In May 2004, median hourly earnings of structural iron and steel workers in all industries were $20.40. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.84 and $27.21. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.25, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $33.53. In May 2004, median hourly earnings of reinforcing iron and rebar workers in all industries were $16.90. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.45 and $25.94. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $10.03, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $32.59.
Median hourly earnings of structural iron and steel workers in May 2004 in foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors were $21.81and in nonresidential building construction, $17.47. Reinforcing iron and rebar workers earned median hourly earnings of $16.52 in foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors in May 2004.
About half of the workers in this trade are members of the International Association of Bridge, Structural, Ornamental, and Reinforcing Iron Workers. According to the union, average hourly earnings, including benefits, for structural and reinforcing metal workers who belonged to a union and worked full time were slightly higher than the hourly earnings of nonunion workers. Structural and reinforcing iron and metal workers in New York, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and other large cities received the highest wages.
Apprentices generally start at about 50 percent to 60 percent of the rate paid to experienced journey workers. Throughout the course of the apprenticeship program, as they acquire the skills of the trade, they receive periodic increases until their pay approaches that of experienced workers.
Earnings for ironworkers may be reduced on occasion because work can be limited by bad weather, the short-term nature of construction jobs, and economic downturns.