Sheet Metal Workers: Job Level and Salary Data

Sheet Metal Workers: A Guide to the Occupation

Sheet metal workers are skilled tradespeople who work with metal, forming, shaping, and installing it into various structures and products. From basic HVAC systems to intricate metal artworks, their work can be seen all around us. Sheet metal workers can work on construction sites, in factories, or even in their own workshops. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what the job entails, the skills necessary to become a sheet metal worker, and how to get started in this field.

What Does a Sheet Metal Worker Do?

Sheet metal workers work with many different kinds of metal, including aluminum, steel, copper, titanium, and brass. They can be involved in every stage of a project, from the design phase to the installation. Some common tasks include:

– Reading and interpreting blueprints and specifications to determine project requirements
– Cutting, bending, and shaping metal using a variety of tools and machines
– Welding, brazing, or soldering metal parts together
– Installing and repairing HVAC systems, ductwork, roofs, and gutters
– Fabricating, assembling, and installing metal products such as signs, fences, and window frames.

As you can see, sheet metal work can be quite diverse. Some sheet metal workers specialize in certain types of projects, such as custom metal fabrication or restoration, while others work on a variety of jobs.

How to Become a Sheet Metal Worker

To become a sheet metal worker, there are several paths you can take. You can start by finding an apprenticeship program, which typically lasts between 3 and 5 years. During this time, you’ll receive on-the-job training as well as classroom instruction on topics such as blueprint reading, welding, and math.

Another option is to attend a trade school or vocational program, which can provide a more formal education in sheet metal work. These programs typically last 6 months to 2 years and offer a certificate or degree upon completion.

Some sheet metal workers begin their careers by working in a related field, such as welding or HVAC. This experience can be valuable when applying for an apprenticeship or trade school.

Once you’ve completed your training, you can become a journey-level sheet metal worker. This means you have achieved a certain level of skill and knowledge in the field and can work independently on projects. As you gain more experience, you may be able to advance to supervisory or management roles.

Skills and Qualities Needed

To be successful as a sheet metal worker, there are certain skills and qualities you should possess. These include:

– Physical dexterity and endurance – sheet metal work can be physically demanding, so having good strength and stamina is important.
– Attention to detail – sheet metal work requires precision and accuracy, so being able to work with small measurements and details is critical.
– Technical aptitude – you’ll need to be able to use a variety of tools and machines, as well as read blueprints and schematics.
– Safety consciousness – working with metal can be dangerous, so being aware of safety protocols is essential.
– Teamwork – sheet metal workers often work in teams, so being able to collaborate effectively is important.


Sheet metal work is an interesting and challenging occupation that requires a combination of technical skills, physical ability, and creativity. Whether you’re interested in working on large construction projects or creating custom metal artwork, there are many opportunities in this field. By finding an apprenticeship or trade school program and developing your skills, you can become a journey-level sheet metal worker and build a rewarding career in this trade.

Sheet Metal Workers: Job Level and Salary Data

Occupation Level Union Full-time Time-based pay Geography Average Salary (National) Average Salary (Best Paid) Average Salary (Least Paid)
Sheet Metal Workers Entry Non-union Full-time Alabama $41,246.40 $- $37,232.00
Sheet Metal Workers Intermediate Non-union Full-time $67,371.20 $- $46,092.80
Sheet Metal Workers Experienced Non-union Full-time $81,078.40 $- $-
Sheet Metal Workers Level 04 Union Full-time $41,683.20 $- $38,272.00
Sheet Metal Workers Level 05 Union Full-time $67,371.20 $- $62,129.60
Sheet Metal Workers Level 06 Union Full-time $71,801.60 $- $67,496.00
Sheet Metal Workers All levels Union Full-time $61,380.80 $75,608.00 $73,777.60 (Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA) $66,747.20
Sheet Metal Workers All workers Non-union All workers $50,960.00 $- $46,092.80
Sheet Metal Workers All workers All workers All workers $61,505.60 $- $55,827.20

The occupation of sheet metal workers has different levels of experience and roles ranging from Entry to Experienced. The national average for all workers in this field at Level 04 is $41,683.20, while at Level 06, it is $71,801.60. The salary for Full-time workers is higher compared to those who don’t work full-time. A significant difference can be seen in Union and Non-union pay levels with union workers earning an average of $75,608.00 whereas non-union workers earn an average of $50,960.00. These figures do vary concerning geography as seen in the Best Paid geography (Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA) for sheet metal workers, with an average salary of $73,777.60, and the Least Paid geography (Alabama) paying $37,232.00.

Union membership can have an impact on the salary for sheet metal workers, as the average salary for union workers is higher than non-union workers. Union membership can also provide other benefits such as better working conditions, healthcare, and retirement benefits among others.