How to Become a Reinforcing Iron and Rebar Worker

While the ironworker works to construct massive steel frameworks for skyscrapers and the like, the reinforcing iron and rebar worker lays down a rebar mesh for the production of reinforced concrete structures. Done to enhance the tensile strength of concrete to help avoid cracking, the nature of reinforced concrete allows for the construction of buildings that are far more groundbreaking in their shape than classic steel erection can provide.

The awe-inspiring curves of the Philips Pavilion of Brussels and the tapering wonder of the Burj Khalifa of Dubai are both made possible by the properties of this building material. First used in the Ingalls Building of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1903, reinforced concrete has over a century of history already behind it, making it a strong choice for many construction projects that aim to be a little different. As we shall see, this flexibility makes for absolutely explosive job growth.

$38,430
High School or GED
None
Apprenticeship
19,100
49%
9,300
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
The reinforcing iron and rebar worker is responsible for the installation of rebar, a word whose origin is a shortening of reinforcing bar, as stated by the specifications set forth by an architect. As an integral structural component of buildings, this rebar is ridged and grooved such that the metal has sufficient “tooth” to cling to the poured concrete and provide optimal structure.

This physically demanding work also brings with it a strict tolerance requirement; precise alignment of the rebar is absolutely essential in some, but not all cases of its placement. Hacksaws, acetylene torches, and other such equipment is used for the sizing and bedning of rebar before the concrete is poured.

Reinforcing iron workers can also work with cables instead of rebar mesh, which allows for the wider placement of supports throughout a structure, a feature typically seen in structures that enjoy wide open areas, such as arenas, parking garages, and the like. In either case, clever bending and caps are used to get rid of sharp edges so untoward accidents do not occur.

Education

As a physically demanding construction job that requires more in the way of common sense and consistent professional behavior rather than abstract of esoteric knowledge, a prospective reinforcing iron and rebar worker requires a high school diploma or GED to qualify for professional apprenticeship programs.

These apprenticeship programs are required because, in construction, a great deal of things can go wrong in a very small timeframe. To this end, each individual on the site needs to be properly trained over the course of a three or four year apprenticeship program including 144 hours of technical training and 1,400 – 2,000 hours of paid work each year. In order to qualify for such an apprenticeship, an individual seeking to work in this industry must be at least 18 years of age, have the aforementioned secondary education, and be physically able.

Advancement

As a construction job, the reinforcing iron and rebar worker is expected to do effectively the same job over the course of his career, though as a worker progresses through this career, his will find himself increasingly less watched over and eventually the watcher himself. As a worker progresses, he will find himself responsible for the more technically demanding bits of a particular blueprint.

Job Outlook

The growth forecast as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is nothing short of incredible. While the average rate of growth for industries in the United States is expected to be 14% from 2010 to 2020, reinforcing iron and rebar workers can expect their total number to increase almost 50% in that same period.

This means incredibly competitive wages for those who can keep up and be the best of the best. In 2010, the median wage for this career path was $38,430, while the top 10% earned $74,210. Clearly, there is room for incredible growth for those willing and able to apply themselves and become the best of the best.

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