Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters (NOC 7235)

About this job

Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters fabricate, assemble, fit and install steel or other metal components for buildings, bridges, tanks, towers, boilers, pressure vessels and other similar structures and products.

People in this occupation:

  • are employed in structural steel, boiler and platework fabrication plants
  • also may be employed by heavy machinery manufacturing companies and enterprises that build and repair ships
  • are typically on their feet throughout the day and sometimes need to lift or position heavy loads, so the work is physically demanding
  • should be comfortable working at heights
  • must pay close attention to detail and exercise absolute precision in order to create safe structures
Common job titles
  • fabricator and fitter, structural metal
  • fitter-welder, structural metal
  • lead hand, metal preparation
  • plater - shipbuilding / bridges & girders
  • plater-welder
  • shaper, ship structural steel plates

Duties

Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters perform some or all of the following duties:

  • study engineering drawings and blueprints, determine the materials required and plan the order of tasks to cut metal most efficiently
  • construct patterns and templates as guides for layouts
  • lay out reference points and patterns on heavy metal according to component specifications
  • rig, hoist and move materials to storage areas or within worksite
  • assemble and fit metal sections and plates to form complete units or subunits using tack welding, bolting, riveting or other methods
  • set up and operate various heavy-duty metalworking machines such as brake presses, shears, cutting torches, grinders and drills, including computer numerical control (CNC) equipment, to bend, cut, form, punch, drill or otherwise form heavy metal components
  • install fabricated components in final product

Work environment

Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters typically work a standard 40-hour workweek. However, some shops and factories require employees to do shift work. Large-scale structural metal projects may require workers to relocate to worksites for extended periods of time.

Workers involved in project-based construction may experience periods of unemployment between construction jobs.

Structural metal workers generally work outside in all kinds of weather. However, because of safety risks, those who work at great heights do not work during wet, icy or extremely windy conditions. Safety equipment (such as safety belts, scaffolding and nets) is used to minimize risk of injury.

Workers who fabricate structural metal in fabricating shops or factories work indoors where it may be dirty and noisy, with strong odours. Although these labourers work a lot with steel, an increasing amount of work is being done with other metals, such as stainless steel, aluminum and titanium.

This kind of work can be physical in nature, since workers have to do considerable bending, lifting, standing, climbing and squatting. In addition, workers often have to position and attach heavy metal components.

Insights from industry

Of the opportunities that arise in the coming years, it is expected that more than half will result from new job creation.

While the Construction industry is a much smaller employer of workers in this occupation, it does offer work opportunities. Government funding for capital projects has also been an important source of construction employment. For example, the 2010 Olympic Games created demand for structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters to build sports complexes, transportation facilities and the new trade and convention centre. Major investments are also planned and underway in B.C.'s transportation infrastructure, including roads, rails, ferries, bridges, ports and airports.

In recent years, work has been declining in Canada’s Manufacturing industry. Falling exports and increasing imports of goods from other countries are the likely cause, influenced by the strong Canadian dollar and the depressed currencies of some countries.

British Columbia manufacturers are, for the most part, small- and medium-sized companies that serve specialized markets. They are vulnerable to economic impacts faced by Canadian firms as a whole.

Within the Manufacturing industry, Shipbuilding and Ship Repair is a significant sector for structural metal platework fabricators and fitters jobs. Some activity in this sector has moved offshore to take advantage of low-cost suppliers. However, there are still some specialty niches in the province.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

Some structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters may also be certified as skilled welders. Progression to supervisory positions is possible with experience.

Additional resources