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The Pros & Cons of Working As an Ironworker

Jill Caren
By Jill Caren
Updated December 17th, 2023

Ironworking is a physically demanding job that requires workers to build and maintain structures made of steel or iron. From skyscrapers to bridges, ironworkers play a crucial role in shaping the infrastructure of our society.

However, this job is not for everyone. Like any occupation, there are pros and cons and this article will cover those so you can decide if becoming an ironworker is right for you.

Pros & Cons Summary

The table below is the general overview of pros and cons of working in an ironworking career.

We go into further detail below the table for each of the items.

ProsCons
Good pay and benefitsPhysically demanding work
Opportunities for advancementWork can be dangerous
Job securityWork can be seasonal
Working outdoorsLong hours and overtime may be required
Working with a teamMay require travel and time away from home
Hands-on workWork in all weather types

Pros of Being an Ironworker

Ironworking is a challenging and rewarding career that requires physical strength, technical skills, and a strong work ethic.

Here are some of the advantages of working as an ironworker:

  • Good pay: Ironworkers are among the highest-paid tradespeople in the construction industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for structural iron and steel workers is an estimated $48,830.
  • Job security: Ironworking is a crucial part of the construction industry, and there is always a demand for skilled ironworkers. This means that ironworkers typically enjoy good job security and can expect to have steady employment.
  • Variety of work: Ironworkers work on a wide range of projects, from building bridges and skyscrapers to installing metal roofs and reinforcing concrete structures. This variety of work means that ironworkers are constantly learning new skills and facing new challenges.
  • Physical fitness: Ironworking is a physically demanding job that requires strength, endurance, and agility. This means that ironworkers stay in good physical shape and enjoy the health benefits of regular exercise.

Overall, ironworking can be a rewarding career choice for those who enjoy working with their hands, have a strong work ethic, and are willing to learn new skills.

While the job can be physically demanding and sometimes dangerous, the rewards of good pay, job security, and a variety of work make it a popular choice for many tradespeople.

Cons of Being an Ironworker

While being an ironworker can be a rewarding and fulfilling career, there are also some downsides to this line of work. Here are a few cons to consider:

  • Physical Demands: Ironworking is a physically demanding job that requires workers to be in good physical shape. The work often involves heavy lifting, climbing, and working in awkward positions, which can lead to injuries if proper safety precautions are not taken.
  • Weather Conditions: Ironworkers often work outside in all types of weather conditions, including extreme heat, cold, rain, and snow. This can be challenging and uncomfortable, and can also increase the risk of accidents and injuries.
  • Job Instability: The construction industry is often affected by economic downturns, which can lead to layoffs and job instability for ironworkers. Additionally, some projects may be delayed or canceled, which can also impact job security.
  • High Risk of Injury: Ironworking is considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the construction industry, with a high risk of falls, electrocution, and other accidents. Ironworkers must be vigilant about safety and follow strict protocols to minimize the risk of injury.

Overall, being an ironworker can be a challenging and demanding job that requires physical stamina, attention to detail, and a commitment to safety.

While there are certainly some downsides to this line of work, many ironworkers find the rewards and sense of accomplishment to be well worth the risks and challenges.

What Real Ironworkers Say!

If you want to hear from the people that do it, then below are some links to various posts from real ironworkers who are sharing their thoughts.

Ironworker Training Requirements

While there is some training required, a big pro is the low barrier to entry. This career does not require a lot of training or school to get started. This makes it even more appealing to many.

In general, ironworkers must have a high school diploma or equivalent and complete an apprenticeship program that typically lasts three to four years. During an apprenticeship you will get paid, so it is basically on-the-job training!

During this time, apprentices learn the skills and knowledge necessary to work with steel and iron, including welding, rigging, and crane signaling.

Most apprenticeship programs are offered through trade unions, such as the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental and Reinforcing Iron Workers.

These programs combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training, allowing apprentices to earn a wage while they learn. Apprentices must also complete a certain number of hours of on-the-job training and classroom instruction each year to progress through the program.

Once an apprentice completes their training, they become a journeyman ironworker and can work independently. However, ironworkers must continue to receive ongoing training to stay up-to-date with the latest techniques and technologies in the industry.

Ironworking can be a physically demanding job, and ironworkers must be in good physical condition to perform their duties safely. Some apprenticeship programs may require applicants to pass a physical fitness test before they can be accepted into the program.

Overall, the training and education required to become an ironworker can be rigorous, but it is necessary to ensure that ironworkers are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to perform their job safely and effectively.

Conclusion

Being an ironworker can be a rewarding career for those who are physically fit, enjoy working outdoors, and are not afraid of heights. However, it also comes with its fair share of challenges and risks. Here are some of the pros and cons of being an ironworker:

Ironworking is not for everyone, but for those who are willing to put in the hard work and dedication, it can be a fulfilling career with many benefits. It is important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding if this is the right career path for you.

Overall, ironworking is a challenging and rewarding career that requires physical strength, mental toughness, and a strong work ethic. If you are considering a career in ironworking, it is important to do your research, talk to current ironworkers, and make an informed decision about whether this is the right career path for you.


Jill Caren is an international SEO consultant and founder of 2Dogs Media. She is also a trainer, journalist, and speaker who helps brands increase their organic search visibility, traffic, and conversions. She is also the co-founder of Blue Collar Brain, a resource for those looking to enter a trade career.

She has been featured on MSN, Wealth of Geeks, Hubspot, SEO Powersuite, and other publications for her work as an SEO and advocate for skilled trades.