Before a car, airplane, ship or missile can be built, steel and metal panels, parts and components must be manufactured. The pieces must fit together perfectly and conform to precise sizes and thicknesses determined by their purpose. The worker who makes these metal sections and pieces is called a steel fabricator or, if a variety of metals is used, a metal fabricator.
A steel fabricator has to have skills in welding, soldering and metallurgy. She needs the ability to interpret blueprints and technical drawings to correctly assemble products. Acumen in math is required to calculate temperance and adjust construction angles. Skills in reading complex instructions are required. Oral communication abilities are needed to effectively work with other steel fabricators since much of the manufacturing process involves teamwork.
Responsibilities for this job vary. Some steel fabricators work exclusively with large panels of metal, attaching them together with fasteners or welding, either by hand or machine. Those who produce steel or metal components typically work on assembly lines that turn out screws, rivets and other fastening materials. A considerable number of steel fabricators specialize in the production of tiny metal components used in electronic equipment. All steel fabrication positions require mechanical aptitude to operate a range of plant machinery.
The environment in which a steel fabricator works is normally a noisy manufacturing or production plant. The air quality may be compromised by the petroleum products used to lubricate or fuel the equipment as well as tiny steel and metal fibers created by cutting and shaping components. Durable work clothing is required for this position. Protective eye wear, dust-resistant mouth and nose shields or welding masks are necessary to safely perform the job.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required to apply for an entry-level position as a steel fabricator. Employers generally prefer applicants with associate degrees or one-year certificates or diplomas in metal fabrication earned at technical or vocational schools. Trade unions frequently offer training in steel and metal fabrication. Advanced education in metallurgy is needed for senior or supervisory positions in steel fabrication.
Salary and Advancement Opportunities
Salary increases are generally offered based on seniority and performance. Union jobs may offer advanced training that can result in promotions to lead or supervisory positions. Based on information provided at payscale.com, in July 2010 the annual salary range for a steel fabricator in the United States was $31,032 to $46,151.
- Photo Credit welding image by glgec from Fotolia.com
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