Ironworkers can pursue work in a variety of career sectors, including structural ironwork and reinforcing and rebar ironwork. The work is hard and frequently involves being part of a team at high elevation construction sites. Most ironworkers learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship program which requires three to four years to complete. An ironworker's salary range can vary depending on his employment sector, employment type and geographic location.
Structural Ironworker Wages:
Structural ironworkers earned mean wages of $24.11per hour or $50,160 per year, according to May 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10 percent of earners made more than $83,020 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $26,490 per year.
Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Worker wages:
Reinforcing iron and rebar workers earned average incomes of $21.83 per hour or $45,400 per year, according to the BLS. The top 10 percent earned more than $75,190 per year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $24,690.
Foundation, structure and building exterior contractors provided nearly half of all jobs for structural ironworkers and reinforcing iron and rebar workers as of May 2011. Structural ironworkers in this industry earned mean annual wages of $51,700, while reinforcing ironworkers earned $45,570. The electric power generation, transmission and distribution industry provided the highest mean annual income for structural ironworkers, at $68,300. Other heavy and civil engineering construction companies provided the most lucrative jobs for reinforcing ironworkers, with mean annual wages of $68,840.
An ironworker's wages vary significantly based on the region of the country where he works. Structural ironworkers in New York earned mean annual wages of $78,310, according to the BLS, while those who worked in Texas earned $37,340. Reinforcing ironworkers in Hawaii earned mean annual wages of $72,150, while those who worked in Alabama earned $32,450.
New job opportunities for ironworkers in both the structural and reinforcing sectors should exceed growth of most other occupations. The BLS projects that jobs for structural ironworkers will grow 22 percent between 2010 and 2020. New jobs for reinforcing ironworkers should grow by 49 percent during the same time frame. While new jobs are likely to be plentiful, the BLS warns that fluctuations in the economy can result in periods of unemployment for ironworkers involved in the construction industry. Job opportunities for ironworkers are typically more plentiful in major metropolitan areas than in small towns or rural areas.