How to Become a Sheet Metal Worker
Sheet metal workers learn their trade through an apprenticeship or on-the-job training, or at a technical school.
Sheet metal workers who work in construction typically learn their trade through an apprenticeship. Those who work in manufacturing often learn on the job or at a technical school.
Sheet metal workers typically need a high school diploma or equivalent. Those interested in becoming a sheet metal worker should take high school classes in algebra and geometry. Vocational-education courses such as blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, and welding are also helpful.
Technical schools may have programs that teach welding and metalworking. These programs help provide the basic welding and sheet metal fabrication knowledge that sheet metal workers need to do their job.
Some manufacturers have partnerships with local technical schools to develop training programs specific to their factories.
Most construction sheet metal workers learn their trade through 4- or 5-year apprenticeships, which include both paid on-the-job training and related technical instruction. Apprentices learn construction basics such as blueprint reading, math, building code requirements, and safety and first aid practices. Welding may be included as part of the training.
Some workers start out as helpers before entering apprenticeships.
Apprenticeship programs are sponsored by unions and businesses. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are being 18 years old and having a high school diploma or the equivalent.
After completing an apprenticeship program, sheet metal workers are considered journey workers who are qualified to perform tasks on their own.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Some states require licenses for sheet metal workers. Check with your state for more information.
Although not required, sheet metal workers may earn certifications for several tasks that they perform. For example, some sheet metal workers become certified in welding from the American Welding Society. In addition, the International Certification Board offers certification in testing and balancing, HVAC fire life safety, and other related activities for eligible sheet metal workers. The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, offers a certification in precision sheet metal work.
Detail oriented. Sheet metal workers must precisely measure and cut, follow detailed directions, and monitor their surroundings for safety risks.
Dexterity. Sheet metal workers need good hand–eye coordination and motor control to make precise cuts and bends in metal pieces.
Math skills. Sheet metal workers must calculate the proper sizes and angles of fabricated sheet metal to ensure the alignment and fit of ductwork.
Mechanical skills. Sheet metal workers use saws, lasers, shears, and presses. They should have good mechanical skills in order to operate and maintain equipment.
Physical stamina. Sheet metal workers in factories may spend many hours standing at their workstation.
Physical strength. Sheet metal workers must be able to lift and move ductwork that is heavy and cumbersome. Some jobs require workers to push, pull, or lift 50 pounds or more.