How much does a sheet metal mechanic make?
The most sought-after sheet metal mechanic jobs bring in six figures. SpaceX, the groundbreaking aeronautics company, advertises salaries for sheet metal mechanics ranging from $89,000 to over $108,000 for 3rd-shift sheet metal technicians.
Yet, if you’re thinking about getting a sheet metal mechanic’s license—or, if you’ve already earned one—you’ve probably noticed six-figure salaries aren’t the norm.
When you’re first starting out, you might be scraping by on less than a third of that pay. Fortunately, sheet metal mechanics have plenty of career options.
Taking advantage of these options, you can advance your skills, responsibilities, and wages—fast.
Do these opportunities mean a sheet metal mechanic job is right for you? Discover all the work entails—and how to find a best-fit employer—in this guide to the job.
Sheet Metal Mechanic Jobs Outlook: Overview
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks the viability and value of different occupations. The BLS projects the job outlook in the sheet metal industry to grow by 4% through 2030.
This is slower growth than many industries. But, there are still likely to be more open jobs than applicants, making placement likely for anyone who earns the credentials.
The average sheet metal worker made $53,440 in 2021.
Sheet metal mechanics can advance their careers by specializing in metalwork in high-value industries. They can also take on supervisor and foreman roles.
What Is a Sheet Metal Mechanic?
Sheet metal is metal material formed into thin, flat pieces or rolls. Engineers run hot slabs of raw metal materials through an industrial rolling process to create the sheets.
Galvanized steel, aluminum, copper, and even platinum can form the basis of sheet metal.
Sheet metal mechanics work with these sheets to create, shape, or alter metal products. Development, repair, and assembly may be part of a sheet metal mechanic’s work.
Sheet metal workers can apply their skills in an array of industries.
But, each industry will require workers to hone unique, industry-specific skills to their baseline craft. HVAC installation requires different applications than rail freight repair work does.
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Are Sheet Metal Mechanics In High Demand?
According to the BLS, the demand for sheet metal mechanics is steady. There are about 13,100 openings for sheet metal workers in the industry each year.
Demand is higher for workers who have advanced skills. Consider taking on apprenticeships to specialize in onsite installation, industry-specific fabrication, or sheet metal CAD design work.
Experience as a sheet metal mechanic can also lay the groundwork for a career in mechanical engineering.
Mechanical engineering roles are growing at a faster-than-average rate (7%). And, the average mechanical engineer makes $95,000.
Some sheet metal technicians become mechanical engineers directly. But, most pursue additional education on top of their sheet metal work to advance.
What Duties Are Sheet Metal Workers Responsible For?
Sheet metal worker duties all fall into a handful of categories. Installation is significant. These workers:
- Fabricate sheet metal products
- Use CAD systems to develop products from blueprints, specs
- Measure and shape products with CNC machinery
- Survey installation sites
- Assess HVAC installations, eaves
- Assemble, install, and repair sheet metal products
- Lay out sheet metal parts for installation
- Seam polish
- Repair sheet metal duct, components
Sheet metal workers frequently work independently. Some are business owners and act as contractors in construction settings. Others work for larger industrial operations.
If you work independently, your duties will include the necessary paperwork to keep your business legal and tax-compliant.
How Hard Is It to Be a Sheet Metal Worker?
Sheet metal work is hard. But, for many, it’s worthwhile.
Sheet metal workers must regularly lift and anchor heavy metal sheet plates. They also need to maneuver these plates adeptly. A standard gauge (1/0) carbon steel sheet is 13 lbs per square foot—or, a little over 40 lbs on average.
And steel may not be the heaviest metal a sheet metal mechanic works with. Moreover, sheet metal workers stand for long periods of time.
Injuries are not uncommon during sheet metal work. So, wearing the appropriate safety gear is critical. Cuts and burns are the most common injuries.
Know that OSHA requires sheet metal fabrication and installation companies to meet safety standards, and will fine violators. In 2021, OSHA fined the company Tri County Metals $122,879.
Tri County Metals had removed protective guards from fabrication machines, in violation of labor safety law. As a result, a 21-year-old metal fabricator sustained a life-altering injury: the machine partially dismembered his hand.
To be a sheet metal worker, then, requires hard physical work. It requires physical strength and alertness, to protect yourself from hazards.
It also requires the work involved in learning the trade itself. Apprenticeships and on-the-job training typically last 4-5 years. However, some of that training is paid.
What Other Career Opportunities Might a Sheet Metal Mechanic Take?
Experience as a sheet metal worker gives you a strong foundation for many types of jobs. The most intuitive options are other mechanic jobs.
A sheet metal mechanic has honed knowledge and skills they can apply to other types of mechanical design and repair work.
Many A&P mechanic jobs take on candidates with sheet metal mechanic experience. But, much like auto and diesel mechanic jobs, A&P employers want you to have an engineering degree.
If an engineering degree is not an option for you, you can still pursue an advanced career opportunity as a sheet metal worker.
Technical, supervisory, and foreman roles are available to strong workers as they move up in their careers, even if they don’t gain a formal education.
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How to Advance Your Sheet Metal Mechanic Career
To advance your career, first and foremost, maintain your state license.
If you have the opportunity, pursue additional certifications as you master more skills. For example, the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, offers certification in precision sheet metal work.
The more skills you master, the more appealing you are to employers.
As you gain new skills, update and optimize your resume. Tactics like search engine optimization (SEO) can give your digital resume or LinkedIn page a boost, making it more likely recruiters will see it online.
SEO strategies help you include the right search terms in your cv and profile. So, when employers are using the search bar to find potential candidates, your profile shows up.
These strategies also help your resume get past applicant tracking systems (ATS).
Elevate Your Career at Energy One
Are you searching for the best sheet metal mechanic jobs on the market? Or, are you a licensed sheet metal worker who’s ready to take your career to the next level?
If so, we invite you to join the Energy One team! Energy One offers an array of benefits and opportunities for ambitious mechanical workers. Call (401) 823-1800 to learn more, or apply online today.