To work as a structural metal worker, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- complete an apprenticeship program or moderate-term, on-the-job training.
Education after high school
Most structural metal workers learn their skills through apprenticeship training programs. Union and non-union apprenticeship programs are available. Admission to apprenticeship programs is competitive. To apply for an apprenticeship, you must:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent;
- be at least 18 years old; and
- be in good physical condition.
Apprenticeship programs usually consist of four years of on-the-job training. You are paid for the time you spend on the job. In addition, each year you receive at least 144 hours of classroom training.
To learn about specific apprenticeship opportunities in your area, consult the US Department of Labor State Apprenticeship Information website.
You can prepare for an apprenticeship by taking courses at a professional-technical or two-year school. Courses in blueprint reading, general math, and drafting prepare students to enter apprenticeship programs. However, these courses are not required to qualify for an apprenticeship.
Some structural metal workers learn their skills informally on the job. In this case, you begin working as a helper and learn skills from an experienced worker. As you gain experience, you learn to cut and fit steel parts together. Training usually lasts about six months.
Some branches of the military train people to be welders and metal workers. Training lasts four to 15 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.
If you receive this type of training in the military, you may earn credit for previous work experience when you enter a civilian apprenticeship program.