This type of program teaches welding techniques and allows students to get experience using the tools of the trade. Apprenticeships may last a number of years. Certificate programs could include laboratory training and significant amounts of classroom instruction. Students learn the fundamentals of iron working along with industrial safety protocols. Associate's degree programs offer general education subjects in addition to iron working core courses. Students of each of these programs must usually be physically fit, be at least 18 years old, and have a high school education.
Iron Workers Apprenticeship Program
An aspiring iron worker should be prepared to spend up to four years in an apprenticeship program, which will prepare students for structural, ornamental, welding, rigging, and reinforcing iron work. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, the iron worker is called a journeyman and may eventually progress to a supervisory position. Iron worker apprenticeship programs provide a combination of classroom and hands-on training. At least 204 hours of classroom work are required each year. Topics include:
- Blueprint reading
- Tool use and safety
- Safety issues
- Oxy-acetylene flame cutting
Certificate of Completion in Iron Working
Some apprenticeship programs award a certificate of completion to demonstrate passage of the training program. A certificate signifies completion of the classroom and hands-on components of the iron worker apprentice training. Certificate program requirements include laboratory training and didactic courses. The following topics are included in an iron working curriculum:
- Blueprint reading
- Iron working
- Rigging and hoisting
- Structural steel erection
- Industrial safety
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Associate of Applied Science in Construction Studies
Associate's degrees are available for those who are pursuing or obtained journeyman status. Students receive credit for their iron working training and must complete other degree requirements as mandated by the institution. Graduates are often eligible for supervisor and leadership positions. In addition to iron working training, students may complete core requirements in the humanities and sciences through courses such as:
- Computer information science
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), favorable job prospects are expected during the 2014-2024 decade. Continued construction of commercial and industrial buildings is expected to lead to a majority of the job growth for reinforcing iron and rebar workers, which is estimated to be 9% during that time. Salaries for iron workers vary depending upon their skills, but as of May 2015, the BLS estimated a median salary of $50,490 per year for structural iron and steel workers nationwide.
A national certification program is available through a joint effort between the American Welders Society and Iron Workers International. There are numerous training and testing locations in the United States. Applicants are tested on their ability to complete a sound weld, according to welding procedure specifications. Certification maintenance forms must be completed every six months.
Certificate and associate's degree programs in iron working prepare students for employment in the industry and often work in conjunction with an apprenticeship. National certification through two industry organizations is available at testing centers throughout the U.S.