Skyscrapers and other infrastructures from years back would not have lasted very long without the help of skilled engineering, exceptional design, and durable ironwork. Construction moved several levels higher because industrialization paved the way for metal to be used as one of the staple materials.
The metal iron has long been used for construction since Roman times. Even though iron is really susceptible to rust, it still is one of the most durable materials ever discovered and heavily incorporated into industrial activities. In the 1880s, ordinary bridges maker or carpenters became ironworkers.
Eventually, ironworking became a separate industry and ironworking a specialized profession. They were usually seen working atop very high construction sites, making sure that the iron framework is built properly and strongly. Back then, because ironworkers always worked in dangerous work sites despite low safety precautions, their mortality rate was very high. The IUI or International Union of Ironworkers made sure that the widows and families of the ironworkers who either died or became gravely injured at work were well taken care of financially. Since then the number of ironworkers increased again. This profession’s demand rose and so did the wages. From a mere $2 a day, nowadays, an ironworker earns $24.15 per hour.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Scope of the Job
An ironworker is an individual who constructs or erects complex, pre-designed structural frameworks that serve as the foundations for functional or ornamental infrastructures such as hospitals, bridges, arenas, stadiums, buildings, and towers. These people work with equally skilled architects and engineers in order to build with tough durability that will last for decades.
They are also responsible for rebarring or reinforcing bars of steel and installing post-tensioning apparatus. This extra work gives an even stronger framework for the structure concerned.
Ironworkers also load up, set, place, and unload construction machineries such as hoists and lifts to enable more efficient construction.
These construction professionals are also responsible for building window walls, curtain walls, pre-casting stone and concrete, and making metal doors, elevator facades, metal stairs and metal handrails.
If you see workers that secure themselves on top or below huge bridges and buildings, they are the ironworkers who are performing maintenance checks and re-constructions for these structures.
Originally, ironworkers only had iron as their material to work with. Nowadays, they could already work with composites, glass, concrete, non-ferrous metals, plastic, ferrous metals, and glass.
Types of Ironworkers
There are several founded types of ironworkers these days:
An ornamental ironworker works with metal with the aim of producing ornamental add-ons to infrastructures. They make all types of doors, entranceways, cat walks, elevator fronts, railings, gates, gratings, metal screens, platforms, fencing, and ladders. They also install the needed curtain walls, metal windows, and window wall systems.
A reinforcing ironworker makes reinforcing bars according to the design made. They connect these bars together with tie wire. These are then placed inside the forms already made so that concrete can be poured over them. The result is an extra strong and solid foundation for the structure.
A structural ironworker prepares the cranes that will help them hoist the metal beams onto the erected metal columns. Once these columns and beams are on top of each other, these professionals manually bolt them together with their special tools.
If you want to become one of the specialized professionals in the field of metal construction, then being an ironworker is for you.