How To Become An Ironworker

Have you considered becoming an Ironworker? If so, you may have a few questions which we can help you with. This industry is great for those who enjoy working with their hands in the construction business.

Check out our guide below for more information! But… before you go any further, consider this: Are you afraid of heights? Most Ironworkers work at great heights, so it’s not for everyone! Take a look at this interesting and unique career choice to see if it’s for you!  

Related Article: 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education

Table of Contents


What does an Ironworker do?

Where would we be without Ironworkers? They provide such a valuable service as they reinforce and install steel for bridge supports, our roads, and other types of transportation systems, as well as buildings and structures.

They must follow blueprints and schematics, prepare prefabricated steel and iron for projects, use all types of tools, welders, and the like to construct or reinforce structures, and work closely with crane operators. 

In addition to erecting steel structures, they also aid in project demolitions and remodels.

Are there different types of Ironworkers?

Yes, below are the main types of Ironworkers; all with varying responsibilities in the field:

  • Structural Ironworker
  • Ornamental Ironworker
  • Reinforcing Ironworker
  • Rigging & Machinery Moving Ironworker
  • Welding and Burning Ironworker

How do I become an Ironworker?

With your high school or equivalent diploma, you can enter the ironworking field through an apprenticeship. And, of course, on-the-job training will be provided so you can learn the trade. Apprenticeships usually last three to four years.

After completing your apprenticeship requirements, you will be a journey-level worker, working with minimal supervision.

Career advancement will come in time as you gain experience and procure a management position as an Ironworker Supervisor, instructing others in the field. 

What qualities do I need to be an Ironworker?

Without a doubt, working as an Ironworker takes concentration while working at extreme heights. Let’s face it, working on skyscrapers is not for the faint of heart. 

You must have a good sense of balance and depth perception, not to mention… excellent physical strength. Other helpful qualities include exceptional problem-solving, attention to detail and critical thinking skills. 

How much do Ironworkers earn?

According to the BLS, Ironworker’s salaries, as of May 2020, were as follows:

  • Reinforcing Iron & Rebar Workers earned $49,390 per year on average, with the highest 10% earning upwards of $88,380 annually.
  • Structural Iron & Steel Workers earned $54,830 annually, with the highest 10% earning upwards of $94,140 per year. 

Are Ironworkers in demand?

Between 2020 and 2030, the BLS has predicted a 6% positive job growth rate, expecting 10,100 new job opportunities for Ironworkers each year over the next ten years.

Is the Ironworker’s job dangerous?

As expected, working at tall heights handling steel beams and heavy tools can undoubtedly contribute to accidents resulting in injuries and/or fatalities.

Ironworkers are specifically trained to prevent accidents when at all possible, such as falls from tremendous heights, cuts, strains, and sprains, plus much more. Ironworkers must wear harnesses, safety glasses, steel-toed boots, gloves, and hard hats.

Where do Ironworkers work?

The largest industry that needs qualified Ironworkers of all types are contractors who specialize in foundation, structure, and building exterior ironwork.

Ironworkers are often subjected to working in adverse weather conditions. They work full-time and often are required to work out of town. 

Do Ironworkers require certification?

As an Ironworker, depending on your specialization, you may choose to seek various certifications that will highlight your abilities and interests. Certifications can be found in welding (AWS), crane operation (NCCCO), or construction education (NCCER).