When it comes to working in high places, ironworkers is a career to aspire to. The job that these skilled tradespeople do is at the core of every major construction project.
Whether it’s big box buildings like Winnipeg’s new IKEA store or the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport’s terminal building, the MTS Centre, Investors Group Field or the current addition to the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg, ironworkers are the tradespeople captured in iconic pictures perched on the end of a steel girder helping to make someone else’s dream project a reality.
For someone thinking of entering the trades, becoming an ironworker can lead not only to working on some of the most interesting building projects in our province but also to a career that provides some of the highest wages in the trades sector. While a majority of the building projects can be found in our city centres like Winnipeg, there is also plenty of work to be found in other business or industrial settings such as mines, hydro dams, steel mills, gas pumping stations, windmill farms and converter stations.
Apart from erecting the steel framing associated with bridges or the tall buildings we see around us, ironworkers also do all the rigging that is needed to move everything into its right place. They also do the welding and the connecting that keeps everything where it belongs, and construct all the rebar hidden under the floors and in the walls that hold the enormous weights bearing down from above.
There is demand for these skilled tradespeople locally, and here in Manitoba, regulations require all ironworker apprentices to complete a three-year term of trade-learning. This includes both a board-approved program of technical training (in-school), combined with practical training (on-the-job) supervised by a journeyperson or designated trainer. The province’s ironworker trade regulations also establish a rising scale of legally-binding minimum wages owed to registered apprentices as they progress through the levels of their program.
Registered apprentice ironworkers are expected to invest a total of at least 1,800 hours annually in practical training and technical training combined. A general rule of thumb is that roughly 80 per cent of this yearly time investment represents job-site experience.
The remainder consists of a yearly eight-week stint of technical training. An apprentice is not considered a “Level 3 Apprentice” until the total time requirement of 3,600 hours (two years of 1,800 hours) has been satisfied.
You are eligible for certification as a journeyperson on your anticipated completion date only when the total requirement of 5,400 hours of accumulated experience on-the-job and in school has been satisfied, all fees have been paid and you have passed your Red Seal examination. Achieving a Red Seal certification after completing a journeyman rating provides the ironworker tradesperson the opportunity to work in most all of our provinces.
First-year apprenticing ironworkers can earn in the area of $60,000 per year with pay scales rising with time served and skills and experience gained. First Nations people can find plenty of opportunities in the ironworker trade both here in Manitoba and nationwide with many projects underway near their rural communities and in the larger city centres.
As a journeyperson ironworker you can expect to be well-compensated while building significant infrastructure to meet the needs of our population now and into the future. You can also look forward to the pride you will have earned knowing that your hands and skill were part of a team of skilled tradespeople that transformed someone’s ideas and drawings into present-day reality.
For more information on becoming an ironworker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 204-783-7853.