Structural iron and steel workers
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Overview
Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges, and roads.
Predicted employment growth
Over the next decade, jobs for structural iron and steel workers are expected to grow by 13%, and should have about 8,700 job openings a year.
Safety from automation
Structural iron and steel workers are more likely to be automated than 64% of other careers.
Workforce size
Structural iron and steel workers, with 70,200 workers, are near the middle of all careers in the number employed.
Education
Only 4% of structural iron and steel workers have a bachelor's degree or higher.
Education attained by structural iron and steel workers
High School
Some College
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate
Context: workers with bachelor's degrees
Fewer structural iron and steel workers have bachelor's degrees than 87% of other careeers.
Salaries
The median (middle) salary for structural iron and steel workers is higher than 58% of all other jobs' middle salaries. The graph shows inflation-adjusted salaries for most structural iron and steel workers.
This job's median $54KAll jobs' median $39K$52K$38K20142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Context: Median Salary
Gender
Women account for 3% of structural iron and steel workers -- that's a smaller percentage than 90% of other jobs.
Gender of structural iron and steel workers
Men
Women
Context: Salary inequity
For each career, we compared the median (middle) men's salary to the median women's salary. For structural iron and steel workers, the median men's salary was 13% more the median woman's salary.
Race/Origin
About 13% of structural iron and steel workers are minority, and 15% are foreign-born.
Race/origin of structural iron and steel workers
White
Black
Pacific Islander
Hispanic
Asian
American Indian
Multiracial
Other
Context: Foreign-born workers (15%)
Where are the most jobs?
We ranked the number of jobs in Structural Iron and Steel 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 55% of structural iron and steel workers, and 79% have company-sponsored health insurance (9% have dependents enrolled in their employer's health plan).
Employer-provided health coverage for structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel workers who report hazardous or difficult situations typically occurring at least once a week.
  • Exposed to High Places (92%)
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment (83%)
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety (83%)
  • Exposed to Contaminants (82%)
  • Time Pressure (78%)
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings (67%)
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions (62%)
  • Consequence of Error (61%)
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations (53%)
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People (35%)
SOURCES:24.0 O*NET
Salary and diversity
Salary overview
What do structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel workers, and then we show how the middle (median) salary for structural iron and steel workers compares to the BLS-computed median salaries of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for structural iron and steel workers (BLS Salary Data)
$54K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (BLS Salary Data)
$54K$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 structural iron and steel workers, and then we show how the median (middle) salary for structural iron and steel workers compares to the median ACS-reported salary of other careers.
Distribution: Salaries for structural iron and steel workers (ACS Salary Data)
$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120K
Context: Median salaries across careers (ACS Salary Data)
$47K$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 structural iron and steel 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 Structural iron and steel workers (ACS)
Private for-profit (88.2%)
Private not-for-profit (1.6%)
Local government (2.9%)
State government (2.4%)
Federal government (0.7%)
Self-employed incorporated (2.1%)
Self-employed not incorporated (2.0%)
Working without pay (0.1%)
Distribution: Salaries of structural iron and steel workers by type of employer (ACS data)
Following are the salary distributions by employer type calculated by aggregating individual household survey responses.
$47K$47K$48K$42K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000State governmentLocal governmentPrivate for-profitAll
Distribution: Salaries of structural iron and steel 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.
$54K$81K$54K$37K$0$20,000$40,000$60,000$80,000$100,000State governmentLocal governmentPrivateAll
Age and career advancement
Salary growth for structural iron and steel 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.

$48K$52K$49K$49K$50K$50K$33K$41K$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K$120KSalary distribution20-2425-2930-3435-3940-4445-4950-5455-5960-64
02K4K6K8K10KNumber 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
Structural iron and steel workers and gender

With 3% women, this occupation has a lower percentage of women than 90% of careers.

Context: Women in the workforce
3%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Gender of Structural iron and steel workers
Men (97%)
Women (3%)
Distribution: Salaries by gender

As we'll illustrate at the bottom of this section, the median salary for all full-time male workers in the US exceeds the full-time median salary for women by 20%. The situation is a little better for structural iron and steel workers, with the median salary for men 13% higher than the median salary for women. This chart shows you the salary range for most workers by gender.

$42K$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KWomenMen
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. Structural iron and steel workers have one of the middle percentage increases for men's salary, with the increase for the men's median salary over the women's median salary in this job higher than that for 35% of other jobs.

13%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 structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel workers than for 79% of other careers. The percentage of foreign-born workers in this career is near the middle of all careers.

Race/origin of structural iron and steel workers
White (81% )
Other (6% )
Black (6% )
Multiracial (2% )
American Indian (2% )
Asian (1% )
Hispanic (1% )
Pacific Islander (0% )
Context: Representation of minorities in the workforce
13%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Context: Representation of foreign-born workers
15%0%20%40%60%80%100%
Distribution: Salaries for structural iron and steel 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.

$31K$41K$42K$47K$47K$49K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KHispanicAmerican IndianBlackWhiteOtherMultiracial
Distribution: Salaries for structural iron and steel workers by nativity
$42K$47K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KAll 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 structural iron and steel workers

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel workers as reported in responses to the American Community Survey. Following, we investigate whether education level influences salary for structural iron and steel workers.

Education attained by structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel workers

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally required. Courses in math, as well as training in vocational subjects such as blueprint reading and welding, can be particularly useful.

Details: Licensing and certification recommended for structural iron and steel workers

Certifications in welding, rigging, and crane signaling may increase a worker’s usefulness on the jobsite. Several organizations provide certifications for different aspects of ironworkers’ jobs. For example, the American Welding Society offers welding certification, and several organizations offer rigging certifications, including the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators, and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.

Distribution: Salary by education level

What level of education is truly needed for structural iron and steel workers? Below we see the distribution of structural iron and steel workers salaries based on the education attained. These comparisons are based on all survey responses by those who identified themselves as structural iron and steel 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.

$39K$47K$51K$51K$51K$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100KNone (15%)High School (49%)Some College (25%)Associate's Degree (7%)Bachelor's Degree (3%)
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
Metal Building Assembly/Assembler
4
Switching Careers
Most common new jobs
The most common next careers for structural iron and steel workers

What jobs will most structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel workers reported holding in their second year's survey. Is your future job on this list?

Structural iron and steel workersConstruction laborersReinforcing iron and rebar workersFirst-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workersWelding, soldering, and brazing workersDriver/sales workers and truck driversMetal and plastic workersManagers (specialized areas)CarpentersStructural metal fabricators and fittersPainting workersElectriciansHand laborers and freight, stock, and material moversAssemblers and fabricators (specialized areas)Physician assistantsFood service managersFirst-line supervisors of retail sales workersStock clerks and order fillers
Lateral career moves
Lateral job transitions for structural iron and steel 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 10 jobs which were held by at least 1% of survey respondents before working as structural iron and steel workers as well as 1% of respondents after working as structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel 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
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
376,900
$0$200K$41K
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
Construction laborers
153,300
$0$200K$30K
Assemblers and fabricators (specialized areas)
131,900
$0$200K$30K
Carpenters
113,800
$0$200K$34K
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
Electricians
83,100
$0$200K$49K
First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
70,600
$0$200K$56K
Welding, soldering, and brazing workers
51,000
$0$200K$39K
No occupation
Full prior and next career listings
Prior and next careers for structural iron and steel workers: full listings

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

Choose which type of transition to view
Prior jobs
Next jobs
Prior careers for structural iron and steel 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?
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
376,900
$0$200K$41K
1.5%
Stock clerks and order fillers
269,400
$0$200K$26K
1.0%
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives
197,500
$0$200K$61K
1.4%
Construction laborers
153,300
$0$200K$30K
5.8%
Assemblers and fabricators (specialized areas)
131,900
$0$200K$30K
1.6%
Carpenters
113,800
$0$200K$34K
1.1%
Managers (specialized areas)
84,000
$0$200K$72K
2.5%
Electricians
83,100
$0$200K$49K
2.6%
First-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers
70,600
$0$200K$56K
2.8%
Designers
61,700
$0$200K$51K
1.4%
First-line supervisors of production and operating workers
59,500
$0$200K$53K
1.0%
Welding, soldering, and brazing workers
51,000
$0$200K$39K
6.0%
Construction trade helpers
37,700
$0$200K$25K
1.3%
Community and Social Service Specialists
31,300
$0$200K$42K
1.1%
Installation, maintenance, and repair workers
22,800
$0$200K$39K
1.2%
Highway maintenance workers
16,500
$0$200K$39K
1.2%
Industrial production managers
11,700
$0$200K$74K
1.4%
Structural iron and steel workers
8,700
$0$200K$47K
39.1%
Statistical assistants
1,600
$0$200K$46K
1.2%
No occupation
13.0%
Read about structural iron and steel workers
Responsibilities and activities
Responsibilities and activities

Ironworkers typically do the following:

  • Read and follow blueprints, sketches, and other instructions
  • Unload and stack prefabricated iron and steel so that it can be lifted with slings
  • Signal crane operators who lift and position structural and reinforcing iron and steel
  • Use shears, rod-bending machines, and welding equipment to cut, bend, and weld the structural and reinforcing iron and steel
  • Align structural and reinforcing iron and steel vertically and horizontally, using tag lines, plumb bobs, lasers, and levels
  • Connect iron and steel with bolts, wire, or welds

Structural and reinforcing iron and steel are important components of buildings, bridges, roads, and other structures. Even though the primary metal involved in this work is steel, workers often are known as ironworkers or erectors. Most of the work involves erecting new structures, but some ironworkers may also help in the demolition, decommissioning, and rehabilitation of older buildings and bridges.

When building tall structures such as skyscrapers, structural iron and steel workers erect steel frames and assemble the cranes and derricks that move materials and equipment around the construction site. Workers connect precut steel columns, beams, and girders, using tools like shears, torches, welding equipment, and hand tools. A few ironworkers install precast walls or work with wood or composite materials.

Reinforcing iron and rebar workers use one of three different materials to support concrete:

  • Reinforcing steel (rebar) is used to strengthen the concrete that forms highways, buildings, bridges, and other structures. These workers are sometimes called rod busters, in reference to rods of rebar.
  • Cables are used to reinforce concrete by pre- or post-tensioning. These techniques allow designers to create larger open areas in a building because supports can be placed farther apart. As a result, pre- and post-tensioning are commonly used to construct arenas, concrete bridges, and parking garages.
  • Welded wire reinforcing (WWR) is also used to strengthen concrete. This reinforcing is made up of narrow-diameter rods or wire welded into a grid.

Structural metal fabricators and fitters manufacture metal products in shops, usually located away from construction sites.

Personality and skills
Personality and skills

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

Balance
Ironworkers often walk on narrow beams, so a good sense of balance is important to keep them from falling while doing their job.
Depth perception
Ironworkers must be able to judge the distance between objects and themselves in order to work safely. Ironworkers often signal crane operators who move beams and bundles of rebar.
Hand-eye coordination
Ironworkers must be able to tie rebar together quickly and precisely. An experienced worker can tie rebar together in seconds and move on to the next spot; a beginner may take much longer.
Physical stamina
Ironworkers must have physical endurance because they spend many hours each day performing physically demanding tasks, such as moving rebar.
Physical strength
Ironworkers must be strong enough to guide heavy beams into place and tighten bolts.
Unafraid of heights
Ironworkers must not be afraid to work at great heights. For example, as they erect skyscrapers, workers must walk on narrow beams—sometimes over 50 stories high—while connecting girders.
Trends in employment
Salary trends
Distribution and trends: Salaries for structural iron and steel workers
Choose actual dollars or inflation-adjusted dollars to view
Adjusted for inflation
Historic dollars

In 2018, the median (middle) salary for structural iron and steel workers was higher than 58% of all other jobs' middle salaries. 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 $54KAll jobs' median $39K$56K$38K200420052006200720082009201020112012201320142015201620172018$0$20K$40K$60K$80K$100K
Projected versus actual employment
Exploring actual employment trends versus projected trends

Currently, jobs for structural iron and steel workers are anticipated to grow by 13% over the next decade; only 16% of jobs are predicted to grow more.

The projected employment for structural iron and steel 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.

2000201020202030020,00040,00060,00080,000100,000
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 structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel 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 Structural Iron and Steel Workers per 1,000 workers (BLS)
Select a state to see local area details
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0.00.51.01.52.0
Salary
Salaries by state
Let's get a feel for where structural iron and steel 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 structural iron and steel workers compared to the median salary for all people working in each state, or
  • Median salary: the unaltered median salaries for structural iron and steel 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: Structural Iron and Steel Workers to all workers (BLS)
The darkest shading corresponds to states in which structural iron and steel 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
0.00.51.01.52.02.5
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 Structural iron and steel 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?
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