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Ironworkers fabricate, construct and join scaffolding, structural steel buildings, bridges, ornamental ironwork and pre-cast structures.

  • Avg. Salary $64,426.00
  • Avg. Wage $29.00
  • Minimum Education Apprenticeship
  • Outlook below avg
Also Known As

Building Systems Erector, General Building Systems Erector, Metal Building Systems Erector

NOC & Interest Codes
The Ironworker is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
NOC code: 7264

Interest in precision working to align, weld and bolt steel units into place, and to position and secure steel bars and metal mesh in concrete forms to reinforce concrete structures


Interest in signalling crane operators to position steel units according to blueprints; and in examining structures and equipment for deterioration, defects, or non-compliance with specifications


Interest in compiling information to install ornamental and structural metalwork such as curtain walls, metal stairways, railings and power doors

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 19, 2016

In general, ironworkers:

  • read blueprints and specifications to lay out the work
  • unload and stack steel units so each piece can be hoisted as needed
  • erect and install scaffolding, construction cranes, derricks and other hoisting equipment
  • assemble rigging (cables, pulleys, hooks) to move heavy equipment and materials
  • attach cables from a crane or derrick and direct crane operators with hand signals or radios
  • position steel units, align holes and insert temporary bolts
  • check the alignments and join steel parts by bolting or welding them with an electric arc process
  • assemble and erect pre-fabricated metal structures
  • select, cut, bend, position and secure steel bars or wire mesh in concrete forms to reinforce concrete
  • install ornamental and other structural metalwork such as curtain walls, metal stairways, railings and power doors
  • unload and install pre-cast components.

In Alberta, this trade has four branches: 

  • Ironworkers erect structural steel components, reinforce steel, post tension tendons, install conveyors and robotic equipment, and sometimes perform reconstructive work on existing structures.
  • Ironworker - structural/ornamental tradespeople fabricate, construct and join scaffolding, structural steel buildings, bridges, ornamental ironwork and pre-cast structures. They erect structural steel components, install conveyors and robotic equipment, and sometimes perform reconstructive work on existing structures.
  • Ironworker - metal building systems erectors fabricate, construct and join scaffolding. They are limited to work on one story, steel framed metal buildings generally referred to as pre-engineered buildings. They erect pre-engineered buildings and sometimes perform reconstructive work on existing structures.
  • Ironworker - reinforcing tradespeople place and tie reinforcing material, join scaffolding, and perform post tensioning. They place and tie, reinforce steel, and post tension tendons. 
Working Conditions
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Ironworkers generally work outdoors in teams or crews. They work in both remote locations and urban areas, and often work at great heights. They rely on one another to use good judgment as well as safety equipment and procedures to reduce the risk of injury from falling or from falling objects. Adverse weather conditions such as rain, snow or high winds can shut down projects for days at a time.

The work is physically strenuous and often dangerous. Ironworkers may be required to lift and move items that weigh over 25 kilograms.

  • Strength Required Lift over 20 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Ironworkers need the following characteristics:

  • the ability to work at heights
  • very good muscular coordination, agility and balance
  • the inclination to work cooperatively with others
  • the ability to act quickly and decisively in emergencies.

They should enjoy doing precision work and working outdoors in a wide variety of locations.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

To work in Alberta, an ironworker must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 10-2 and Math 10-3, or equivalent, or a pass mark in all 5 GED tests, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates.   

Terms of apprenticeship are different depending on the branch of the trade:

  • Ironworkers: 4 years (four 12 month periods)
  • Ironworkers - structural/ornamental: 3 years (three 12 month periods) 
  • Ironworker - metal building systems erectors: 2 years (two 12 month periods)
  • Ironworkers - reinforcing: 2 years (two 12 month periods)

Each period includes a minimum of 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and 6 weeks of technical training.

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Ironworker, ironworker - reinforcing and ironworker - structural/ornamental apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 19, 2016

This is an Apprenticeship trade. For full details, see the related certification profile

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Below-average occupational growth is expected in Alberta for 2016 to 2020. Job openings are a result of employment turnover and newly created positions.

Most ironworkers are employed by construction contractors, but some are employed in industries such as metal fabricating, oil and gas production, iron and steel production, electric utilities and rail transport. Very few are self-employed. In the construction industry, ironworkers work on a project-to-project basis and frequently travel long distances from job to job.

Employment is seasonal and employment prospects change with the economic climate, particularly with the volume of commercial and industrial construction projects.

Experienced ironworkers may advance to supervisory positions such as foreman and construction superintendent. Alberta certified journeyperson ironworkers who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

In Alberta, 81% of people employed as ironworkers work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 3,400 Albertans are employed in the Ironworkers occupational group. This group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0.6% from 2016 to 2020. As a result, 20 new positions are forecast to be created each year, in addition to job openings created by employment turnover.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Journeyperson wage rates for ironworkers vary but generally range from $20 to $30 an hour plus benefits (2014 estimates). Apprentices earn at least 60% of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 70% in the second, 80% in the third and 90% in the fourth.

Ironworkers are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7236: Ironworkers. 

According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Ironworkers occupational group earned on average from $23.37 to $36.39 an hour. The overall average wage was $29.00 an hour. For more information, see the Ironworkers wage profile.

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Construction
    • Fabrication
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 19, 2016

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website:

BuildForce Canada website:

Calgary Construction Association website:


For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated Mar 30, 2015. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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