There are many aspects of metal work to choose from, including blacksmithing, sheet metal work, structural iron work, metal fabrication and computer-controlled machine metalworking. Many industries use metal and require skilled metal workers for construction and repair, for fabrication of metal parts and for specialized metalworking techniques. Metal workers must be mechanically inclined, be generally physically fit, have a basic understanding of math and be able to follow directions and collaborate on projects. Learning to read blueprints is often a significant part of metal working activities.
How To Learn Metal Work
If you're in high school, take a metal shop class. Get a good background in shop tools and machinery. Learn basic math formulas that are used in shop work. Learn to measure, cut, form and weld metal pieces, while learning basic shop safety. These skills will be a good foundation for further study in metal working.
Enroll in community college programs. Many community colleges around the country offer programs in welding technology, machining and computer numerical controlled, or CNC, manufacturing technology. Usually a high school diploma or GED is required for admission. Classes in math, blueprint reading, industrial safety, computer fundamentals, welding, machining and CNC lathe and mills are part of the curriculum, according to the Terra Community College site.
Take classes at a technical college. There are many technical and vocational colleges around the country that offer courses in industrial fields, such as metal working, including Middle Georgia Technical College, which offers programs such as sheet metal, welding, machining and maintenance skills. Some of these schools offer apprenticeship programs that complete the students education.
Get on-the-job training. Some employers are willing to take on motivated individuals who show an aptitude and interest in metalworking, even if they don't have much experience. This may require working at an entry-level position to gain experience in the field while working under experienced metalworkers. This option can be a good way to learn real-life skills while earning a salary. Some companies offer tuition reimbursement for continuing education courses that enhance your skills.
Utilize books, videos and online courses, which can increase your knowledge of basic metalworking techniques, expand your understanding of the metalworking industry and help you to advance your career as a metal worker.
Metal work can be dangerous, so be sure to learn proper safety practices and wear protective clothing when using metalworking equipment.