Structural Iron and Steel Workers fall into the Investigative Theme Code Category of the Strong Interest Inventory® Test. The Strong Interest Inventory® has been used since 1927, and has been refined for the better part of a century to help people find careers that are fulfilling for them. It does this by analyzing individuals’ occupational patterns and interests to identify their top related careers by Theme Categories. Each Theme Code Category is associated with a list of careers. Investigative careers focus on researching and inquiring, dealing with data or other scientific facts, and analyzing information. People who prefer this category tend to be independent thinkers and benefit from flexible work environments.
Structural Iron and Steel Workers form the structural frameworks of buildings, bridges, dams, towers, fences, or other structures by placing or raising iron or steel girders, columns, or other structural members. To accomplish this goal, they examine blueprints or specifications to determine what kind of materials are necessary in what amounts and in what locations to ensure structural stability. They install steel or iron structures by carefully positioning structural steel members into place. They are bolted so they do not move during the process of permanent riveting or welding or fastening them to chains, cables, or rope. This can also be accomplished by driving drift pins through rivet holes that have corresponding holes in other steel members. If the final destination of steel members is at a high altitude, they may need to be hoisted into the air using cranes, operated either by Structural Iron and Steel Workers themselves, or by hoisting equipment operators. Once structural steel members are positioned, workers must verify their horizontal and vertical alignment by using plumb bobs, transits, or levels. While the majority of Structural Iron and Steel Workers’ jobs are in construction, there are also times when they may need to dismantle structures or equipment as well.
Structural Iron and Steel Workers use a broad range of tools and technologies. Many of these are associated with small-scale construction and design, for instance, pliers, wrenches, blow torches, hammers, power drills, cutoff saws, and power grinders. They operate heavy machinery, such as hydraulic pumps, power lifts, grout mixers, workshop cranes, and personnel lifts, as well as technical machines like plasma arc welding machines, and spot welding machines. Because of the highly risky nature of their work, Structural Iron and Steel Workers use many kinds of safety and protection equipment, including ear plugs, fire extinguishers, hard hats, life vests, welding gloves and masks, and safety boots, glasses, and harnesses. Computer skills are necessary and include accounting, computer aided design (CAD) software, and project management software.
While most Structural Iron and Steel Workers hold a high school diploma (42%) or less (34%), many (19%) hold a post-secondary certificate as well. On the job experience is most important.Practical knowledge of materials and tools involved in construction, as well as mechanical knowledge of machines and their maintenance is valuable. Structural Iron and Steel Workers benefit from a basic knowledge of mathematics, as well as a familiarity with public safety standards and management of teams. Furthermore, Structural Iron and Steel Workers should have strong problem solving and decision-making skills, and must be physically fit for such a demanding job. They have to be able to coordinate multiple limbs, have a strong core and trunk, and be able to keep their hands and arms steady for potentially long periods of time. Their hands and fingers both need to be able to accomplish fine motor tasks, and they need fast reaction time and perceptual speed.
The average Structural Iron and Steel Worker’s salary around the country, as of 2015, was $24.28 per hour ($50, 490 per year). The states of New York, Illinois, and Washington tend to be the most lucrative, often paying between $79,000 and $90,000 per year on average. While the rate of employment is projected to continue to fall or remain static in much of the country, it is projected to grow at a rate of 5% or less before 2024, while remaining in high demand in the western United States. Colorado, Arizona, and Nevada all have projected growth rates well over 30%, while several other states, including Florida, California, and New York, are close behind.
Below are some employment trends for Structural Iron and Steel Workers:
- Median Steel Worker salary: $23.17/hour; $48,200 annually
- Employment: 61,000 employees
- Projected growth (2014-2022): Average (5% to 8%)
- Projected job openings (2014-2022): 13,000
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics wage data and 2014-2022 employment projections Onetonline.org