There are currently over 26,239 sheet metal fabricators employed across the United States, with demand for more on the increase. Add this to the increasing demand for HVAC systems, and parts need to be made by someone. But do you know how lucrative a career in this industry can be?
With a healthy job market and increasing pay levels, this could be the occupation for you. Read on as we give an essential guide on HVAC sheet metal fabrication jobs.
Is a Sheet Metal Worker the Same as an HVAC Worker?
Sheet metal jobs and HVAC jobs are very different. Generally, sheet metal fabricators create metal fittings and casements. These may be for use in the HVAC industry but could be for any number of other purposes.
HVAC workers are usually in charge of the installation, maintenance, and repair of HVAC systems. This may involve setting up the required units and keeping them running while making sure they are as efficient as possible.
Units and ductwork installed by the HVAC technician will all be made and produced elsewhere. This will be done by the sheet metal worker.
What Is Sheet Metal Used for in HVAC?
Without fabricated sheet metal, most HVAC systems would not be able to operate or function. The ductwork that pushes heat and cool air through buildings operates with most systems. This seldom runs in a straight, easy-to-fit line and needs routing in odd ways.
Routing ductwork in straight lines also makes it less energy efficient. With shorter, fabricated paths, less cooled or heated air gets lost on the journey, as it does not have as far to travel.
This results in far fewer pipes and parts in the ductwork. As your system also needs to work less to push air through, it increases its longevity saving money on repairs and replacements.
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What Is Fabrication in HVAC?
Fabrication is the process whereby raw materials are taken and through different processes, form a product. These materials may include metallic material, wood, and laminates. Processes can involve stamping, bending, cutting, and welding them to the desired shapes.
There are two methods of fabrication: Manual and automated. Automated processes require the use of computer-aided design packages and computer numerical control (CNC) systems. In the HVAC industry, this process makes the ductwork and fittings for HVAC systems.
Is Sheet Metal in Demand?
Even outside of fabrication for HVAC purposes, there is a constant and growing demand for sheet metal. Used for numerous purposes from the aviation industry to the medical sector, once you know how to fabricate metal your skills will always be in demand.
Sheet Metal Fabrication Salary
When you become a sheet metal worker who has a specialism in HVAC system design, then you can expect an average hourly wage of around $25.86 per hour. This is gross and does not include overtime or bonuses. Depending on where you are located, you can expect to get between $30k to $98k per annum.
This changes with experience. If you have been in the trade for less than a year, the hourly rate will be around $14.46. When this increases to 20 years or more, pay goes to around $31 an hour.
Sheet Metal Fabrication Job Description
As a sheet metal worker, you will operate in a workshop, manufacturing plant, or construction site. Different levels of skill are needed for various tasks.
If you are in a factory, you may only need to do one repetitive task. If you are in a manufacturing plant or a building site, trained workers may need to design specific solutions on computer systems and then fabricate them.
Fabrication begins with these plans, which some people may create as part of their work. They will then decide on the materials and processes best suited to craft that piece. Measuring and cutting are then performed according to the given instructions.
To do this, a wide range of tools and systems get used. Measuring takes place using rulers and stamping equipment. Cutting with plasma cutters, saws, and drills either by hand or computer-assisted machinery then takes place.
Depending on the type of job, the sheet metal worker may also be responsible for installing their creation. Products that are in numerous parts may be assembled by the fabricator and then shipped out for use.
What Skills Are Needed to Be a Sheet Metal HVAC Fabricator?
Becoming a sheet metal worker is often done with an apprenticeship. Others paths may involve going to a technical school or learning on the job.
A high school diploma or equivalent is required for most access routes to a steel fabrication job in the US. Some basic skills involving reading instructions, mathematics, and especially geometry are required. There are technical schools that will help develop these skills to the required level if you don’t already have them.
Licenses and Registration
License and registrations are not required, but they are available and may help gain employment. The American Welding Society can provide these. Another that may be of assistance is one from the International Training Institute for Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning.
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Finding HVAC Sheet Metal Fabrication Jobs
If you think that HVAC sheet metal fabrication jobs may be for you, then perform a search online. You may find apprenticeships or technical colleges that provide courses. Fabricators making the switch may wish to get training specifically in HVAC fabrication.
For all heating and cooling needs, Energy One should be your first stop. From HVAC to plumbing, we can work with commercial and residential properties in the Rhode Island area. Click here to schedule a service or estimate immediately. Sheet Metal Fabricators are in demand!