People often ask whether or not you need to go to college to get a good job. Manufacturing and metalworking jobs have come a long way, and while you may not need a full four-year degree to get a job in metalworking, you may need courses in math, metallurgy, computer programming, or robotics. The old picture of metalworking and manufacturing as operating big, noisy machines in dirty factories is no longer accurate. Instead, it has given way to a reality increasingly involving calibrating and programming precision machines that cut, stamp, or shape metal and other materials. Here are some careers that require metalworking skills.
Sheet Metal Worker
This job involves cutting and installing metal for ducting, roofs, and even medical equipment using hand or machine tools. Jobs typically require you to complete an apprenticeship or train at a trade school.
Metal Machine Worker
Machine workers make parts for other machines by cutting and shaping pieces of metal or plastic. This field has evolved to develop an entirely new role, called a CNC operator. “CNC” stands for “computer numerically controlled” and refers to programming that gives machines very precise instructions about how to cut or shape materials. Parts metal machine workers make—even parts made by computer-guided machines—typically go through a finishing process called “deburring,” either on-site at the manufacturer or in a machine shop contracted to perform the deburring work.
Welders and Solderers
These are the people who join metal together using heat to bond the materials together. The heat comes from a blowtorch, a laser, or another heat-generating device. Solderers also use heat to join pipes or other metal parts together. Welders and solderers should have a high school diploma and on-the-job or technical training to perform the job safely and correctly.
Assemblers and Fabricators
This job involves using metal and other materials and reading blueprints or specifications to put a part or product together. Assemblers may also be responsible for quality control. The job requires a high school diploma and on-the-job training. Workers who earn certification and undergo technical vocational training are more attractive to employers—including high-tech industries.
Community colleges may offer trade or technical training relevant to jobs that require metalworking skills. Online guides can lead you to academic and vocational programs where you can learn skills applicable to these careers.