Skilled Trades Careers

How to Become a Sheet Metal Worker in America in 2024

DateJanuary 3, 2024
how to become a sheet metal worker in america

Are you interested in a hands-on career with consistent growth and strong earning potential? Then you might be interested in learning how to become a sheet metal worker.

These skilled trade professionals are in high demand across America and have been for some time. With the right training and skills, you could be on your way to joining them in a rewarding career in this trade.

With a free SkillHero account you get access to resources, training opportunities, and job openings in the sheet metal industry. Whether you're just starting out or looking to advance your career, SkillHero can connect you with the tools and support you need to succeed.

In this article we cover the steps to becoming a sheet metal worker in America, including an overview of necessary steps and potential trade paths. Claim your free account here and then finish reading this article so you can create your own custom career strategy.

What is a sheet metal worker and what do they do at work?

A sheet metal worker specializes in fabricating, installing, and maintaining metal products and structures. They work with a variety of metals such as steel, aluminum, and copper, and use specialized tools and equipment to cut, bend, and shape these materials into ducts, pipes, and various other products.

Career paths in this trade include general sheet metal workers as well as industrial, fabrication, architectural, and installation sheet metal workers.

A typical day at work might involve reading blueprints, measuring and cutting metal, assembling and installing ductwork or other structures, and conducting routine maintenance or repairs.

They may work indoors or outdoors, often on construction sites, and must adhere to safety guidelines and regulations to ensure their work is carried out efficiently and effectively.

How hard is it to become a sheet metal worker?

This trade demands hands-on capabilities like physical strength, endurance, and attention to detail, as well as the intellectual skills to work on complex projects alone or with a team. It's not the most technical trade or the most physically demanding, but it does require a combination of both types of proficiencies.

While starting this career doesn't require specific school education beyond a high school diploma, higher learning and industry certifications can certainly help you command higher wages. New hires can expect to complete up to 60 months of apprenticeship, which involves a combination of classroom instruction and on-the-job training.

This demanding trade involves working with heavy materials and complex systems such as industrial HVAC. Shaping metal sheets while ensuring they meet long-term safety standards requires skill and tenacity, which is why apprenticeship programs are longer than average.

What's the average salary for sheet metal workers?

Sheet metal workers earn a competitive salary, especially as they gain experience and take on more responsibility. According to the latest data, apprentices can expect to earn around $35,569 per year, while journeymen make around $55,350 annually and masters can earn an annual wage of $99,560 or more.

Sheet-Metal-Worker average salary SkillHero

Geographic location can also impact earnings, with workers in higher cost-of-living areas typically earning more. The trade path can also affect income, as those who pursue specialized certifications or move into supervisory roles can expect higher pay.

How to become a sheet metal worker in the United States

The path to becoming a sheet metal worker in the United States is not as complicated as it may seem. With the right training and skills, you can start your career in this trade and have opportunities for growth within a couple of years.

While this trade does require a combination of classroom instruction, on-the-job training, and comfort with precision tools, it doesn't require any significant investment before you start earning above-average rates. Here are the core steps you need to focus on in order to get the most out of your work hours.

Get a high school diploma or equivalent

In the skilled trades, having a high school diploma or an equivalent credential is crucial for getting started. A high school education demonstrates a basic level of education and opens up more opportunities for advanced training and certification programs.

For those who may not have completed high school, obtaining a General Education Development (GED) certificate is a viable alternative.

In addition to a high school diploma, pursuing education at a trade or technical school or obtaining a construction-related degree can enhance job prospects. These educational credentials provide a solid foundation for individuals looking to enjoy a long and lucrative career in skilled trades.

Create a skilled trade resume

Having a great resume is crucial in skilled trades. It's the first impression you make on potential employers and can directly impact your chances of landing a job or an interview. That's why SkillHero provides a free resume builder that includes a database of industry skills vetted by experts.

Once you've created your resume, it's easy to share it with employers directly on SkillHero or export it as a PDF to print or use on other platforms. Sign up for a free SkillHero account to access all of our trade career tools and find the best opportunities in your local area.

Find an apprenticeship program

Sheet metal worker apprenticeship programs provide hands-on training, mentorship, and the opportunity to earn while you learn. SkillHero's ApprenticeConnect feature connects aspiring workers with reputable companies that are actively hiring.

Opportunities sheet metal worker apprenticeconnect SkillHero

The application process for these programs may vary, but they typically start by submitting your resume and potentially filling out an application form. If you're selected for an individual or group interview, be ready to learn everything you can and ask questions during the meeting.

Even if you don't get a job offer, you can learn valuable lessons that will be helpful in subsequent interviews.

Network within the industry

Networking is essential for trade workers to build connections and professional relationships, and stay up to date on industry trends. By attending networking events and building contacts with adjacent or relevant industries, sheet metal workers can open up new career opportunities and access valuable resources and support.

Networking allows you to learn from others’ experiences, gain valuable insights, and establish a strong presence in the industry. It can also lead to partnerships and collaborations that can benefit your career or business.

As a sheet metal worker, networking with skilled professionals in industries like HVAC, manufacturing, and construction can all be ideal if they align with your trade path and career plans.

Obtain and update relevant certifications

Having relevant certifications is invaluable for sheet metal workers, as it validates their competence and opens up opportunities for career advancement and higher pay.

Some of the most common certifications for sheet metal workers include NCCER Sheet Metal certifications (National Center For Construction Education and Research) and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) construction certifications.

These certifications ensure that sheet metal workers are knowledgeable and skilled in their trade, and are recognized nationally. Some are basic and recommended for most workers to get as soon as possible, while others such as mechanical drawing may only be necessary for specific roles and positions.

SkillHero maintains an easy-to-use database of training programs and certifications that you can find in your local area or in nearby cities.

Who should become a sheet metal worker?

People who have a passion for hands-on work, technical skills, math proficiency, and strong attention to detail are likely to find this work appealing. It's also great for anyone who enjoys seeing the tangible results of their labor make a permanent impact on the physical world.

Sheet metal workers face unique challenges such as lifting heavy materials, navigating tight spaces, and working in different weather conditions. They need to have strong problem-solving skills and the commitment to excellence required to craft and repair sheet metal products of the highest quality.

If you have a knack for working with your hands and a sharp mind, a career as a sheet metal worker might be the ideal fit for you. Don't let the challenges deter you - the opportunities for growth and fulfillment in this industry are many and growing year over year.

Ready to get started? Join SkillHero and take the first step towards a rewarding and dynamic career in sheet metal work.