Steel Worker Job Description

Steel workers construct and install steel frameworks for structures. Construction crews, contractors, and building companies hire steel workers to join team-driven crews during full-time shifts that may include some evening and weekend hours. Steel workers travel to jobsites to erect steel components and primarily report to the construction crew foreman.


Steel Worker Duties and Responsibilities

Daily job duties for steel workers change depending on the building project and the size of the construction crew. However, these main tasks are associated with the job in most environments:

Construct Steel Frames

Steel workers construct steel frames and structural supports for buildings, bridges, and other construction projects.

Cut Steel

Steel workers cut and weld steel pieces.

Reinforce Concrete

Steel workers cut and position steel bars to reinforce concrete.

Make Repairs

Steel workers make repairs to existing steel frames and infrastructure elements.

Operate Cranes

Steel workers operate cranes to move steel pieces into specific locations on the building site. This includes attaching cables to steel so it can be hoisted.

Verify Alignments

Steel workers verify the alignment of steel building elements to ensure they’re straight and sound.

Drill Holes

Steel workers prepare pieces of steel to be connected together by drilling bolt holes.

Transport Steel

Steel workers unload and stack steel for use on jobsites.

Read Blueprints

Steel workers read and interpret blueprints and building plans to map out where steel pieces should go.

Maintain Safety

Steel workers follow safety protocols at all times and wear proper protective equipment.


Steel Worker Skills and Qualifications

Steel workers need a high degree of mechanical competency to construct and erect steel building elements. When searching for steel workers, employers look for candidates who have the following skills:

  • Mechanical ability – steel workers work with their hands to fabricate and place steel structural components, which requires strong mechanical abilities
  • Communication skills – steel workers use verbal communication skills to interact with other construction crew members. They use reading skills to interpret blueprints
  • Attention to detail – steel workers work with extremely heavy pieces of steel to create structures, a task that requires exceptional attention to detail because every movement must be precise to be safe
  • Analytical thinking – steel workers read blueprints to determine how to construct steel frameworks and structural elements, which requires excellent analytical skills
  • Physical fitness – steel workers stand, squat, crouch, and lift heavy objects to perform their regular job duties, tasks that require physical stamina


Tools of the Trade

Steel workers regularly use the following tools and equipment:

  • Alignment tools (levels, plumb bobs, laser sights)
  • Crane equipment (cranes, cables, chains, pulleys, hooks)
  • Metal cutting tools (torches, welding guns)
  • Power tools (drills, air hammers)


Steel Worker Education and Training

Many employers hire steel workers on an entry-level basis, requiring no formal education beyond a high school diploma or GED. Steel workers must undergo an apprenticeship program, but many employers provide this training on the job.

Apprentice steel workers who are still in training work closely with a senior steel worker to learn how to perform all the functions of the job. The length of this training program varies and may last for months.


Steel Worker Salary and Outlook

According to PayScale, steel workers earn $20.57 in median hourly pay. Information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), however, shows that iron workers earn $24.67 in median hourly pay, or $51,320 annually. Employment in this field is expected to rise 13 percent through 2026. This job growth is faster than the national average. Iron workers install structural iron and steel for buildings, roads, bridges, and other structures, performing many of the same tasks as steel workers.

Employers typically offer full insurance benefits to steel workers that include medical, dental, vision, disability, and life insurance coverage. Steel workers also receive yearly paid vacation and sick leave from employers. Some companies also provide holiday and profit-sharing bonuses in addition to base pay.


Helpful Resources

Search these books and websites to find education and training programs, hunt for jobs, and learn techniques used by successful steel workers:

American Institute of Steel Construction – discover education resources, read publications, explore the steel solutions center, and browse through technical resources at this website for all steel workers

An Introduction to Welding Structural Steel – this book serves as an in-depth introduction to welding structural steel

United Steelworkers – browse news and publications for steel workers at this website devoted to the profession. This site also contains informative video and blog content

Handling and Erection of Steel Joist and Joist Girders: Technical Digest 9 – this technical guidebook delves deep into handling and erecting steel structural components. It has a particular emphasis on steel joists and joist girders

Laborers’ International Union of North America – stay up to date on the issues that affect all construction workers at this website, which also has news updates, education resources, and training program information

Structural Steel Design – use this book to master all the fundamentals of structural steel design. The straightforward text conforms to the latest specifications set forth by the American Institute of Steel Construction


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