Sheet metal workers (NOC 7233)

About this job

Sheet metal workers fabricate, assemble, install and repair sheet metal products.

Sheet metal workers lay out, measure and mark sheet metal. They work with computerized equipment to bend, straighten or cut sheet metal. They also weld sheet metal parts and polish seams, joints and rough surfaces. People in this career often work on heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and roofing for restaurants, kitchens, marine installations, hospital equipment as well as other fields. They may build and install eavestroughs, air and heat ducts, roof decking and more. Sheet metal workers may specialize in on-site or in-shop manufacturing of sheet metal products or they may focus on servicing and maintaining installed systems and equipment.

Sheet metal workers are employed by sheet metal fabrication shops, sheet metal products manufacturing companies, sheet metal work contractors and areas in this industry. People in this career work with their hands and with a range of tools. They need to have good math skills, spatial perception and pay attention to detail. They must also be able to read and interpret drawings as well as specification sheets.

Watch the video below to learn what a typical day is like for a sheet metal worker.

 

Common job titles
  • aircraft layout worker - sheet metal
  • coppersmith
  • high rise sheet metal installer
  • journeyman / journeywoman sheet metal worker
  • metal furniture model maker / patternmaker
  • residential (low rise) sheet metal installer

Duties

In general, sheet metal workers:

  • Read engineering and architectural drawings, sketches and work specifications to be done, as well as lay out, measure and mark sheet metal to match the drawings or templates
  • Develop patterns for sheet metal using computer-assisted design and drafting (CAD) software 
  • Operate light metalworking machines such as shears, brakes, punches and drill presses, including computer numerical control (CNC) equipment to cut, bend, punch, drill, shape or straighten sheet metal
  • Operate laser or plasma cutting equipment to cut sheet metal
  • Install and use rigging and hoisting equipment
  • Fit and join sheet metal parts using riveting, welding, soldering as well as similar equipment to make products such as ventilation shafts, exhaust hoods, eavestroughs, partition frames, air and heat ducts, material handling systems, roof decking and sheet metal buildings
  • Install sheet metal products according to specifications and building codes
  • Grind and buff seams, joints and rough surfaces
  • Inspect product quality and installation to make sure specifications are followed

In addition, they may:

  • Work in a shop to build or onsite to install sheet metal products, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment (HVAC), metal wall and roofing panels, and commercial kitchen ventilation
  • Service/maintain installed equipment and systems

Work environment

Sheet metal workers typically work 40 hours per week, but may need to work overtime to meet deadlines.

Work is done indoors and outdoors. It can take place in shops, homes, commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. Indoor work includes installing duct systems and kitchen equipment. Outdoor work includes installing siding, roofing and gutters in all kinds of weather. 

Sheet metal workers who do installation work have to bend, lift, stand, climb and squat, sometimes in small spaces or in uncomfortable positions. Often, people in this job lift heavy materials and equipment. Workers often use ladders and scaffolding and must be comfortable working from heights. 

Sheet metal workers are trained to follow safety regulations and wear safety equipment to prevent injuries such as cuts from metal and burns from soldering and welding.

Parts of the job have been computerized and this technology has reduced the physical demands for workers. There is a growing need for sheet metal workers to have a good understanding of technology and computer skills since more companies have CNC (computer numerical control) cutting machines.

Insights from industry

Some sheet metal workers rely on high-rise residential building activity to generate business. Government funding for capital projects has also been an important source of construction employment.

There is a growing demand for sheet metal workers, especially in large urban areas. Sheet metal workers with specialized skills in welding are expected to have an advantage in finding work. Also, those who continue to upgrade their knowledge and skills—especially with technology and new techniques—are often more in demand. 

While this field has historically been male-dominated, there are now a growing number of sheet metal workers who identify as female.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

With experience and additional training, sheet metal workers can move into senior or supervisory positions. 

Some experienced sheet metal workers may choose to start their own businesses.

Additional resources