Aboriginal Ironworkers
Aboriginal Ironworkers

What it takes

"It’s nice to know that people recognize us for doing something great and challenging. Not everybody can do this …"
Jobriath Berbour, ironworker, Haida Cree, MB

Ironworkers: Proud. Strong. Dedicated. Determined.

The men and women who work in the industry are known for their bravery, skill and strong work ethic. Aboriginal ironworkers in particular have made a name for themselves as being among the best workers in the industry. They take pride in the buildings and bridges they craft with their own hands.

Key characteristics and interests

  • Do you like being able to see the work you’ve done at the end of the day?
  • Do you take pride in watching a structure you’re building take shape before your eyes?
  • Are you willing to travel?
  • Do you enjoy working as part of a team?
  • Are you comfortable at heights?
  • Do you have a good sense of balance?
  • Do you like working outdoors?
  • Are you interested in physically demanding work that also requires you to think quickly?
  • Would you like to earn a high wage for your work?
  • Are you looking for a career rather than just a job?
  • Do you enjoy new challenges?
  • Do you have a safety-conscious attitude?

If you answered yes to most of the above questions, ironworking could be the career for you!

Educational requirements

Each province and territory has its own set of requirements for becoming an ironworker. In some provinces/territories you can start out on-the-job and learn ironworking skills as you work. In other provinces you are required to register as an apprentice before starting work as an ironworker.

To enter an ironworker apprenticeship program in most provinces, you must:

  • be at least 16 years of age
  • have completed Grade 10 or the equivalent (most employers prefer to hire high school graduates)
  • be in good physical condition

To find out more, check out the Apprenticeship section.

Essential skills

According to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, here are the four essential skills you’ll need to succeed as an ironworker:

  • document use
  • good math skills
  • problem solving
  • working with others

Certification

Many employers will require you to be an apprentice or a certified ironworker (also known as a journeyperson ironworker). This lets them know that you’ve received the necessary training to work in all categories of ironwork. For more information on the main ironworking categories, check out On the job.

To be certified as an ironworker, you usually need to complete a three-year apprenticeship program. Most apprenticeship programs include:

  • on-the-job experience
  • technical training
  • theoretical and practical examinations

You’ll be paid well for your work throughout the apprenticeship, and when you complete the program you’ll receive the full journeyperson wage.

In some provinces and territories, you may be eligible to take the ironworker certification exam without going through an apprenticeship program. To be eligible, you generally need to have had about five years of ironworking experience.

For more information on certification, apprenticeship and getting started in the industry, check out Apprenticeship.