Iron Worker Job Description

Iron workers install iron and steel frames for buildings, bridges, and other structures. Contractors, construction companies, and building companies hire iron workers for full- and part-time shifts that may include evenings and weekends, but iron workers primarily work during daytime weekday hours. Iron workers travel to jobsites to perform their duties and report to the job foreman. Iron workers perform their duties in a collaborative environment with other construction and iron workers, sometimes in dangerous conditions.


Iron Worker Duties and Responsibilities

The iron worker’s daily duties can vary depending on the structure they’re erecting, the size of the construction team, and the environmental conditions in which they are working. However, these are some core job tasks that iron workers commonly perform:

Build and Install Structural Frames

Iron workers build and install columns, girders, and structural frameworks out of iron and steel. To do so, they read and interpret blueprints, specifications, and work orders.

Cut and Weld Metal

Iron workers cut, grind, and weld metal to shape it to specific parameters.

Operate Crane Ball

Iron workers attach pieces of steel to crane balls using cables, nuts, and bolts to move metal pieces into position.

Reinforce Concrete

Iron workers install steel bars in concrete to structurally reinforce it.

Repair and Replace Structural Components

Iron workers repair and replace existing structural elements of buildings.

Follow Safety Regulations

Iron workers follow all company, state, and federal safety regulations, and wear proper protective gear while working.

Maintain Tools and Equipment

Iron workers keep all the tools and equipment they use clean and in good working order.

Stack, Load, and Unload Steel

Iron workers stack, load, and unload steel and iron pieces.


Iron Worker Skills and Qualifications

Iron workers cut, weld, and install pieces of metal to erect structures of all types while working within a collaborative team environment and adhering to all safety standards. Iron workers who display the following skills and abilities are highly desired by employers:

  • Physical fitness – iron workers work in hazardous conditions, and sometimes from great heights on aerial lifts, which requires good physical fitness
  • Communication skills – iron workers use words and hand signals when working with other crew members, which requires good communication skills
  • Mathematics – because iron workers make calculations and measure materials, good math skills are essential to this job
  • Attention to detail – since one mistake in erecting metal structures can lead to buildings and bridges that are unsound and unsafe, iron workers use extreme attention to detail with every task they perform
  • Analytical thinking – iron workers read blueprints and building schematics and design the specified elements to build the structures depicted on paper, which requires strong analytical skills


Tools of the Trade

Iron workers regularly use the following tools:

  • Hand tools (wrenches, hammers, levels)
  • Power tools (drills)
  • Measuring tools (measuring tape, chalk lines)
  • Welding tools (torches, face shields, aprons)


Iron Worker Education and Training

Employers have varying requirements for iron workers. Some require candidates to have a high school education or equivalent, while others accept candidates with no education as long as they are 18 years of age or older. Some companies additionally require iron workers to have past experience working with iron. In addition to other qualifications, iron workers must have a valid driver’s license to travel to jobsites. Entry-level iron workers are accepted by some employers.

Iron workers go through training, a period that varies by employer. New hires in training are closely supervised by senior crew members until they learn their job duties.


Iron Worker Salary and Outlook

Iron workers earn $24.67 per hour on average, or $51,320 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS expects employment in this field to grow 13 percent by 2026, a rate that’s faster than the national job growth average.

Full-time iron workers receive comprehensive benefit packages that include life, health, vision, and dental insurance. Worker’s compensation and retirement benefits are also typically provided. Most employers additionally provide iron workers with vacation leave, paid sick days, and holiday pay.


Helpful Resources

Use these books and websites to find information, tips, job openings, and other resources for iron workers:

Metal Construction Association – read metal construction news, find upcoming events, browse educational resources, and look at metal galleries at the MCA website

Ironworker Red-Hot Career Guide – learn how to give the best answers to the most common interview questions iron workers face when applying for jobs. You can also read up on interview topics that are likely to be discussed

International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers – find training programs, look at job openings, browse safety tips, and explore the iron workers magazine at this website for professional iron workers

Reinforcing Concrete for Ironworkers – this reference manual provides in-depth information about reinforcing concrete, a skill that iron workers need to know

Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust – read the latest iron worker news, find upcoming events, and search other resources at this website

Structural Steel Erection – this book is a reference manual for iron workers who want to master quality construction practices for erecting structural steel


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