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Jobs Outlook: Sheet Metal Workers




Job opportunities are expected to be good for sheet metal workers in the construction industry, reflecting both employment growth and openings arising each year as experienced sheet metal workers leave the occupation. Opportunities should be particularly good for individuals who acquire apprenticeship training or who are certified welders. Job prospects in manufacturing will not be as good because a number of manufacturing plants that employ sheet metal workers are moving to lower wage parts of the country or abroad and the ones that remain are becoming more productive.

Employment of sheet metal workers is expected to increase as fast as average, reflecting growth in the number of industrial, commercial, and residential structures being built. The need to install energy-efficient air-conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems in older buildings as well as perform other types of renovation and maintenance work also should boost employment. In addition, the popularity of decorative sheet metal products and increased architectural restoration are expected to add to the demand for sheet metal workers.

Sheet metal workers in construction may experience periods of unemployment, particularly when construction projects end and economic conditions dampen construction activity. Nevertheless, employment of sheet metal workers is less sensitive to declines in new construction than is the employment of some other construction workers, such as carpenters. Maintenance of existing equipment—which is less affected by economic fluctuations than is new construction—makes up a large part of the work done by sheet metal workers. Installation of new air-conditioning and heating systems in existing buildings continues during construction slumps, as individuals and businesses adopt more energy-efficient equipment to cut utility bills. In addition, a large proportion of sheet metal installation and maintenance is done indoors, so sheet metal workers usually lose less worktime due to bad weather than other construction workers do.