Iron Worker (Outside) apprenticeship

Description of an apprenticeship as a Iron Worker (Outside)

Table of Contents

Iron Worker (Outside) apprenticeship

DOT code: 801.361-014

Visit the Occupational Outlook Handbook for a detailed description of this trade. Type the trade name in the search box and hit enter.


Structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers place and install iron or steel girders, columns, and other construction materials to form buildings, bridges, and other structures. They also position and secure steel bars or mesh in concrete forms in order to reinforce the concrete used in highways, buildings, bridges, tunnels, and other structures. In addition, they repair and renovate older buildings and structures. Even though the primary metal involved in this work is steel, these workers often are known as ironworkers.

Before construction can begin, ironworkers must erect steel frames and assemble the cranes and derricks that move structural steel, reinforcing bars, buckets of concrete, lumber, and other materials and equipment around the construction site. Once this job has been completed, workers begin to connect steel columns, beams, and girders according to blueprints and instructions from supervisors and superintendents. Structural steel, reinforcing rods, and ornamental iron generally come to the construction site ready for erection-cut to the proper size, with holes drilled for bolts and numbered for assembly.

Ironworkers at the construction site unload and stack the prefabricated steel so that it can be hoisted easily when needed. To hoist the steel, ironworkers attach cables (slings) to the steel and to the crane or derrick. One worker directs the hoist operator with hand signals while another worker holds a rope (tag line) attached to the steel to prevent it from swinging. The crane or derrick hoists steel into place in the framework, whereupon several ironworkers position the steel with connecting bars and jacks. Workers using driftpins or the handle of a spud wrench-a long wrench with a pointed handle-align the holes in the steel with the holes in the framework. Before the bolts are permanently tightened, ironworkers check vertical and horizontal alignment with plumb bobs, laser equipment, transits, or levels; then they bolt or weld the piece permanently in place.

Work process schedule

Task Hours
A. Reinforcing 1000 - 2000
B. Post tensioning 200 - 250
C. Rigging 700 - 1000
D. Structural 1200 - 1500
E. Ornamental 1200 - 1500
F. Welding 1200 - 1500
G. Sheeting 250 - 500
H. Fencing 250 - 500
(Every 2,000 hours = one year) total hours: 6000 - 8000

Related technical instruction

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires 150 hours each year of related technical instruction which must be mastered by the apprentice in order to successfully complete the program. The following is a general list of instruction topics for the Iron Worker trade. For further information, please call the Division of Apprentice Standards at (617) 626-5409.

Fall protection
Scaffold standard
Rigging safety
Confined space
Substance abuse awareness
Hazardous materials (including lead)
Asbestos safety
First aid - minimum 6.5 hours every three years

Blueprint reading

Trade Mathematics

Trade Theory and Science
Reinforcing work
Post tensioning
Structural work
Ornamental work

Industry history and labor relations
History and background
Current laws and practices

Sexual harassment prevention training

Additional Resources