Sheet Metal Workers
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Overview
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Fabricate, assemble, install, and repair sheet metal products and equipment, such as ducts, control boxes, drainpipes, and furnace casings. Work may involve any of the following: setting up and operating fabricating machines to cut, bend, and straighten sheet metal; shaping metal over anvils, blocks, or forms using hammer; operating soldering and welding equipment to join sheet metal parts; or inspecting, assembling, and smoothing seams and joints of burred surfaces. Includes sheet metal duct installers who install prefabricated sheet metal ducts used for heating, air conditioning, or other purposes.
Titles for this career often contain these words
MetalSheetInstallerWorkerDuctApprenticeAirMechanicConditioningMetalsmithTechnicianLayoutCeilingHeatingBuilderCoppersmithMakerDuraluminFormerFairingGutterHangerHoodJourneymanOutFabricatorWorkTemplateTinsmithAircraftAngleBenderAviationBeamChuteCorniceCowlmanDuralMetalworkerExtrusionFabricationManFieldGeothermalHVACVentilationLayerAssemblerErectorForemanLayOperatorSmithFurnaceShopAssistantSpouterSpoutingFitterTinTinkerTinnerWhitesmithWindTurbine
Education
Only 4% of sheet metal workers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by sheet metal workers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer sheet metal workers have bachelor's degrees than 90% of other careeers.
Employment
Workforce size
Sheet metal workers, with 143,000 workers, form a larger workforce than 72% of careers.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for sheet metal workers are expected to grow by 8%, and should have about 17,300 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Sheet metal workers are more likely to be automated than 62% of other careers.
Salaries
Context: Median Salary
How do salaries for sheet metal workers compare to other jobs' salaries?
Distribution: What salary can you expect?
See what most sheet metal workers earn.
$50K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Gender
Women account for 4% of sheet metal workers -- that's a smaller percentage than 89% 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 30% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 13% 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. Blue indicates low density, with lighter shades moving to yellow indicating higher numbers working in this profession.
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Benefits
How do benefits for this career compare to other jobs?
Context: Employer offers health insurance
Context: Employer offers a pension plan
Context: workers are union members
Worker concerns
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:
Salary and diversity
What do sheet metal workers earn?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides company-reported job titles and corresonding salaries. This data excludes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for sheet metal workers (BLS Salary Data)
$50K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$50K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
The American Community Survey (ACS) asks individuals to report their occupation and salary, and as such includes self-employed workers.
Distribution: Salaries for sheet metal workers (ACS Salary Data)
$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Sheet Metal Workers: Inflation-adjusted salary trend
This job's median $45KAll jobs' median $45K$44K$44K070809101112131415161718$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
A look at employers and corresponding salaries
The donut shares the break-down of workers by employer type, giving us a picture of what employers most typically hire sheet metal workers.
Employers of Sheet Metal Workers (ACS)
Private for-profit (87.3%)
Private not-for-profit (1.3%)
Local government (0.7%)
State government (0.5%)
Federal government (3.9%)
Self-employed incorporated (2.4%)
Self-employed not incorporated (3.9%)
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.
$42K$42K$27K$42K$52K$53K$42K$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.
$50K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000All

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Salary growth for sheet metal workers

Is this a job that rewards experience, or is this job most likely a part of a career ladder? The higher a job's experience quotient, the more experience is rewarded with pay increases. Jobs in the green range have the best rewards with experience.

Take a minute to look at how much you might expect your salary to increase with each five years' experience, as well as how the numbers working at each age change. Does this seem to be a job for the young or the old, or could it be a career offering steady salary growth for many years?

Salary distribution
$26K$39K$48K$51K$48K$44K$49K$50K$33K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
Number employed
05K10K15K20K20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Sheet metal workers and gender

With 4% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 89% 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

The median (middle) salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 19%, and the difference for sheet metal workers tops that, with the median salary for men 30% higher than the median salary for women.

$32K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KWomenMen
Context: Salary Inequity

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 all but about 20 jobs in which women typically earn more than men. Sheet metal workers have one of the more significant inequity issues, with the increase in men's median salary over women's median salary even higher than that for 80% of other jobs.

30%0%20%40%60%80%100%

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Race and origin of sheet metal workers

Here we check out the diversity of origin in this career. There is a smaller percentage of minority sheet metal workers than for 83% 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 (82% )
Black (7% )
Other (5% )
Asian (2% )
Multiracial (2% )
Hispanic (1% )
American Indian (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
13%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.

$33K$39K$40K$40K$41K$41K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KOtherMultiracialBlackAmerican IndianHispanicAsianWhite
Distribution: Salaries for sheet metal workers by nativity
$34K$43K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KAll foreign-bornAll native citizens

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Sheet metal workers and Part-time/Full-time employment

We've found that somes jobs hava a huge number of part-time workers, and that typically most who are working part-time are doing so because they cannot find full-time work or the job they have cannot provide full-time hours. With 5% part-time workers, this occupation has a lower percentage of part-time workers than 77% of careers.

Context: Part-time workers in the workforce
5%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Why workers are part-time
Full-Time is less than 35 hours a week
Retired/Social Security limit on earnings
Could not find full-time work
Seasonal work
Slack work/business conditions
School/training
Health/medical limitations
Child care problems
Other family/personal obligations
Other reasons
Distribution: Salaries by part-time/full-time status

The salary distributions for full-time and part-time sheet metal workers is shown following.

$15K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80KPart-time workersFull-time workers
Pathways to this career
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.

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.

Education attained by sheet metal workers
None
High School
Some College
Associate's/Cert.
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Professional Degree
Doctorate
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.

$32K$42K$46K$45K$42K$42K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KNone (13%)High School (48%)Some College (26%)Associate's/Cert. (8%)Bachelor's Degree (4%)Master's Degree (1%)

We only include salary data when the survey error is less than 20%, so you may see only partial information for some categories.

Switching Careers
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 WorkersWelding, soldering, and brazing workersFirst-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating WorkersConstruction LaborersMachinistsSpecialized Assemblers and FabricatorsStructural Metal Fabricators and FittersLaborers and Freight, Stock, and By-Hand Material MoversFirst-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction WorkersMetal and Plastic Cutting, Punching, and Press Machine Setters,Operators, and TendersRetail SalespersonsSpecialized production workers, including computer-controlled tooloperatorsPainters and paperhangersMolders, Shapers, and Casters, Except Metal and PlasticPipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfittersFirst-Line Supervisors of Mechanics, Installers, and Repairers
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.

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
Variation by state
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
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0.00.51.01.52.02.5
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
Location-adjusted median salary
Median salary
Use this data source
BLS
Location-adjusted median salary for Sheet Metal 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
AKMEWIVTNHWAIDMTNDMNILMINYMAORUTWYSDIAINOHPANJCTRICANVCONEMOKYWVVAMDDEAZNMKSARTNNCSCDCOKLAMSALGAHITXFLPR
$0$20K$40K$60K$80K
Compare to similar jobs

If this job interests you, then use the tabs and education selector to find other careers that might be a good fit for you.

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?