Sheetmetal worker

Name: 
Jill
Job Type/Skill: 
Sheetmetal worker

Sheet metal workers select types of sheet metal or nonmetallic material; measure and mark dimensions and reference lines on metal sheets; drill holes in metal for screws, bolts, and rivets; install metal sheets with supportive frameworks; fabricate or alter parts at construction sites; maneuver large sheet metal parts to be installed, and anchor the parts, and fasten seams or joints by welding, bolting, riveting, or soldering. Sheet metal workers fabricate, install, and maintain thin sheet metal products. Although sheet metal is used to make many products, such as rain gutters, outdoor signs, and siding, it is most commonly used to make ducts for heating and air conditioning.

Sheet metal workers study plans and specifications to determine the kind and quantity of materials they will need. Using computer-controlled saws, lasers, shears, and presses, they measure, cut, bend, and fasten pieces of sheet metal. In shops without computerized equipment, sheet metal workers make the required calculations and use tapes and rulers to lay out the work. Then, they cut or stamp the parts with machine tools.

In manufacturing plants, sheet metal workers program and operate computerized metalworking equipment. For example, they may fabricate sheet metal parts for aircraft or industrial equipment. Sheet metal workers in those jobs may be responsible for programming the computer control systems of the equipment they operate. Additionally, they may make custom pieces and operate equipment that is manually controlled. Before assembling pieces, sheet metal workers check each part for accurate measurements. If necessary, they use hand rotary or squaring shears and hacksaws to finish pieces. After inspecting the metal pieces, workers fasten seams and joints with welds, bolts, rivets, solder, or other connecting devices. Then they take the parts constructed in the shop and further assemble the pieces as they install them.

Most fabrication work is done in shops with some final assembly done on the job. Some jobs are done completely at the jobsite. When installing a metal roof, for example, sheet metal workers usually measure and cut roofing panels onsite. In addition to installing sheet metal, some workers install fiberglass and plastic board. In some shops and factories, sheet metal workers maintain the equipment they use. Sheet metal workers do both construction-related work and the mass production of sheet metal products in manufacturing. Sheet metal workers are often separated into four specialties: fabrication, installation, maintenance, and testing and balancing.

Most sheet metal workers learn their trade through 4- or 5-year apprenticeships. Each year, apprentices must have at least 1,700 to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and a minimum of 246 hours of related technical instruction. Apprentices learn construction basics such as blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices. After completing an apprenticeship program, sheet metal workers are considered to be journey workers, qualifying them to do tasks on their own. Apprenticeship programs are offered by unions and businesses. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are reaching the age of 18 and having a high school diploma or the equivalent. Although most workers enter apprenticeships directly after finishing high school or getting their GED, some start out with a job as a helper before entering an apprenticeship.

 

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