We've put together a list of questions and concerns you may have. If you need more information or don't see your question, please feel free to contact us.
The International Training Institute’s mission is to develop, maintain, and distribute training resources for union workers in the sheet metal; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); industrial/welding; architectural, and building service industry throughout the United States and Canada.
What is sheet metal?
The term “sheet metal” refers to any metal that can be formed into flat pieces of varying thicknesses. Using specialized tools, sheet metal workers cut, roll, bend, and shape these pieces to make a wide variety of objects, like ductwork, signs, and even decorative art. Fun fact: The sheet metal industry is the only building trade that fabricates what they install.
Is sheet metal work dangerous?
While all jobs are potentially hazardous, the risk in this industry varies depending on which career path you decide to take. Some workers perform their tasks on ladders, roofs, or bridges. Others work at a computer. Regardless, the emphasis is always on safety. Apprentices learn how to safely and responsibly handle tools, materials, and themselves through classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Workers are reminded to focus on safety every day.
Why doesn’t this training and education cost the student anything? This seems too good to be true.
Having a steady supply of well-trained, well-educated workers is extremely valuable to the sheet metal industry. Therefore, our members fund the training and education through hourly contributions to ensure that all members receive the highest level of training.
Is this an industry with equal opportunities?
Absolutely. All members in the sheet metal trade receive the same education and opportunities. An applicant shall not be refused membership because of race, color, religion, age, creed, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital/parental/family status, veteran status, disability or other legally-protected class.
Isn't it better to have a college degree?
College isn’t for everyone. Apprenticeship is another form of higher education for the type of serious student who enjoys math, problem-solving, mechanical skills and spatial relationships while working with their hands in a kinetic environment. Unlike traditional college programs, apprentices are paid while they work and graduate with no tuition debt. Click here for additional information.
Many of the courses offered by the ITI are college credited. In addition to earning their journey-level status upon completion of the program, apprentices can choose to use those credits to pursue a college degree.
Are apprentices a part of the union?
Yes. The union negotiates funding for training and education in the sheet metal industry on behalf of members of all skill levels and years of service. Beyond that, being part of a union delivers a wealth of benefits to members, including negotiations on behalf of its members for better pay, benefits, and working conditions.
What can a career in sheet metal lead to?
Sheet metal workers can choose to work in general construction, become certified in a specialty area, work for a company or general contractor, or start their own business. In addition, sheet metal workers can hold union office, work for their trade association, teach classes, or write the standards and manuals that guide this industry. Opportunities in this field for personal growth and achievement truly are limitless.
Can I visit the training center in my area?
Certainly. A site visit is a good way for you to experience a training facility first-hand. Contact your local training center to arrange a visit.
What if I start an apprenticeship and then decide this was a mistake?
The apprenticeship system provides opportunities to help ensure that working in this industry is a good fit for you. Many training centers offer jobs suited for pre-apprentices to allow you to determine if you like the industry.
What attributes are important for a candidate that is starting a career in the sheet metal industry?
Desired candidates are those who like to work with their hands, like to solve problems and be creative, take pride in their work, work well in a team-oriented environment, and enjoy taking on challenges.
What does a sheet metal worker do?
Fabrication and installation of HVAC systems is an important part of this industry. However, many other types of specialized disciplines are available within the sheet metal industry, including:
- Architectural Sheet Metal
- Building Information Modeling (BIM)
- HVAC Service and Refrigeration
- Commercial HVAC
- Residential HVAC
- Welding and Industrial Sheet Metal
- Testing, Adjusting and Balancing (TAB)
- Sign Industry
What types of technology are used in this industry?
The sheet metal industry is leading the building trades in innovative technology, which is used in every facet of the industry. New advances are consistently being developed to make members’ jobs safer and more efficient. Working with technology begins during apprenticeship and continues through all stages of journey status. Some areas in which technology is utilized include:
- Robotic Total Stations
- 3D Laser Scanning
- Virtual/Augmented Reality
- 3D Printing
- Robotic/Automated Equipment
- Mobile Technology