Aboriginal Ironworkers
Aboriginal Ironworkers


When it comes to the benefits of ironworking, the sky’s the limit! The industry offers countless rewards to people who thrive on adventure, enjoy working outdoors, and take pride in meeting new challenges every day.

Pride of craft

Imagine the sense of accomplishment in looking up at the world’s tallest structures and knowing that you were part of building them. This is the pride that ironworkers take in their craft: knowing that they and their fellow workers helped build some of the world’s most famous skylines.

As an ironworker, this is the pride you can feel every day.

It’s doing a job that basically no one else can do, and that really means a lot to Natives … That’s the sense of pride with the Aboriginal people … being known as the best of the best.
John Henhawk, journeyperson ironworker, Six Nations of the Grand River, ON

Wages and benefits

Ironworking pays well. Certified workers earn between $21 and $33 an hour, and can earn up to $43 an hour, including salary and benefits*. With overtime, many ironworkers earn up to $2000 a week!

Apprentice ironworkers start out earning 50% to 70% of the full journeyperson wage, with regular increases throughout their apprenticeship until they reach the full wage.

Your benefits package will depend on your employer. Most ironworkers receive statutory holiday and vacation pay, as well as group insurance for health, dental and vision care, retirement packages, and training benefits up to 30% of their hourly rate.

*Wages vary across Canada, among labour organization locals, and among open-shop construction contractors.

(Ironworking provides) good pay … these guys pay you what you’re worth.
—Frank Wilson, apprentice ironworker, Sliammon Band, BC

Career path possibilities

There are dozens of career opportunities in the industry. Many ironworkers are happy to work in the field as journeyperson ironworkers. Others want to take on supervisory roles; through experience, additional training and hard work, they can be promoted to positions such as foreman, general foreman or site supervisor.

If you enjoy sharing your knowledge with others and want to help young workers get started in the trade, you can train to become an ironworker instructor, training coordinator or apprentice coordinator.

To learn more about the career possibilities in ironworking, check out Opportunities.

To start at the bottom and go right to the top … is a tremendous accomplishment.
Joseph Norton, retired journeyperson ironworker and ironworker foreman, Kahnawake Mohawks, QC

Teamwork and support

Ironworking is built around trust and teamwork. Talk to any ironworker and you will hear stories of backing each other up on the job and bonding over dinner-table discussions about ironwork.

Ironworkers typically work in pairs as part of a crew. The sense of camaraderie and community that develops on work sites is an important part of the job.

My crew is pretty much my family … We’ll take our kids out together, go fishing. It’s a family atmosphere at this job.
Danny Mellish, journeyperson ironworker, Michel Band, BC

Travel and mobility

With a career in ironwork, you have the opportunity to travel across Canada, the United States and even overseas. The trade’s mobility lets you see the world.

You can make it easier to work across Canada by applying for Red Seal Certification, a national certification standard. To learn more, visit www.red-seal.ca.

… we all travel together and stay in the crew … That’s one of the key selling points of being an ironworker—you can always be on different work sites together and travel.
Jobriath Berbour, ironworker, Haida Cree, MB

Freedom and flexibility

Ironworking can be cyclical: as with most careers in construction, there are peak periods and slower periods. During slower periods, you can spend time with your family and enjoy fishing, canoeing, pow-wows, bonfires and other activities.

Because of the nature of the industry, you have some control over your workload. Many ironworkers choose to work for only part of the year so they can spend more time raising a family or pursuing other interests. It’s up to you to carve out a schedule that suits your needs.

Although many ironworkers travel with their work, it’s also possible to find work close to home. Some ironworkers prefer to travel less and spend more time with family.

There was a seven-year period when I was single that I was travelling all over. I used to travel in my younger days, but I have younger children at home now. (The last time I travelled for work) was about three years ago.
—Wilfred Gonzales, journeyperson ironworker, Squamish Nation, BC

Success stories

Learn what these two ironworkers love most about the trade:

Meet Lynn Baikie, journeyperson ironworker.

Meet Danny Mellish, journeyperson ironworker.

Meet Nicholas Metallic, journeyperson ironworker.