- Do you like working with your hands and machines?
- Are you physically fit?
- Do you prefer working alone?
- Are you self-motivated and creative?
- Would you enjoy using precision tools?
- Could you create a three-dimensional drawing?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as a Sheet Metal Worker could be right for you.
Sheet metal workers fabricate, assemble, install and repair sheet metal products – from furnaces and ventilating systems to all sheet metal products used in the construction industry.
They are employed by sheet metal, air-conditioning, heating and roofing contractors, or they can be self-employed.
Sheet metal workers may specialize in on-site installation or shop manufacturing of sheet metal products, or in servicing and maintenance of installed equipment and systems.
Depending on your speciality, your duties may include:
- Building and installing products such as eaves-troughs, air and heat ducts, roof decking and sheet metal buildings
- Laying out, measuring and marking sheet metal
- Working with computerized equipment to cut, bend or straighten sheet metal
- Welding sheet metal parts
- Polishing seams, joints and rough surfaces
- Reading and interpreting sketches and work specifications
The standard work week for sheet metal workers is 40 hours (8 hours a day, 5 days a week). As with many careers in construction, there are peak periods that will require you to work overtime. The number of additional hours you work each week depends on the construction sector and region you work in, and will vary from one job to the next.
As a Sheet Metal Worker, you may work indoors or outdoors, on construction sites or in a shop. You may work independently, but may also collaborate with other construction professionals. The job can be physically demanding – you may work at considerable heights and have to lift heavy materials and equipment.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Sheet metal workers are trained to work safely and wear special equipment to protect against injury.
Training and Certification
Apprenticeship involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Sheet Metal Worker, called a journeyperson.
As an apprentice, you earn while you learn and are paid by the hour while working on the job site. Wages start at about 50 per cent of a journeyperson’s hourly rate and increase during your apprenticeship until you reach the journeyperson rate.
Entering an apprenticeship program
Requirements for sheet metal worker apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. In most provinces and territories, you must be at least 18 years old and have a Grade 12 education or equivalent to enter the program. You may also find it helpful to have courses in geometry and math.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as a Sheet Metal Worker.
Apprenticeship training programs for sheet metal workers vary across Canada, but generally involve four 12-month periods, including at least 5,700 hours of on-the-job training, four 10-week blocks of technical training and a final certificate exam.
Related work experience or completion of a sheet metal worker program at a college or technical institute can reduce the time required to complete your apprenticeship.
Certification is required in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec. It is available but voluntary in all other provinces and territories. Even where certification is voluntary, it is still recommended as it tells employers and other workers that you are a skilled professional, and it also helps you get jobs.
To be certified as a Sheet Metal Worker, you usually need to complete a four-year apprenticeship program. Once you successfully complete the required on-the-job training, technical training and exams, you are awarded a journeyperson certificate.
You may be eligible for certification in some provinces and territories if you have more than four years of on-the-job experience and some high school, college or industry courses for sheet metal workers.
As a certified Sheet Metal Worker, you may write the Interprovincial Exam to qualify for the Interprovincial Standards’ Red Seal. With a Red Seal, you can work as a Sheet Metal Worker anywhere in Canada.
To keep their skills current, Sheet Metal Workers must keep up with new technologies by reading and speaking with others in their field.
Anticipated In-Demand Regions
- British Columbia
- Ontario - Eastern Region
- Ontario - Greater Toronto Area (GTA)