Metal Fabricator: Job Outlook & Career Requirements

Find out the types of work that metal fabricators do. Read on to learn more about the job duties, required skills, salary expectation and employment outlook, to see if this field is the right spot for you.

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Career Definition of a Metal Fabricator

Metal fabricators generally work in manufacturing industries, including automotive, aerospace, and electronics. Metal fabricators make and fit parts together using a variety of tools and machines based on patterns that come from blueprints. Metal fabricators may also assemble components or fully finished products. Metal fabricating is highly detailed work. Most metal fabricators are union members and reap the associated benefits.

Education High school diploma or GED required, certificates and degrees also available
Job Skills Reading and math skills, blueprint interpretation, communication skills, teamwork
Median Salary (2017)* $51,320 (for ironworkers)
$47,990 (for sheet metal workers)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 13% (for ironworkers)
9% (for sheet metal workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

Metal fabricators need to have a high school diploma or GED in order to pursue even entry-level positions. Metal fabricators may also have either a related one-year certificate or technical diploma from a community college or technical school. An associate's degree in metal fabrication or additional vocational training may be required for advanced or more highly skilled metal fabricating work. Metal fabricators study how to create and produce metal parts, how to operate machinery and necessary tools, safety procedures, and welding.

Required Skills

Metal fabricators need strong reading and math skills. They also need knowledge of metallurgy, welding, and the ability to read and interpret blueprints. Good communication skills are a must, since most metal fabricators work on teams and need to work well with others on their team.

Career and Economic Outlook

The field of metal fabrication is varied, in that employees may be classified in many different roles, depending on their specific position. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), ironworkers in 2017 can expect to earn a median salary of $51,320, while sheet metal workers will make $47,990. The demand for ironworkers is expected to grow at a faster than average rate of 13% per the BLS; employment of sheet metal workers will grow by 9% from 2016-2026.

Alternate Career Options

Consider these other options in metal work for your career:

Welder, Cutter, Solderer and Brazer

Learning their skills in high school, postsecondary programs or while on the job, these workers basically join or weld metal parts of various types using specialized equipment. From 2016-2026, the BLS predicts an average employment growth of 6% for these occupations that paid an annual median salary of $40,240 in 2017.

Industrial Machinery Mechanic, Maintenance Worker and Millwright

Mechanics and maintenance workers repair and maintain machines used in industry, while millwrights install, move and repair machines at construction sites and in factories. Training for these jobs varies from a high school diploma to 4-year apprenticeships or associate's degree programs, depending on the area of specialization. An average growth of jobs of 7% was forecast by the BLS for these jobs in general from 2016-2026. According to the BLS in 2017, a median annual salaries ranged from $45,540 to $53,980, with millwrights earning the top wages.

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