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Sheet Metal Worker

Career Overview

Sheet metal workers are best known in residential construction jobs as the tradesmen who make and install duct work for heaters and air conditioning systems. In fact, sheet metal workers both fabricate and install sheet metal products and often products manufactured from other materials as well.

Sheet metal workers cut, bend, drill and fold sheet metal to devise any number of products including restaurant equipment, skylights, rain gutters and spouts, outdoor signs and machine components for uncounted products. Today, many sheet metal workers who manufacture products use computer controlled cutting and drilling machines that follow precise instructions.


It takes four to five years of study for a sheet metal worker to become accomplished in his craft. Classes in algebra, geometry mechanical drawing and blueprint reading are a good start. Some sheet metal workers begin their careers as helpers in a fabricating shop. Some pursue the academic requirements in a vocational school or an online college.

Some large employers have formal apprenticeship programs, usually conducted in cooperation with a union local. The classroom portion of a sheet metal workers education can be completed as a separate process from on-the-job training.

Current Employment

In 2006 sheet metal workers held 189,000 jobs according to the Department of Labor. Two thirds were in the construction industry; 45% of the entire workforce was employed by HVAC contractors.

Job Outlook

Average job growth is projected for this profession over the next several years. Job applications from people seeking to become sheet metal workers will be enhanced if the applicant has some experience in welding.

Salary Range

Lowest 10%  $10.97  $22,820
Median Salary  $18.85  $39,210
Highest 10%  $33.70  $70,100

Source: U.S. Department of Labor

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