while the bottom 10% make less than $29,470 per year. The duties of a structural iron and steel worker include:
- Erecting columns, beams, girders, and trusses
- Assembling prefabricated metal parts
- Bolting and welding together metal components
- Installing metal decking to form floors and ceilings
- Inspecting completed work to ensure it meets specifications
- Working with blueprints and other drawings to plan each project
Metal worker – $48,880
Metalworkers are responsible for a wide variety of tasks, from cutting and shaping metal to welding and assembling parts.
Duties of a Metalworker
Metalworkers are responsible for a variety of tasks, including:
- Cutting metal using saws, torches, or plasma cutters
- Shaping metal using hammers, presses, or bending machines
- Welding or soldering together metal parts
- Assembling fabricated metal products
- Inspecting finished products for defects
- Maintaining tools and equipment
A Typical Day on the Job A typical day on the job for a metalworker will vary depending on the specific tasks that need to be completed. However, there are some common activities that most metalworkers will perform on a daily basis. These activities include:
- Reading blueprints or schematics to determine the dimensions of the finished product
- Selecting the appropriate type of metal for the job
- Measuring and marking pieces of metal according to blueprint specifications
- Cutting, shaping, and joining pieces of metal using various tools and machines
- Inspecting finished products for defects
- Making repairs or adjustments as necessary
- Maintaining tools and equipment
Pipefitter – $46,180
A pipefitter is a skilled tradesman who installs, repairs and maintains piping systems. They are responsible for all aspects of the installation, including measuring, cutting, threading and welding pipes. Pipefitters must be able to read and interpret blueprints and diagrams in order to properly install piping systems. Many pipefitters are also responsible for installing other types of equipment, such as pumps, compressors and valves.
The job of a pipefitter is physically demanding and requires excellent hand-eye coordination. Pipefitters must be able to work in confined spaces and often have to contort their bodies into awkward positions. They also must be able to lift heavy objects and stand for long periods of time.
Pipefitters must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Many pipefitters also complete an apprenticeship program, which can last up to four years. During an apprenticeship, pipefitters learn the trade through on-the-job training and classroom instruction. After completing an apprenticeship program, pipefitters can become journeymen pipefitters. Journeymen pipefitters have completed an accredited training program and have passed an industry-recognized exam.
Sprinkler fitter – $45,710
The duties of a metal fabrication sprinkler fitter include reading blueprints or drawings in order to determine the location of pipes, valves, and other components; cutting and threading pipes using hand and power tools; assembling and connecting pipes, fittings, and other components; installing automatic sprinkler heads; testing systems to ensure proper functioning; and performing regular maintenance on sprinkler systems.
Education and Training
Most metal fabrication sprinkler fitters have completed an apprenticeship program that lasts four years. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. During their apprenticeship, sprinkler fitters learn about blueprint reading, mathematics, physics, fire science, welding, soldering, and safety. Many states require sprinkler fitters to be licensed.
The job outlook for metal fabrication sprinkler fitters is good. The median annual salary for this occupation is $45,710. The job growth rate is expected to be about as fast as the average for all occupations between now and 2026.
Millwright – $44,700
A millwright is a metal fabricator who builds, installs, and maintains machinery. The millwright trade is one of the oldest trades in the world, and it is still an important trade today. Many millwrights are employed in the manufacturing and construction industries, but they can also be found working in other industries such as mining, forestry, and agriculture.
The duties of a millwright vary depending on the specific job, but they generally involve installing and maintaining machinery. This can include anything from small machines to large industrial machines. Millwrights often work with cranes and other heavy equipment to move and install machinery. They may also be responsible for repairing and troubleshooting machinery when it breaks down.
Millwrights typically have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may require postsecondary education or training. Many millwrights learn their trade through apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship programs typically last three to four years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction.
Steelworker – $42,920
Steelworkers typically have a few different roles on a construction site. They may be responsible for cutting and welding steel beams together, assembling prefabricated metal pieces, or installing metal cladding. They use tools such as blowtorches, lasers, and plasma cutters to cut metal. They also use cranes and other heavy machinery to move pieces of metal around the construction site.
Steelworkers typically work outdoors in all weather conditions. They often work long hours, including nights and weekends. The job can be physically demanding and dangerous; steelworkers may be exposed to loud noise, toxic fumes, and falling objects.
The median annual salary for a steelworker is $42,920. The top 10% of earners make more than $80,390 per year while the bottom 10% earn less than $23,430 per year. most steelworkers are members of a union and have access to health insurance and retirement benefits.
Ironfoundry worker – $41,950
An ironfoundry worker is responsible for operating and maintaining iron foundries. Iron foundries are used to melt and cast iron and other metals. Ironfoundry workers are responsible for loading raw materials into furnaces, operating casting machines, and removing finished products from molds.
They also perform quality control checks on finished products. Ironfoundry workers must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some jobs may require certification from the American Foundry Society. Most ironfoundry workers learn on the job through apprenticeship programs.
Aluminum siding installer – $40,070
Aluminum siding installers are responsible for installing aluminum siding on homes and businesses. The job requires a high level of precision and attention to detail, as even the smallest mistake can result in an unsightly finish. Aluminum siding installers must be able to follow specifications and blueprints to ensure that the finished product meets all safety and aesthetic requirements.
Aluminum siding installation is a physically demanding job that requires a high degree of accuracy and attention to detail. Installers must be able to lift heavy sheets of aluminum siding and must have good balance to avoid injury while working at heights. Most importantly, installers must be able to follow instructions carefully to ensure that the finished product meets all safety and aesthetic requirements.
Coppersmith – $39,590
The duties of a metal fabrication Coppersmith can vary depending on the size and scope of the project you are working on. However, there are some general duties that all Coppersmiths will perform. These include:
- Reading and interpreting blueprints or other technical drawings to determine the correct dimensions and tolerances for the finished product
- Selecting the appropriate type of metal for the job at hand, based on factors such as strength, durability, and resistance to heat or corrosion
- Cutting metal using saws, shears, or torches to achieve the desired shape or size
- Joining pieces of metal together using welding, brazing, or soldering techniques
- Finishing the surface of the metal using grinding, sanding, or polishing techniques
Tinsmith – $38,610
Tinsmiths are responsible for fabricating, assembling, and repairing sheet metal products. These products can include everything from HVAC ductwork to rain gutters to foodservice equipment. Tinsmiths use a variety of tools to cut, shape, and join sheet metal, including hand tools like hammers and chisels as well as power tools like shears and routers.
Tinsmiths must be able to read and follow blueprints or other drawings in order to create products that meet the specifications given. They also need to be able to calculate dimensions and tolerances. In some cases, tinsmiths may need to weld or solder pieces together.
Tinsmiths typically work in shops or on construction sites. They may work independently or as part of a team. When working on construction sites, tinsmiths may need to climb ladders or scaffolding in order to reach their work area.
Most tinsmiths learn their trade through an apprenticeship program that lasts three or four years. During their apprenticeship, tinsmiths learn safety procedures, blueprint reading, tool usage, and other skills necessary for the job. Many states require tinsmiths to be licensed journeymen before they can work independently.
Tinsmiths typically earn an hourly wage of $18-$25. With experience, they can earn up to $38 per hour. Tinsmiths who are self-employed or who own their own business can earn even more than this.
Iron pourer and caster – $38,560
Iron pourers and casters typically have the following duties:
- Operate furnaces to melt metal
- Pour molten metal into molds
- Inspect products for defects
- Package products for shipment
- Maintain safety equipment and cleanliness in the work area
Employment of iron pourers and casters is projected to decline 9 percent from 2019 to 2029. Competition from iron and steel imports is expected to contribute to the decline in employment. Employment opportunities should be best for those who have completed an apprenticeship or have experience working with iron casting.