Structural Iron and Steel Workers

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Also known as:
Bridge Ironworker, Construction Ironworker, Iron Guardrail Installer, Metal Tank Erector, Ornamental Ironworker, Pre-Engineered Metal Building Ironworker, Precast Concrete Ironworker, Steel Fabricator, Steel Fitter, Structural Steel Erector

ABOUT STRUCTURAL IRON OR STEEL WORKER CAREERS
Video transcript

If ever there was a career that combined specialized skill with job diversity, this is it. Experienced structural iron workers build everything from bridges to highways, office buildings to factories. From the frames that support a building to the railings that surround its stairs, structural iron workers are involved in almost every facet of construction. They may even fabricate and install the lampposts.

Cranes and derricks that lift materials to the tops of high-rises are also assembled by structural metal workers. So is the intricate array of steel rods embedded in concrete floor slabs that give them their strength.

For some iron workers, construction begins in a fabricating shop, where raw steel is bent, cut, welded, and drilled to the specifications required for a particular job. Here, and on the site, workers may be required to read blueprints and accurately lay out dimensions. On location, structural iron workers may direct crane operators to lift huge steel beams into position while other workers bolt them together.

Whether in the factory or on the site, structural iron workers have to be in good physical condition and have great strength. Because this type of work is frequently done at great heights on narrow beams and girders, agility, balance, and good eyesight are essential. Individuals who choose this career should not be afraid of heights or suffer from dizziness.

Classroom training is as important as on-the-job training in this career, because apprentices must learn the principles of structural reinforcing, blueprint reading, mathematics, and welding. Novices may begin on the job by carrying materials and other simple tasks. They will then work their way up to cutting and parts-fitting. With enough experience, structural iron workers may eventually become supervisors or go into business for themselves.

SNAPSHOT
Raise, place, and unite iron or steel girders, columns, and other structural members to form completed structures or structural frameworks. May erect metal storage tanks and assemble prefabricated metal buildings.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
HIGH
Level of responsibilities
HIGH
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
LOW
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
HIGH
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
HIGH
Daily tasks

Dismantle structures or equipment.

Fabricate metal parts, such as steel frames, columns, beams, or girders, according to blueprints or instructions from supervisors.

Erect metal or precast concrete components for structures, such as buildings, bridges, dams, towers, storage tanks, fences, or highway guard rails.

Drive drift pins through rivet holes to align rivet holes in structural steel members with corresponding holes in previously placed members.

Assemble hoisting equipment or rigging, such as cables, pulleys, or hooks, to move heavy equipment or materials.

Verify vertical and horizontal alignment of structural steel members, using plumb bobs, laser equipment, transits, or levels.

Pull, push, or pry structural steel members into approximate positions for bolting into place.

Fasten structural steel members to hoist cables, using chains, cables, or rope.

Unload and position prefabricated steel units for hoisting, as needed.

Read specifications or blueprints to determine the locations, quantities, or sizes of materials required.

Bolt aligned structural steel members in position for permanent riveting, bolting, or welding into place.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Handling and Moving Objects Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Performing General Physical Activities Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Building and Construction Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Customer and Personal Service Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
TOP SKILLS
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Coordination Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Quality Control Analysis Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.