Overview

Learn to fabricate, construct and join scaffolding, structural steel buildings, bridges, ornamental ironwork and pre-cast structures.

Ironworkers build structural components, reinforce steel, post-tension tendons, install conveyors and robotic equipment and sometimes perform reconstructive work on existing structures.

While on the job, you'll perform some of the following duties:

  • read blueprints
  • unload and stack steel units so each piece can be hoisted as needed
  • erect and install scaffolding, construction cranes, derricks and other hoisting equipment
  • assemble rigging to move heavy equipment and materials and direct crane operators with hand signals or radios
  • position steel units, align holes and insert temporary bolts
  • check the alignments and join steel parts by bolting or tack welding them with an electric arc process
  • assemble and erect prefabricated metal structures
  • select, cut, bend, position, and secure steel bars or wire mesh in concrete forms to reinforce the concrete
  • install ornamental and other structural metalwork such as curtain walls, metal stairways, railing and power doors
  • unload and install pre-cast components.

Ironworkers are self-motivated, can work at heights and enjoy a variety of tasks. This line of work is most fulfilling for those who enjoy physically active work and working on a team.

To thrive in this career, it is important to have the following traits:

  • the ability to interpret blueprints
  • understanding of safe work practices and knowledge of tools used in the trade
  • to be able to work at heights
  • strength, stamina, and proper lifting techniques for heavy items weighing more than 25 kilograms
  • good muscular coordination, agility and balance
  • willingness to travel to various work sites
  • ability to work cooperatively with others
  • quick decision-making skills during emergencies
  • commitment to safe work habits

Upon successfully completing the required working hours and apprenticeship education periods, graduates will be awarded a certificate in addition to journeyperson status by Alberta’s Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Ironworker — reinforcer and Ironworker — structural/ornamental are Red Seal Endorsed trades — a recognizable standard that allows tradespeople to work across Canada.

As an ironworker, you will be able to specialize in three different areas:

  • metal building systems erector: you will fabricate, construct and join scaffolding. You are limited to work on two-story, steel-framed metal buildings generally referred to as pre-engineered buildings. You will erect pre-engineered buildings and sometimes perform reconstructive work on existing structures.
  • reinforcing: you will place and tie reinforcing material, join scaffolding, and perform post-tensioning. As an Ironworker-reinforcing tradesperson, you unload and stack steel units so each piece can be hoisted as needed, erect and install scaffolding, and select, cut, bend, position, and secure steel bars or wire mesh in concrete forms to reinforce the concrete and perform post-tensioning.
  • structural/ornamental: you will fabricate, construct and join scaffolding, structural steel buildings, bridges, ornamental ironwork and pre-cast structures. You will erect structural steel components, install conveyors and robotic equipment, and sometimes perform reconstructive work on existing structures.
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Careers and opportunities

Associated National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes: 22302, 72010, 72100, 72101, 72102, 72103, 72104, 72105, 72106, 72405, 92023, 94105, 94106, 95101.

Apprenticeship training

Depending on the specialty, apprenticeship education and on-the-job training will be different.

The term of apprenticeship for an Ironworker (Metal Building Systems Erector) is two years (two 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1620 hours of on-the-job training and six weeks of classroom instruction each period.

Year 1 | Period 1

You will start by standard workplace safety. You will then learn math and drawing interpretation, rigging and oxy-fuel equipment.

Year 2 | Period 3

You will learn structural and ornamental drawing interpretation, mathematics, structural and ornamental rigging as well as structural steel and metal building systems.

The term of apprenticeship for an Ironworker (Reinforcing) tradesperson is two years (two 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1620 hours of on-the-job training and six weeks of classroom instruction each period.

Year 1 | Period 1

You will start by standard workplace safety. You will then learn math and drawing interpretation, rigging and oxy-fuel equipment.

Year 2 | Period 2

You will learn reinforcing steel and post tensioning as well as reinforced concrete.

The term of apprenticeship for an Ironworker (Structural/Ornamental) tradesperson is three years (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1620 hours of on-the-job training and six weeks of apprenticeship education each period.

Year 1 | Period 1

You will start by standard workplace safety. You will then learn math and drawing interpretation, rigging and oxy-fuel equipment.

Year 2 | Period 3

You will learn structural and ornamental drawing interpretation, mathematics, structural and ornamental rigging as well as structural steel and metal building systems.

Year 3 | Period 4

You will learn structural, ornamental and miscellaneous fabrication, welding processes, pre-cast and curtain walls.

Apprenticeship education performance

To succeed in apprenticeship education, you must pass each section of the course and the AIT exam.

The passing grade for each section in a course is 65%. A passing mark on each provincial exam and the interprovincial qualification (or Red Seal Exam) is 70%.

View Alberta's Apprenticeship and Industry Training procedures

 

Training pathways

You can earn your journeyperson designation in the following way.

The traditional training pathway begins with finding a job with an employer willing to indenture you as an apprentice. Once you are an apprentice, you will alternate between on-the-job training and educational periods. 
 
You must apply for an apprenticeship through Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training before attending your first education period at SAIT. 

Admission requirements

To enter an apprenticeship, you must have the educational qualifications required or recommended education for the trade to which you apply.

Entrance requirements are monitored and set by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training.

Minimum requirements

Successful completion of the following courses:

  • English 10-2
  • Math 10-3

OR

A pass mark in all five Canadian General Educational Development (GED) tests

OR

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training Entrance Exam

Recommended requirements

Apprentices with an Alberta High School Diploma that includes the following courses:

  • English 30-2
  • Math 30-3
  • Physics 20 OR Chemistry 20 OR Science 20 
  • Related career and technology studies (CTS) courses
A woman wearing coveralls and a welding helmet poses for a photograph in a SAIT welding lab.

MyTradeSecrets

Once you have begun working as an apprentice, you can attend SAIT to complete your technical training.

You'll register for technical training at SAIT on MyTradeSecrets or you can register by phone.

How to register

Available intakes

Costs

2023/24 tuition and fees

The following costs are effective as of July 1, 2023.

Domestic students

Period Number of weeks Tuition fees Additional fees Total
1 6 $792 $301 $1,093
2 6 $792 $301 $1,093
3 6 $792 $301 $1,093
Total cost:
$3,279

Books or modules, along with other items for classes, are approximately $600 per period.

It's recommended you don't purchase books or modules ahead of time as they might be outdated by the time you attend classes, and they cannot be returned to the Bookstore.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) will be required for the program, which may be an additional cost to apprentices.

Information sessions

Prepare for a strong start in your chosen program or get the details you need to decide your future path.

Our expert staff and faculty are ready to answer your questions and provide information about the following:

  • What sets SAIT apart
  • An introduction to the program and area of study
  • Admission requirements
  • Future career paths
  • Information on the earning potential and graduate employment rates.

Contact

Have more questions?

Technical training at SAIT

School of Manufacturing and Automation

Phone
403.284.8641
Email
ma.info@sait.ca

Apprenticeship training and registration

Apprenticeship and Industry Training Client Services

Phone
1.800.248.4823
tradesecrets.alberta.ca