Sheet metal workers
Sign In
Overview
Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used in heating and air conditioning systems.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for sheet metal workers are expected to grow by 9%, and should have about 16,300 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Sheet metal workers are more likely to be automated than 63% of other careers.
Workforce size
Sheet metal workers, with 138,900 workers, form a larger workforce than 73% of careers.
Education
Only 4% of sheet metal workers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by sheet metal workers
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer sheet metal workers have bachelor's degrees than 87% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for 50% of all other jobs is higher than the middle salary for sheet metal workers. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most sheet metal workers.
This job's median $48KAll jobs' median $39K$48K$38K20142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 4% of sheet metal workers -- that's a smaller percentage than 88% of other jobs.
Gender of sheet metal workers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For sheet metal workers, the median men's salary was 36% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 12% of sheet metal workers are minority, and 14% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of sheet metal workers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (14%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Sheet Metal Workers per thousand workers in each state, DC, and Puerto Rico. The darker the blue, the higher the job density.
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
Job benefits
Employer or union-sponsored pension plans are offered to 54% of sheet metal workers, and 64% have company-sponsored health insurance (11% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for sheet metal workers
100% premiums covered
Partial premiums covered
Plan with no cost sharing
No health insurance
The downside
Some jobs are more stressful than others, and some are just plain dangerous. The following list gives the percentages of sheet metal workers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to Contaminants (86%)
  • Time Pressure (75%)
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings (63%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (62%)
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment (61%)
  • Consequence of Error (47%)
  • Exposed to Whole Body Vibration (43%)
  • Exposed to High Places (32%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do sheet metal workers earn?

In this section, we want to give you a clear idea of what you can expect to earn in this career. We use two sources of data here: the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which asks employers to classify their workforce and to report salaries using the SOC-specialty level of reporting, and the American Community Survey (ACS), which asks people to classify their jobs using the broad classifications that ididio uses for career profiles, and to self-report their salaries. For some jobs, the differences in survey approaches between BLS and ACS can paint a very different end-picture. Whenever possible, we provide data from both sources.

The BLS-compiled salary data is reported by companies for their employees. This data excludes self-employed workers. We first show the distribution of salaries for sheet metal workers, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for sheet metal workers compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for sheet metal workers (BLS Salary Data)
$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$48K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
We compiled household data from the ACS to determine the salaries that people working at least 35 hours a week report themselves to earn. Unlike the BLS estimates, this data includes self-employed wages. We first show the full salary distribution for all sheet metal workers, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for sheet metal workers compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for sheet metal workers (ACS Salary Data)
$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Employers and salary
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, and following we show the salary distributions for these workers based on those employer types. For some careers, the salaries can be vastly different between private, government, and self-employment. As with our salary overview, we view the both the BLS economists' salary profiles and the household-reported salaries from ACS to get a thorough understanding of where sheet metal workers work and for what salary. We have the great faith in the accuracy of economist-vetted BLS data; however, the BLS restrictions on which employers are surveyed skews the data a bit (read more in the sources), and the ACS responses provide different and useful categorizations of employers and salaries.
Employers of Sheet metal workers (ACS)
Private for-profit (87.9%)
Private not-for-profit (1.3%)
Local government (0.7%)
State government (0.4%)
Federal government (3.9%)
Self-employed incorporated (2.1%)
Self-employed not incorporated (3.6%)
Working without pay (0.0%)
Distribution: Salaries of sheet metal workers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$41K$41K$51K$45K$27K$52K$40K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000Self-employed not incorporatedSelf-employed incorporatedFederal governmentLocal governmentPrivate not-for-profitPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of sheet metal workers by type of employer (BLS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type as reported by BLS based on large employer-focused surveys. We note that smaller employer categories are not included by BLS.
$48K$57K$80K$47K$65K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000$120,000Federal governmentState governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for sheet metal workers

The biggest take-away from the following two charts is the relationship between salary and experience that we can infer from age. Does this job seem to attract especially younger or older workers? Does it reward experience?

Take a minute a look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working in this career changes. We only provide this data when there are enough consistent ACS survey responses to allow a reasonable margin of error, so for some careers you will see gaps in our reporting of salary by age.

$39K$49K$32K$42K$46K$48K$49K$25K$50K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
05K10K15K20KNumber employed20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Gender and Equity
Sheet metal workers and gender

With 4% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 88% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
4%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Sheet metal workers
Men (96%)
Women (4%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%, and the difference for sheet metal workers tops that, with the median salary for men 36% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$31K$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

Nationwide there are twenty careers for which men do not have a higher median (middle) salary than women. The chart below shows the salary inequity, the percentage by which the median men's salary is higher than the median women's salary, for most jobs. Sheet metal workers have one of the higher percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job even higher than that for 87% of other jobs.

36%0%20%40%60%80%100%

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Race/Origin
Race and origin of sheet metal workers

The representation of minority and foreign-born workers is quite different between careers, and the relative pay of those workers also varies significantly between careers. There is a smaller percentage of minority sheet metal workers than for 86% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of sheet metal workers
White (83% )
Black (7% )
Other (5% )
Asian (2% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
12%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
14%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for sheet metal workers by race/origin

For some careers, there is a pay disparity depending on race or origin, though this is not prevalent. We calculate standard errors for all of our calculations, and when the error is high we do not show results. Therefore, for some jobs will have omitted race/origin categories.

$32K$36K$39K$40K$41K$42K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KOtherAmerican IndianBlackHispanicMultiracialWhiteAsian
Distribution: Salaries for sheet metal workers by nativity
$32K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

Our only sources for career data containing age, gender, or origin/race come from the Census Bureau. To provide these breakdowns, we have aggregated ACS person-level career survey responses by career, gender, race, and age. These graphics reflect the results of our aggregations, and are useful for identifying trends. A careful statistical study of the impact of age, gender, and race on salaries would correct for other factors that could be contributing to salary differences.

Pathways to this career
Education requirements and salary
Education attained by sheet metal workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sheet metal workers typically hold a high school diploma or equivalent.

Sometimes the typical education identified by the BLS differs a bit from the reality of the how much education current workers actually have. The donut shows the education level held by people currently working as sheet metal workers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for sheet metal workers.

Education attained by sheet metal workers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Deg/Doct
Doctorate
Details: Education and training recommended for sheet metal workers

Most sheet metal workers have a high school diploma or equivalent. Those interested in becoming a sheet metal worker should take high school classes in algebra, geometry, and general vocational education courses including blueprint reading, mechanical drawing, and welding.

Many technical schools have programs that teach welding and metalworking. These programs help provide the basic welding and sheet metal fabrication knowledge that many workers need to perform their job.

Some manufacturers have partnerships with local technical schools to develop training programs specific to their factories.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for sheet metal workers

Although not required, sheet metal workers can earn certifications for several of the tasks that they perform. For example, some sheet metal workers can become certified in welding from the American Welding Society. In addition, the International Training Institute for the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Industry offers certification in building information modeling (BIM), welding, testing and balancing, and other related activities. The Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, offers a certification in precision sheet metal work.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for sheet metal workers? Below we see the distribution of sheet metal workers salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as sheet metal workers, and are not intended as a statistical analysis of salary differences that would correct for non-educational factors that could contribute to high or low earnings.

$32K$41K$45K$43K$41K$41K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KNone (13%)High School (48%)Some College (26%)Associate's Degree (8%)Bachelor's Degree (4%)Master's Degree (0%)
Certificate/degree pathways

The Department of Education recommends the following college degree programs as preparation for this career. You can click the program row to learn more about the program and explore a list of schools that offer the program.

Program
Education
Education level of awarded degrees
Less than bachelor's
bachelor's degree
Higher than bachelor's
Gender
Gender of graduates
Men
Women
Race/Origin
Race/origin of graduates
White
Minority
International
Number of degrees awarded in 2017
Sheet Metal Technology/Sheetworking
244
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for sheet metal workers

What jobs will most sheet metal workers hold next year?

The data in this chart comes from person interviews for the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The survey interviews households eight times over a two-year period, allowing us a glimpse into how people move from job to job. You can see more details from the results of the survey in our last tab in this section, and you can read about our methodology in our source descriptions.

Here we see all of the jobs that at least 1% of sheet metal workers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Sheet metal workersHeating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installersWelding, soldering, and brazing workersFirst-line supervisors of production and operating workersAssemblers and fabricators (specialized areas)First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workersMetal and plastic machine tool cutting setters and operatorsStructural metal fabricators and fittersHand laborers and freight, stock, and material moversProduction workersManagers (specialized areas)Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfittersAircraft structure, surfaces, rigging, and systems assemblersRetail salespersonsJanitors and building cleanersGrounds maintenance workers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for sheet metal workers

A lateral career transition is a move to a job with similar pay and responsibilities. A move to such a job can offer a change of pace without an increase in stress or a decrease in pay. The following table simply identifies all 7 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as sheet metal workers as well as 1% of respondents after working as sheet metal workers. Select a row to investigate the job's full description and determine if it truly offers an opportunity for a lateral transition.

Lateral-move careers for sheet metal workers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Assemblers and fabricators (specialized areas)
131,900
$0$200K$30K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
59,500
$0$200K$53K
Welding, soldering, and brazing workers
51,000
$0$200K$39K
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
39,100
$0$200K$43K
Production workers
37,400
$0$200K$32K
Structural metal fabricators and fitters
6,400
$0$200K$39K
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for sheet metal workers: full listings

What do people typically do before and after they work as sheet metal workers? Here are the full lists of all jobs that at least 1% of sheet metal workers surveyed reported as holding a year earlier or later.

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for sheet metal workers
Annual openings
How many openings are expected each year?
Salary
Salary distribution for people in this occupation. Range is 0-$200,000.
Median
Middle 50%
Middle 80%
Education
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Gender
Men
Women
Percentage Transitioning
What percentage worked in this job the previous year?
Food preparation workers
158,000
$0$200K$19K
1.5%
Construction laborers
153,300
$0$200K$30K
1.7%
Assemblers and fabricators (specialized areas)
131,900
$0$200K$30K
3.2%
Carpenters
113,800
$0$200K$34K
1.0%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
1.2%
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
59,500
$0$200K$53K
2.1%
Welding, soldering, and brazing workers
51,000
$0$200K$39K
5.8%
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers
39,100
$0$200K$43K
4.6%
Production workers
37,400
$0$200K$32K
2.8%
Metal and plastic workers
20,700
$0$200K$34K
2.4%
Roofers
17,200
$0$200K$28K
1.3%
Sheet metal workers
16,300
$0$200K$41K
40.6%
Structural metal fabricators and fitters
6,400
$0$200K$39K
2.0%
No occupation
6.9%
Read about sheet metal workers
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Sheet metal workers typically do the following:

  • Select types of sheet metal according to plans
  • 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 and anchor large sheet metal parts
  • Fasten seams or joints by welding, bolting, riveting, or soldering

Sheet metal is thin steel, aluminum, or other alloyed metal that is used in both manufacturing and construction. Sheet metal is commonly used to make ducts for heating and air conditioning systems, but it is also used to make products such as rain gutters, outdoor signs, and siding.

In addition to installing sheet metal, some workers install nonmetallic materials such as fiberglass and plastic board.

The following are examples of types of sheet metal workers:

Fabrication sheet metal workers, sometimes called precision sheet metal workers, make precision sheet metal parts for a variety of industries, from power generation to medical device manufacturing. Most work in shops and factories, operating tools and equipment. In large-scale manufacturing, the work may be highly automated and repetitive. Many fabrication shops have automated machinery, such as computer-controlled saws, lasers, shears, and presses, which measure, cut, bend, and fasten pieces of sheet metal. Workers often use computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) and building information modeling (BIM) systems to make products. Some of these workers may be responsible for limited programming of the computers controlling their equipment. Workers who primarily program computerized equipment are called metal and plastic machine workers.

Installation sheet metal workers install heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts. They also install other sheet metal products, such as metal roofs, siding, and gutters. They typically work on new construction and on renovation projects. Information about workers who install or repair roofing systems can be found in the profile on roofers.

Maintenance sheet metal workers repair and clean ventilation systems so the systems use less energy. Workers remove dust and moisture and fix leaks or breaks in the sheet metal that makes up the ductwork.

Testing and balancing sheet metal specialists ensure that HVAC systems heat and cool rooms properly by adjusting sheet metal ducts to achieve proper airflow. Information on workers who install or repair HVAC systems can be found in the profile on heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

Can you see yourself in the ranks of sheet metal workers? Here are the skills and traits that could lead to success.

Computer skills
Sheet metal workers use computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) programs and building information modeling (BIM) systems as they design products and cut sheet metal.
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, as it is important to ensure the alignment and fit of ductwork.
Mechanical skills
Sheet metal workers use saws, lasers, shears, and presses to do their job. As a result, 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 often heavy and cumbersome. Some jobs require workers to be able to lift 50 pounds.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for sheet metal workers
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) for 50% of all other jobs were higher than the median (middle) salary for sheet metal workers. This graphic shows how the salary distribution (adjusted for inflation) has changed for this job over recent years. The gray line, as a comparison, shows the median salary of all US workers.

This job's median $48KAll jobs' median $39K$47K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for sheet metal workers are anticipated to grow by 9% over the next decade, which is faster growth than is predicted for 57% of other jobs.

The projected employment for sheet metal workers is the best guess created by talented economists and statisticians at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, as you look through several careers you'll notice that the projections are heavily influenced by past performance and may miss current trends. No one can tell the future, and as new information and better techniques are developed, actual counts and future projections may change. Here's a glimpse at the actual counts versus the projections over time.

20002010202020300100,000200,000300,000
Employment counts
Actual measured employment
BLS 10-year predictions
Variation by state
Employment
State-by-state employment numbers

Some careers tend to be centered in specific parts of the country. For example, most jobs in fashion are in New York or California. Let's see if your dream job is easy to find in your dream location! We have a few choices for viewing the data that can help you get a full employment picture.

Job density versus job count

Which states hire the most sheet metal workers? We wonder if that's a fair question since states come in all sizes, so instead let's start with the question of which states have the highest density of people working as sheet metal workers. You can choose to view the number of jobs per state if you prefer.

BLS vs ACS data

This map defaults to employment information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which provides job totals carefully compiled for accuracy and with a primary focus on how employers describe their workers. The BLS job totals do not count self-employed workers. We've also compiled totals using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (ACS) which are based on how workers describe themselves. Sometimes ACS results are quite a bit different from the employer-based BLS data.

Choose the metric to review
Jobs per 1000 working
Number of jobs
Use this data source
BLS
Number of Sheet Metal Workers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.02.5
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where sheet metal workers earn the highest salaries. There are several choices for which data we consider and how we view that data, and each can lead to different conclusions, so please read on...
Median salary versus state ratio

We use two methods to compare salaries across states:

  • In-state comparisons: the ratio of median (middle) salaries for sheet metal workers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for sheet metal workers.

We hope the ratio allows perspective about how salaries may compare to the regional cost-of-living.

BLS vs ACS data

We have two sources for statewide salary information with important distinctions. The BLS data is created by surveying companies, missing individuals who are self-employed or work for smaller companies. The ACS data is compiled from multi-faceted household surveys and may reflect the inconsistencies that people may have in reporting information.

Choose the metric to review
In-state comparisions
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Median salary ratio: Sheet Metal Workers to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which sheet metal workers earn the highest salary when compared to other jobs in the state. We think this ratio might be a better indicator than the actual salary for your buying power as a state resident.
Select a state to see local area details
AKMEVTNHWAIDMTNDMNMINYMARIORUTWYSDIAWIINOHPANJCTCANVCONEMOILKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
0.00.51.01.52.0
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the dots below to find other jobs you might like. The dots closer to the top represent jobs that are like Sheet metal workers (shown with a blue star). Look for the dots to the right to find the best salaries! (We pulled salary data from BLS, and they give a top salary value of just over $200K to protect privacy, so our graph would go much higher if the salaries were not top coded.)

How should the career similarity be computed

There are a number of ways to measure the similarity of jobs, here are a few we provide:

  • Interests: Also known as a Holland Code - Are you a thinker? A helper? What fits your personality?
  • Environment: Are there hazards? Will you be comfortable? Will it be stressful?
  • Knowledge: What do you need to know the most about?
  • Physical Abilities: Do you need to especially strong or coordinated?
Ⓒ 2019 RipeData LLC. All Rights Reserved.