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.
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.
Is sheet metal work dangerous?
The danger 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 to ensure that no one who wants to work in this industry is prevented because of finances.
Are there good opportunities for women in this field?
Absolutely. Women in the sheet metal trade receive the same education and opportunities as their male counterparts. As with most construction-related jobs, jobs in the sheet metal industry have traditionally been held by men but that's changing as women move into this field in increasing numbers.
Isn't it better to have a college degree?
Not necessarily. The apprenticeship program isn’t for individuals who failed at college or need a fallback position. It is another form of higher education for serious students with a strong aptitude for math, problem-solving, mechanical skills and spatial relationships. Unlike traditional college programs, apprentices are paid while they work and graduate with no tuition debt. Click here for additional information.
In addition, many of the courses offered by ITI are college credited and our apprentices can use those credits to pursue a college degree if they choose, in addition to receiving their journeyman’s card upon completion of the program.
Why do I have to join the union?
The union negotiates funding for training and education in the sheet metal industry. Beyond that, being part of a union delivers a wealth of benefits to members. The union negotiates on behalf of its members for better pay, benefits, and working conditions. The union gives workers an important, and powerful, say in their workplace.
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 see, first-hand, the state-of-the-art facilities. Contact your local training center to arrange a visit.
What if I start an apprenticeship and then decide this was a mistake?
We do a lot of up-front work to help ensure that working in this industry is a good fit for an apprentice candidate. Many training centers offer jobs suited for pre-apprentices to allow you to determine if you like the industry.
Which skills is the sheet metal industry looking for?
We want candidates 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. In addition, a solid understanding of math is important to many jobs in this industry.
I've heard that most sheet metal jobs involve hanging ductwork. Is that so?
Installing ductwork is an important part of this industry. There are, of course, other types of jobs in this industry. Signs, bridges, medical equipment, roofs, commercial kitchens, refrigeration units, ships, vehicles, even artwork – wherever metals or plastics are shaped and fabricated for specific applications, you'll find sheet metal workers. The sheet metal industry has workers specializing in computer aided design (CAD); three-dimensional building information modeling (BIM); welding; energy efficiency; testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB); and service.