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Sheet Metal Worker

Duties

Sheet metal workers design, fabricate, assemble, install, and repair the sheet metal products required in a wide variety of industries and settings.

Sheet metal workers use many types of metal including black and galvanized steel, copper, brass, nickel, stainless steel and aluminum to make products such as:

  • pollution control systems, dust collecting and control systems, air-slide, grain spouting, material blowing, air-veyor and other air systems
  • heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems
  • solar heating and cooling systems and all integral equipment
  • metal showcases, display neon and metal sign equipment
  • metal cabinets, custom built tables, counters and fixtures for hospitals, kitchen equipment and items for the food service and beverage industry
  • electrical panels and related equipment
  • dairy, brewery and laboratory equipment
  • metal shelving, lockers, window frames, metal doors and frames, toilet partitions
  • flashing, coping, troughing and roof drainage systems
  • custom or small run fabrication of a variety of sheet metal items

On occasion, sheet metal workers substitute fibreglass or plastic for metals.

In general, sheet metal workers:

  • lay out, measure and mark dimensions and reference lines on sheet metal according to drawings or templates
  • use laser or plasma cutting equipment, numerically-controlled or computerized equipment, hand and power shears and snips and light metal-working equipment to cut, drill or punch, bend and shape sheet metal
  • fasten with bolts, screws, cement, rivets, adhesives, solder or by welding
  • install and repair sheet metal products and ensure installations conform to specifications and building codes
  • do metal cladding of insulated piping and equipment on industrial sites
  • manufacture and install flashing, coping for roofing applications
  • supply, install, service and repair air handling equipment, furnaces, fans, air terminal devices and split system air conditioners

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.

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Working Conditions

Sheet metal workers work from verbal instructions or blueprints, or design small jobs themselves. They make some products in a shop and install them at construction sites, but other products such as roofing and siding have to be measured and cut at the construction site. A 40-hour week is normal, but overtime may be required to meet construction deadlines. Sheet metal workers work indoors and outdoors in all types of weather. Considerable bending, reaching, working at heights or in cramped spaces may be required.

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Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for people who enjoy developing special skills and putting them to use in a variety of ways.

To be successful, sheet metal workers need:

  • to be in good physical condition
  • a mechanical aptitude
  • strength, stamina and the use of proper lifting techniques required to handle heavy tools and parts weighing up to 25 kilograms;
  • eye-hand coordination, spatial and form perception, good eyesight and manual dexterity
  • the ability to visualize a finished product from a document
  • a good background in practical mathematics, geometry and document reading
  • the ability to stand for long periods, do some moderately heavy lifting and carrying, and work in high, awkward and noisy places
  • patience, dependability and accuracy
  • the ability to work in a construction or shop environment
  • good communication skills

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Employment and Advancement

Most sheet metal workers are employed by sheet metal, air-conditioning and heating contractors involved in residential, commercial and industrial construction. A few are self-employed or work in shops with related trades. Some are employed by roofing contractors to install flashing and coping. Since most sheet metal workers employed in Alberta work in the construction industry, employment prospects change with changing economic conditions.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from$25 to $40 an hour plus benefits.

Experienced sheet metal workers may become specialists in design and layout work or in estimating the cost of installations. They may advance to supervisory positions or go into business for themselves.

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Working in Alberta

To work as a Sheet Metal Worker in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.

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Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a sheet metal worker is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1425 hours of on-the-job training and 10 weeks of technical training each year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the Sheet Metal Worker trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship.  Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative at any Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the Prior Learning Assessment Online Application.  For more information, see the Prior Learning Assessment Online Guide.
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a Sheet Metal Worker in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

  • satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
    Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    - during on-the-job training, apprentice sheet metal workers earn at least 50 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 65 percent in the second, 75 percent in the third, and 85 percent in the fourth year.
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
    - select an educational institution that offers training for Sheet Metal Worker apprentices, and a time to attend training
    - determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrollment form to the selected institution
  • review books and materials required for training
  • successfully complete all required exams

Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information contact an Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.

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Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A sheet metal worker who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

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Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or(work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.

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Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta Equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.

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