Sheet Metal Workers

Career, Salary and Education Information

What They Do: Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets.

Work Environment: Sheet metal workers often lift heavy materials and stand for long periods of time. Those who install sheet metal must often bend, climb, and squat. Most work full time.

How to Become One: Sheet metal workers who work in construction typically learn their trade through an apprenticeship. Those who work in manufacturing often learn on the job or at a technical school.

Salary: The median annual wage for sheet metal workers is $48,460.

Job Outlook: Employment of sheet metal workers is projected to grow 1 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations. Employment growth reflects an expected increase in the number of industrial, commercial, and residential structures that will be built over the coming decade.

Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of sheet metal workers with similar occupations.

Following is everything you need to know about a career as a sheet metal worker with lots of details. As a first step, take a look at some of the following jobs, which are real jobs with real employers. You will be able to see the very real job career requirements for employers who are actively hiring. The link will open in a new tab so that you can come back to this page to continue reading about the career:

Top 3 Sheet Metal Worker Jobs

  • Sheet Metal Worker Local 66 Residential - Evergreen State Sheet Metal Inc (parent company) - Bellevue, WA

    Training through Local 66 Sheet Metal Workers Union * Fun organization with elite co- workers both in the field and in the office Requirements: * EL06 (low voltage) License or trainee card in good ...

  • Sheet Metal Fabricator - Advanced Metal Works - Fresno, CA

    The Ideal Person · Is a hard worker , punctual and dependable · Has a good working knowledge of ... Utilizing our systems and work methods to accomplish the following: 1. Fabricate sheet metal and ...

  • Sheet Metal Layout - Liberty Staffing USA - Sanford, FL

    Will be working on Stainless, Carbon and other light gauges metals . Must be able to read a tape measure. Be able to read blue prints. Use measuring tools such as calipers, micrometers / High gauges ...

See all Sheet Metal Worker jobs

What Sheet Metal Workers Do[About this section] [To Top]

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used in heating and air conditioning systems.

Duties of Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers typically do the following:

  • Select types of sheet metal according to plans
  • Measure and mark dimensions and reference lines on metal sheets
  • Drill holes in metal for screws, bolts, and rivets
  • Install metal sheets with supportive frameworks
  • Fabricate or alter parts at construction sites
  • Maneuver and anchor large sheet metal parts
  • Fasten seams or joints by welding, bolting, riveting, or soldering

Sheet metal is thin steel, aluminum, or other alloyed metal that is used in both manufacturing and construction. Sheet metal is commonly used to make ducts for heating and air conditioning systems, but it is also used to make products such as rain gutters, outdoor signs, and siding.

In addition to installing sheet metal, some workers install nonmetallic materials such as fiberglass and plastic board.

The following are examples of types of sheet metal workers:

Fabrication sheet metal workers, sometimes called precision sheet metal workers, make precision sheet metal parts for a variety of industries, from power generation to medical device manufacturing. Most work in shops and factories, operating tools and equipment. In large-scale manufacturing, the work may be highly automated and repetitive. Many fabrication shops have automated machinery, such as computer-controlled saws, lasers, shears, and presses, which measure, cut, bend, and fasten pieces of sheet metal. Workers often use computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) and building information modeling (BIM) systems to make products. Some of these workers may be responsible for limited programming of the computers controlling their equipment. Workers who primarily program computerized equipment are called metal and plastic machine workers.

Installation sheet metal workers install heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts. They also install other sheet metal products, such as metal roofs, siding, and gutters. They typically work on new construction and on renovation projects. Information about workers who install or repair roofing systems can be found in the profile on roofers.

Maintenance sheet metal workers repair and clean ventilation systems so the systems use less energy. Workers remove dust and moisture and fix leaks or breaks in the sheet metal that makes up the ductwork.

Testing and balancing sheet metal specialists ensure that HVAC systems heat and cool rooms properly by adjusting sheet metal ducts to achieve proper airflow. Information on workers who install or repair HVAC systems can be found in the profile on heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers.

Work Environment for Sheet Metal Workers[About this section] [To Top]

Sheet metal workers hold about 137,700 jobs. The largest employers of sheet metal workers are as follows:

Specialty trade contractors 60%
Manufacturing 21%
Government 6%
Construction of buildings 3%
Employment services 3%

Sheet metal fabricators usually work in manufacturing plants and small shops, where they must often lift heavy materials and stand for long periods of time.

Workers who install sheet metal at construction sites must bend, climb, and squat, sometimes in close quarters, in awkward positions, or at great heights. Sheet metal installers who work outdoors are exposed to all types of weather. The work environment may be noisy or dusty, and job tasks may create vibrations.

Injuries and Illnesses for Sheet Metal Workers

Sheet metal workers risk injury on the job. Common injuries include cuts from sharp metal, burns from soldering or welding, and falls from ladders or scaffolding.

Some sheet metal fabricators work around high-speed machines, which can be dangerous. Because of these hazards, workers must often wear safety glasses and must not wear jewelry or loose-fitting clothing that could easily get caught in a machine. To avoid repetitive strain injuries, sheet metal workers may rotate through different production stations.

Sheet Metal Worker Work Schedules

The majority of sheet metal workers work full time.

How to Become a Sheet Metal Worker[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Sheet Metal Workers near you!

Sheet metal workers who work in construction typically learn their trade through an apprenticeship. Those who work in manufacturing often learn on the job or at a technical school.

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Education for Sheet Metal Workers

Most sheet metal workers have a high school diploma or equivalent. Those interested in becoming a sheet metal worker should take high school classes in algebra, geometry, and general vocational education courses including blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, and welding.

Many technical schools have programs that teach welding and metalworking. These programs help provide the basic welding and sheet metal fabrication knowledge that many workers need to perform their job.

Some manufacturers have partnerships with local technical schools to develop training programs specific to their factories.

Sheet Metal Worker Training

Most construction sheet metal workers learn their trade through 4- or 5-year apprenticeships, which include both paid on-the-job training and related classroom technical instruction. Apprentices learn construction basics such as blueprint reading, math, building code requirements, and safety and first aid practices. Welding may be included as part of the training.

Although most construction workers enter apprenticeships directly after finishing high school, some start out as helpers before entering apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship programs are offered by unions and businesses. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are being 18 years old and having a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some apprenticeship programs give veterans preference.

After completing an apprenticeship program, sheet metal workers are considered to be journey workers who are qualified to perform tasks on their own.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Sheet Metal Workers

Although not required, sheet metal workers can earn certifications for several of the tasks that they perform. For example, some sheet metal workers can become certified in welding from the American Welding Society. In addition, the International Training Institute for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Industry offers certification in building information modeling (BIM), welding, testing and balancing, and other related activities. The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, offers a certification in precision sheet metal work.

Important Qualities for Sheet Metal Workers

Computer skills. Sheet metal workers use computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) programs and building information modeling (BIM) systems as they design products and cut sheet metal.

Dexterity. Sheet metal workers need good hand–eye coordination and motor control to make precise cuts and bends in metal pieces.

Math skills. Sheet metal workers must calculate the proper sizes and angles of fabricated sheet metal, as it is important to ensure the alignment and fit of ductwork.

Mechanical skills. Sheet metal workers use saws, lasers, shears, and presses to do their job. As a result, they should have good mechanical skills in order to operate and maintain equipment.

Physical stamina. Sheet metal workers in factories may spend many hours standing at their workstation.

Physical strength. Sheet metal workers must be able to lift and move ductwork that is often heavy and cumbersome. Some jobs require workers to be able to lift 50 pounds.

Sheet Metal Worker Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for sheet metal workers is $50,400. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,260, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $88,070.

The median annual wages for sheet metal workers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Government $58,420
Specialty trade contractors $51,910
Construction of buildings $46,070
Manufacturing $43,590
Employment services $41,230

The starting pay for apprentices is usually less than what fully trained sheet metal workers make. As apprentices learn more skills, their pay increases.

The majority of sheet metal workers work full time.

Union Membership for Sheet Metal Workers

Compared with workers in all occupations, sheet metal workers have a higher percentage of workers who belong to a union. Although there is no single union, the largest organizer for sheet metal workers is the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART).

Job Outlook for Sheet Metal Workers[About this section] [To Top]

Employment of sheet metal workers is projected to grow 1 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth reflects an expected increase in the number of industrial, commercial, and residential structures that will be built over the coming decade. It also reflects the continuing need to install and maintain energy-efficient air conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems in existing buildings.

Job Prospects for Sheet Metal Workers

Despite limited employment growth, about 12,700 openings for sheet metal workers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment of construction sheet metal workers, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to fluctuations in the economy. On the one hand, workers in these trades may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, peak periods of building activity may produce shortages of sheet metal workers.

Employment projections data for Sheet Metal Workers, 2019-29
Occupational Title Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29
Percent Numeric
Sheet metal workers 137,700 139,500 1 1,800


A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.


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