How to Become a Sheet Metal Apprentice

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Becoming a sheet metal apprentice requires participation in a 4-year program. The sheet metal apprentice will be able to join a sheet metal union during the training program. Physical ability to perform the necessary job tasks, and some background or training in industrial arts is expected of the apprentice.

Things You'll Need

  • High school diploma
  • Searching for an apprentice program and understanding the expectations of the apprenticeship is the first step in the potentially 4- to 5-year process. All apprentices must possess a high school diploma or equivalent to be considered for a sheet metal apprenticeship program. Vocational schools and 2-year college industrial arts programs typically offer career assistance and job fairs. Potential apprentices can network at these types of functions with recruiters and master metalworkers.

  • Learning the basics of sheet metal work will be the first task an apprentice will be required to complete. Installation of heating and ventilation duct systems, siding, railroad car repair, and customizing equipment are typical hands-on experiences a beginner will assist on during the initial weeks of training.

  • Studying metal working plans and illustrated specifications related to the job will begin after the apprentice has demonstrated basic sheet metal skills. Fabrication techniques will continue to be a part of daily training while learning how to interpret repair and materials plans.

  • Becoming familiar with computerized and digital metalworking equipment will require at least a basic knowledge of technology. Taking a computer course prior to beginning the internship is recommended for apprentices who do not possess any computer skills. Utilizing and understanding measuring devices and entering calculations into a computer, and coordinating metal cuts and stamps through computer use involves math skills as well. A basic understanding of general math and geometry will aid apprentices during this phase of training.

  • Manufacturing of large sheet metal pieces, such as roofs and industrial fabrication is the longest portion of the learning process. During this portion of the training, an apprentice will be responsible for programming measurements, cuts, stamps and movement of the pieces through the computer control system. Lifting heavy materials and working with large equipment will be physically draining during this phase of training.

  • Earning money while participating in an apprenticeship is possible, but not always offered. Apprentices will spend time completing on the job training, as well as traditional classroom learning. Mechanical drawings, physics, blueprint creating and reading are some of the courses that an apprentice will have to pass to successfully complete the program.

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