Ironworkers are responsible for constructing, installing, and maintaining structural steel buildings, bridges, towers, and other structures. They work in various settings, including construction sites, factories, and fabrication shops.
Ironworkers must have physical strength, stamina, and coordination to perform their duties and be comfortable working at heights and in adverse weather conditions. Here are five things you should know if you are looking for a career as an ironworker.
1. Ironworking Is Physically Demanding
Ironworking is a physically challenging job that requires a lot of strength and stamina. Ironworkers must be able to lift heavy materials, such as steel beams, and work in awkward positions for extended periods.
They must also be able to climb ladders and work at heights of up to several hundred feet. The work is often outdoors, and ironworkers must be able to work in suboptimal weather conditions, such as extreme heat or cold.
2. Ironworkers Must Be Safety-Conscious
Working as an ironworker is inherently dangerous, and safety must be a top priority. Ironworkers must be trained in safety procedures and must follow safety guidelines at all times. They must wear protective equipment, such as hard hats, safety glasses, and steel-toed boots, and be able to identify and avoid hazards on the job site.
Ironworkers must also be able to work as part of a team to ensure that everyone on the job site is working safely.
3. Ironworking Requires Specialized Training
Ironworking requires specialized training, and most ironworkers complete an apprenticeship scheme lasting three to four years. Apprenticeship schemes combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training, and apprentices learn various skills, including reading blueprints, welding, rigging, and operating heavy machinery. Labor unions or contractor associations typically sponsor apprenticeships, and apprentices are paid for their work while they learn.
4. Ironworking Offers Good Pay and Benefits
Ironworkers typically earn a good salary, and the median annual wage for ironworkers was $48,830 in May 2021, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. Ironworkers who work on large construction projects, such as skyscrapers or bridges, may earn even more.
In addition to good pay, ironworkers typically receive benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off.
5. Ironworking Offers Opportunities for Advancement
Ironworkers who complete an apprenticeship program and gain experience on the job can advance to become supervisors, project managers, or inspectors. Some ironworkers may also specialize in a particular area, such as welding or rigging.
Ironworkers who have specialized skills or experience may also be able to earn higher wages, and they may be in high demand in certain industries, such as the oil and gas industry.
Where to Find Work as an Ironworker
Ironworkers can find work in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, and transportation. They may work on construction sites, factories, bridges, and other infrastructure projects. Nashville, Tennessee, is a state known to provide good opportunities for Ironworkers.
The city has amassed significant growth in recent years, with numerous construction projects underway, such as the new Nashville Yards development, the Music City Center expansion, and the Amazon fulfillment center.
Ironworkers can also find employment in the manufacturing industry, as Nashville is home to several large manufacturing facilities, including Nissan and Bridgestone. Additionally, Nashville has a strong transportation sector, with the Nashville International Airport and numerous highways and interstates passing through the city, providing additional opportunities for ironworkers.
Working as an ironworker can be an exciting and rewarding career, but it requires physical strength, stamina, and coordination. Ironworkers must also be safety-conscious, be willing to undergo specialized training, and be able to work in adverse weather conditions.
However, ironworking offers good pay and benefits, and there are opportunities for advancement for those willing to work hard and gain experience on the job. If you are interested in working as an ironworker, consider completing an apprenticeship program and gaining experience in the field.
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