Sheet metal is used extensively in construction, auto manufacturing and many industrial and commercial equipment segments. Sheet metal workers are trained personnel who work with sheet metal, fiberglass or plastic to measure, cut, shape and install these products as components of the final products. Instructions on how to become a sheet metal apprentice are listed below.
The road to apprenticeship
Sheet metal workers are required to undergo apprenticeships lasting 4-5 years before they can be qualified and licensed to be designated as “journey workers”. The procedure and requirements for becoming a sheet metal apprentice are listed below:
- Apprenticeships are available in construction and manufacturing industries with a concentration in the former.
- Initial training can be obtained while you’re in high school itself, where you should choose to concentrate on subjects such as shop or auto, algebra, drawing and drafting, physics, geometry, etc.
- Once you’ve received a high school diploma or an equivalent GED qualification, you must search for an apprenticeship program; usually with a contractor or company engaged in construction and/or manufacturing.
- The minimum age to begin an apprenticeship is 18 years.
- Apprenticeships include formal classroom training as well as practical field work.
- You will start as an assistant to senior workers, taking up menial tasks such as cleaning and clearing metal waste and other materials, while you get an understanding of the equipment, tools and techniques used in sheet metal cutting, shaping and sizing.
- The next step is to move on to handling machinery such as lathes and cutting machines and once a certain level of proficiency is attained, you will graduate to assisting qualified workers on site-based projects.
- You will also be required to attend vocational training at a local institute or college simultaneously, dividing your time between classroom learning and on-the-job training.
- The practical training curriculum during the entire apprenticeship program includes: (a) safety education; (b) basic cutting, shaping, fabrication and installation techniques; (c) choosing a specialization within construction work, fabrication and welding in manufacturing processes, testing and inspection of sheet metal works and installation; (d) train and gain competency in chosen field of specialization under close supervision; and (e) graduate to carrying out the actual fabrication and installation work.
- Theoretical training comprises of drawing, preparing and reading specifications, using technology to carry out mechanical activities and understanding concepts and processes related to ventilation, heating, ductwork, etc.
- Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, you can take up additional certification and accreditation programs which are conducted by organizations such as the Sheet Metal Workers International Association or other government-approved programs, the information for which can be found at the Department of Labor web site doleta.gov.
Sheet metal apprentices must be physically fit, used to long hours of work done standing, good reflexes and an understanding of linear and spatial concepts.