Although structural steel work is the basis of the ironworkers’ trade, you may find yourself carrying out a number of other tasks related to construction. You may assemble prefabricated buildings, do some welding or reinforce concrete by inserting metal bars or mesh into it while it is setting.You may be called upon to install steel studs for framing interior walls or to adjust and position steel joists to support concrete floors or ceilings. You may also find yourself working with ornamental steel or other structural metals work such as railings, power doors, metal stairways and hand rails.
"Ironwork is a multi-faceted trade that attracts people who like variety. You have to be able to do a little bit of everything."
Challenges and Opportunities
As an ironworker, you will be the first to arrive at a building site. The work you do will make it possible for other workers in other trades to complete their tasks. Ironwork is both physically demanding and often dangerous. You may find yourself working outside at great heights while contending with rain and wind. A girder covered with rain or melted snow can be very slippery, and if you fall, you could suffer serious injury. You will also be hoisting and positioning steel units of heavy concrete forms. As a result, you may suffer from pulled muscles, a bad back or other work related injuries.
The job demands thought and planning. You have to be able to read and understand blueprints in order to position the steel or concrete units properly. You also have to be able to understand the often-complicated processed involved in building scaffolding and rigging. Rigging poses a special problem since the cables must be able to bear heavy weights, and these must be calculated ahead of time.