Ironworker

Industry:
Construction
Last Updated:
September 19, 2023

Job Description Overview

Ironworker job description: An ironworker is a skilled construction worker who plays an essential role in building large structures like bridges, high-rise buildings, and stadiums. They are responsible for installing and fixing metal framework, reinforcing bars, and supports necessary to secure steel beams, concrete floorings, and walls. An ironworker uses various tools to fabricate metal pieces, such as welding equipment, grinders, and saws. They work both indoors and outdoors, often at great heights and in all weather conditions, making safety a priority. Ironworkers can specialize in specific areas, such as structural steel, metal decking, or ornamental ironwork. To become an ironworker, a high school diploma or equivalent is required, and a four-year apprenticeship program that includes on-the-job training and classroom instruction is typical. Strong physical health, good hand-eye coordination, and an ability to work in a team environment are essential qualities of a successful ironworker.

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Job Duties and Responsibilities

  • Install and erect steel structures such as buildings, bridges, and towers
  • Read blueprints, sketches, and specifications to determine project requirements
  • Use various hand and power tools to fabricate and assemble steel components
  • Secure steel structures to foundations, floors, and walls using bolts, welds, or rivets
  • Operate cranes and other heavy equipment to lift and position steel components
  • Work at heights, often on ladders or scaffolding, while wearing safety harnesses and equipment
  • Follow safety protocols and regulations to ensure a safe work environment
  • Communicate with team members and project managers to coordinate work activities
  • Maintain and repair steel structures as needed
  • Use computer software to design and create steel components and structures as needed.

Experience and Education Requirements

To become an Ironworker in the Construction industry, it is generally expected that you have completed high school and possess basic math and reading skills. Welding and blueprint reading knowledge and experience are also important, as well as physical strength and dexterity. Apprenticeship programs are the most common path to becoming an Ironworker, which typically takes three to four years to complete. During that time, apprentices learn on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Union membership is recommended to access better job opportunities and receive additional training. Field experience is also vital, as Ironworkers often work with cranes, lifts, and other machinery to lift and position heavy materials.

Salary Range

Ironworker salary range varies by location, experience, and type of project. In the United States, the expected salary range for an Ironworker is $33,000 to $100,000 per year, with an average of $60,000 per year. The lowest-paid Ironworkers make less than $21,000 a year, while the highest-paid ones earn over $112,000 a year, depending on location and experience. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for Ironworkers in the United States is $56,970. 

In Canada, the expected salary range for an Ironworker is CAD 22,000 to CAD 110,000 per year. In Australia, Ironworkers earn between AU$49,000 to AU$100,000 per year. However, factors such as site location, experience, and job responsibilities can significantly impact salary range. Ironworkers working in metropolitan areas generally earn more than their rural counterparts. 

Sources: 

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/
  • Indeed, https://www.indeed.com/salaries/ironworker-Salaries
  • Salary Expert, https://www.salaryexpert.com/salary/ironworker/australia

Career Outlook

Ironworkers are skilled workers who install and reinforce structural steel frames in buildings, bridges, and other large structures. In the next five years, the career outlook for ironworkers is expected to grow by 11% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations due to the high demand for infrastructure projects such as airports, bridges, and highways, and the need to replace aging infrastructure. Ironworkers must have experience and knowledge of various welding techniques, steel fabrication, and rigging to succeed in this field. As a result, the ironworker trade is not easily automated, and job opportunities are expected to remain steady for the next five years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What does an Ironworker do in the Construction industry? 

A: An Ironworker is responsible for the installation and maintenance of metal infrastructure in buildings, bridges and other structures. This includes steel fabrication, rigging, welding, bolting and riveting metal pieces together. 

Q: What type of education or training is required to become an Ironworker? 

A: Ironworkers often learn on the job through apprenticeships, but a high school diploma or equivalent is required. Completion of a vocational or trade school program in ironworking, welding or metalworking is also beneficial. 

Q: What are the physical demands of being an Ironworker? 

A: Ironworking is a physically demanding job that often requires working at great heights, in cramped spaces, and outdoors in all types of weather. It includes lifting, bending, and carrying heavy metal pieces, often weighing over 50 pounds. 

Q: What are the work hours like for an Ironworker? 

A: The job of an Ironworker often requires working long hours and irregular schedules, depending on the project requirements, deadlines, and weather. This can include working nights, weekends, holidays, and overtime as needed. 

Q: What are the job prospects for Ironworkers? 

A: The job prospects for Ironworkers are quite good. The construction industry is expected to grow in coming years, increasing the demand for skilled Ironworkers. Ironworkers can earn a good wage, and they often have opportunities to advance into supervisory or management roles.


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