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Sheet Metal Worker


Sheet metal is used for a variety of things in our daily lives, from the structures we live and work in, to the equipment used to control the temperature inside of it, and beyond. So many industries hire highly trained sheet metal workers, making this a very diversified skilled trade to be a part of. If you’re thinking about heading into this skilled trade, then read on to find out more!

What A Sheet Metal Worker Does

As a sheet metal worker, you’ll find jobs with construction sites, manufacturing plants, and at metal shops. If you are a beginner and do not have the necessary skills, then you’ll be able to find work in a factory where you’ll start from the basics and learn your way up the ladder. What you do will depend on where you’re employed. Typically, sheet metal workers’ daily tasks are:

  • Study plans and/or blueprints in order to determine and choose the proper metal sheets.
  • Measure and mark out lines and dimensions using tape measures or another type of measuring device.
  • Drill holes in appropriate places for bolts, screws, etc.
  • Use specialized equipment, or your hands.
  • Use equipment to determine how accurate your measurements are prior to assembling any product.
  • Assemble according to laid-out instructions.

You’ll work the typical 40 hour week, or longer. There will be a lot of lifting, bending, and maneuvering of your body. You’ll be in somewhat dangerous situations, so it’s a good idea to know the best practices when it comes to workplace safety.

How To Become A Sheet Metal Worker

While there is not a high level of education required to sheet metal working, there are many who have a certificate or diploma, minimally. To become a sheet metal worker, you need to follow a certain path:

  • While in high school, bulk up on your math classes, and look into a vocational education program offered through many school districts.
  • Get your high school diploma or GED.
  • You can either enroll in a sheet metal work program with a trade school.
  • OR, you can find an apprenticeship through a company or union. These last 4-5 years, but you’ll earn as you learn, which is always the benefit of an apprenticeship.
  • Qualifications for becoming an apprentice are: 18 years old with a high school diploma.
  • If you aren’t taught welding in any of your programs, you may want to take a couple courses to learn the skill.
  • Optional certifications are available: The American Welding Society offers a certified welder certification. Through the International Training Institute for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Industry you can get a certification in building information modeling (BIM), welding, testing and balancing, and other related certifications. And there is also the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, which offers a certification in precision sheet metal work.

Types Of Sheet Metal Workers

As mentioned earlier, this is a rather diverse trade. Many different industries hire sheet metal workers, particularly those who specialize in that industry.

  • Fabrication sheet metal worker: Also called precision sheet metal workers, you will be one of the people actually making the metal sheets for a variety of different industries.
  • Installation sheet metal worker: You install sheet metal for HVAC, roofing, siding, gutters, and other construction-type projects.
  • Maintenance sheet metal worker: You’ll do the upkeep and maintenance on ductwork systems.
  • Testing and balance sheet metal specialist: You’ll test the airflow on HVAC systems to ensure they’re running properly.

Salary And Job Outlook For Sheet Metal Workers

As an apprentice sheet metal worker, you can expect to earn about half of what your boss is earning. They make right around $49,000 annually, but apprentices will make less than $27,000 to start. The more you level up with your skill, so will your coin. That goes for both an apprentice and a full-fledged sheet metal worker. The top ten percent of skilled workers in this trade are earning a median salary of close to $90,000 per year. The highest paying industries for sheet metal workers are the government and specialty trade contractors.

Employment outlook remains strong through 2026, with 12,000 new jobs opening during that time. Growth is due to older workers aging out and retiring, making way for the younger set to replace them.