What does an Ironworker do?

Learn all about Ironworker duties, skills and much more. Get expert advice on how to become an Ironworker.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 4 min read

Ironworkers are construction workers who erect the structural framework of buildings, bridges, and other structures. They install the reinforcing steel bars or mesh that reinforces concrete and other construction materials. Ironworkers also install pre-cast concrete, glass, and metal panels on buildings.

Ironworker job duties include:

  • Read and interpret blueprints, drawings, and specifications to determine layout of industrial structural steel projects
  • Install column clamps, align and fit columns, beams, and girders prior to welding or bolting in order to erect industrial buildings and structures
  • Operate a variety of tools and equipment including oxy-acetylene torches, welding equipment, hydraulic jacks, chain falls, and hand-held power tools
  • Assemble prefabricated metal parts to build metal frameworks of buildings using hand tools and power tools
  • Cut, shape, bend, thread, weld or bolt together metal components to fabricate metal products according to specifications
  • Erect scaffolding and ladders for assembling structures above ground level
  • Inspect completed work for conformance to blueprint specifications and quality standards
  • Repair or replace damaged or faulty parts on existing structures
  • Signal crane operators to lift and position steel beams and columns during construction

Ironworker Job Requirements

Ironworkers are responsible for the construction and maintenance of iron and steel structures, including bridges, buildings, and other large infrastructure. They typically have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some jobs may require postsecondary education or certification. Ironworkers typically have several years of experience in the trade before becoming journeymen.

Ironworker Skills

  • Blueprint reading
  • Shop math
  • Welding
  • Cutting
  • Burning
  • Bolting
  • Rigging
  • Climbing
  • Working at heights
  • Being able to lift heavy objects
  • Being able to work in hot or cold weather

Related: Top Ironworker Skills: Definition and Examples

How to become an Ironworker

Ironworkers are a vital part of the construction industry. They erect the steel framework for buildings, bridges, and other structures. Ironworkers are highly skilled tradespeople who must complete a rigorous apprenticeship program before becoming journeymen.

If you’re interested in becoming an ironworker, here are a few things you need to know. First, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent. You will also need to pass a physical examination and drug test.

Next, you must complete an accredited ironworker apprenticeship program. These programs typically last three to four years and include on-the-job training as well as classroom instruction. During your apprenticeship, you will learn about safety procedures, blueprint reading, welding, and other essential skills.

Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship, you will be eligible to take the journeyman ironworker exam. This exam is administered by the American Ironworkers Certification Board and tests your knowledge of the trade. If you pass the exam, you will be officially certified as a journeyman ironworker.

Now that you know the basics of becoming an ironworker, it’s time to start your career! With hard work and dedication, you can become one of the most skilled tradespeople in the construction industry.

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