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Sheet metal worker Welder, plater

Sheet metal workers cut and join metal to make products and components for the engineering, construction and manufacturing industries.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £25,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements.

Experience or a college qualification in engineering will be helpful.

You'll also need a Client Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG) Safety Passport to work on most engineering construction sites.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board has more information about careers in metal working.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • practical skills 
  • maths skills 
  • basic IT skills

3. What you'll do

You'll make metal products from flat sheets like ducting, pipes, panels and storage tanks. You could be working with anything from aluminium sheets for street signs to steel panels for car bodies.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • marking out sections following engineering drawings and instructions
  • shaping and cutting out sections using hand tools and Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines, like laser cutters, presses and rollers
  • finishing items with grinders and polishers
  • assembling sections using riveting, welding and bolting methods

In heavy industry, where you might be known as a plater, you could build structures like ship hulls or drilling platforms using thicker metal plate.

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000

Experienced: £18,000 to £24,000

Highly Experienced: £25,000 (site supervisor)

Your salary could increase with shift work and overtime.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 to 39 hours a week, which may include shift work.

Most of your time will be spent in a workshop or factory where conditions can be noisy, hot and dirty. You'll wear protective clothing and equipment.

You may work long periods without supervision as part of a production team. Some jobs will involve working at height.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could be promoted to site supervisor or foreperson, then into middle management.

You could also become an engineering technician with further training or move into welding.

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Last updated: 09 October 2018