- Are you strong and physically fit?
- Do you enjoy travelling and working outdoors?
- Are you comfortable with heights?
- Can you work in a team?
- Would you like to work with precision tools?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as an Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter could be right for you.
Ironworkers fabricate, erect, hoist, install, repair and service structural ironwork, precast concrete, concrete reinforcing materials, curtain walls, ornamental iron and other metals used in the construction of buildings, bridges, highways, dams and other structures and equipment.
Structural metal and plate-work fabricators and fitters fabricate, assemble, fit and install steel or other metal components for buildings, bridges, tanks, towers, boilers, pressure vessels and other similar structures and products.
Ironworkers and structural metal fabricator and fitters are employed by construction ironwork contractors.
As an Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter, your duties may include the following:
- Installing and repairing the metal structures that form the steel skeleton of buildings, bridges and towers
- Putting steel bars in concrete to reinforce concrete structures
- Installing structural and architectural concrete components for buildings, bridges, towers and other structures
- Welding or bolting steel in place
- Installing ornamental and structural metalwork such as metal stairways, railings and power doors
- Signalling crane operators to lift and move steel
- Installing both scaffolding and lifting equipment
- Reading and interpreting blueprints
For more than 100 years, highly skilled ironworkers have come from Indigenous communities across Canada. Check out this great video on the Mohawk Skywalkers.
The standard work week for ironworkers and structural metal fabricators and fitters 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 an Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter, you will usually work outdoors on construction sites, and with a team of other construction professionals. You may have to travel from job to job, and could be away from home for long periods of time. The work is physically demanding – you may have to work on scaffolding at great heights and will often work with heavy equipment and materials.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Ironworkers and structural metal fabricators and fitters are trained to work safely and wear special equipment to protect against injury.
Training and Certification
Apprenticeship is one way of starting out in the construction industry. It involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter, 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 70% of a journeyperson’s hourly rate and increase during your apprenticeship until you reach the full rate.
Entering an apprenticeship program
Requirements for ironworker/structural metal fabricator and fitter apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. In most provinces and territories, you must be at least 16 years old and have a Grade 10 education or equivalent to enter an ironworking/structural metal fabricator and fitter apprenticeship program. It is recommended that you have up to Grade 12 math.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as an Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter.
Apprenticeship training programs for ironworkers and structural metal fabricators and fitters vary across Canada, but generally involve three 12-month periods, including at least 4,500 hours of on-the-job training, one 10-week block and two seven-week blocks of technical training, and a final certificate exam.
Related work experience or completion of an ironworker/structural metal fabricator and fitter program at a college or technical institute can reduce the time required to complete your apprenticeship.
Certification is required in Alberta and Quebec. It is available but voluntary in all other provinces. In territories where certification is not available, it may be possible to study as an apprentice through your local labour organization. Check out our Related links to find out who to contact. 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 an Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter, you usually need to complete a three-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 three years of on-the-job experience and some high school, college or industry courses in ironworking/structural metal fabricating and fitting.
As a certified Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter you may write the Interprovincial Exam to qualify for the Interprovincial Standards’ Red Seal. With a Red Seal, you can work as an Ironworker/Structural Metal Fabricator and Fitter anywhere in Canada.
To keep their skills current, workers in this profession must keep up with new technologies by reading and speaking with other Ironworkers and Structural Metal Fabricators and Fitters.
Anticipated In-Demand Regions
- British Columbia