How to Become a Metal Fabricator in the US

How to Become a Metal Fabricator in the US

Metal fabricators cut, shape, drill, weld and otherwise manipulate various types of metal to work them into the shapes and forms required for the projects they are working on. The job is manual and involves working with machinery and an assortment of equipment from plans and technical drawings.

 What Does a Metal Fabricator Do?

  • Read and interpret technical drawings, blueprints or schematics so that they can work the metal into the desired products such as girders, automotive and ship parts
  • Operate fabrication software to assist in the process, particularly when fabricating fine pieces such as sheet metal
  • Operate brake presses, cutters, grinders, shears, saws, fuel-cutting torches and other machinery to fabricate the metal
  • Weld, solder or rivet metal pieces to join them together



  • There is no requirement for formal education at a university to become a fabricator. However, you must have at least obtained a high school diploma or GED to be eligible for an apprenticeship program. You need to take shop courses, mathematics and physics as the foundational courses to become a fabricator
  • You will need to undergo an apprenticeship program for a period of at least one year and follow it up with on the job training before you can work as a fully-fledged fabricator
  • Obtain relevant certifications such as Certified Welding Inspector from the American Welding Society to increase your chances of securing employment
  • You will also need to obtain a license in the state in which you want to work in
  • Fabricators need to be physically fit due to the largely manual nature of the job, have manual dexterity and mechanical aptitude to fabricate the metal precisely and be able to read and interpret technical drawings. To excel at this job, you will also need an interest in the fabrication process as the work can at times seem repetitive, exhausting and overwhelming.


Metal fabricators generally work in the construction and manufacturing sector. As a result, their pay is dependent on the demand for these services. It also varies depending on the size of the organization they are working for and their level of experience. The per annum figures in 2012 were as follows:

Entry level



Mid career



Senior level



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Work Environment

Fabrication work is hot, physically demanding and often dangerous due to the machinery, equipment and temperature conditions needed to conduct the work. It also involves long periods of standing. Metal fabricators spend all their time in the plant and do not ever perform any paper work. It is a job for people who like to work with their hands to create products.


Career Prospects

Manufacturing and construction industries are usually hard hit by adverse economic conditions. As a result, metal fabricators cannot actually have a fixed career outlook. Employment is expected to decline through 2016 because manufacturing firms continue to transfer their operations to countries where labour is cheaper. Construction has also slowed down due to the economic recession. Nevertheless, fabricators with advanced training such as those who have pursued a Bachelor’s degree or those who have numerous years of experience continue to have opportunities for career growth.