The steel industry is at a bit of an interesting crossroads right now, especially for a steel worker. The amount of steel workers has been on a steady decline since the 1960s, but the actual demand for steelwork hasn’t changed at all. As a result, more and more contractors are looking for professionals to be long-term members of their teams. However, there’s always the issue of time and energy investment into onboarding any new employee. The last thing you want to do is take that time and incur the relevant financial costs, only for a potential employee not to work out. As a result, you want to have a key understanding of the essential points to look at when hiring workers for your steel company.
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What is a Steel Worker?
In this article, when we discuss steel workers, we are referring to anyone with expertise in the industry. This can range from steel fabricators to steel erectors, and all the other positions a steel contractor may need to fill.
Naturally, you want to make sure that you hire steel workers that are appropriately trained for the jobs you have in mind. This is generally not only a matter of compliance, but of safety. Any steel worker, from fabricators to erectors, that doesn’t do their job properly not only puts their entire team at risk but anyone who is planning on using those structures. This makes it essential to make sure any prospects you have are properly qualified.
If you plan on hiring fresh new talent, one of the first things you are going to want to look at is the path they took to their steel worker apprenticeships. There are a few ways one can do this, and all of them are legitimate. Some decide to try and enter the world of steel working right out of high school, perhaps leveraging a connection to get an apprenticeship right away. Others opt to try and get further education first, perhaps getting training at a trade school or community college first. Either option is a legitimate one. What you want to look for is the nature of the apprenticeship and some of the key skills they learned. Anyone coming to work for you out of their apprenticeship should have a basic command of the following skills:
— Ability to use tools relevant to their jobs such as welding equipment, jacks, and shears.
— Ability to read and comprehend blueprints.
— Knowledge of current safety regulations.
— Ability to work at heights if they will be on job sites.
There are other desirable skills, such as the ability to use office or project management software, but because these can be different for each company, you will likely have to handle onboarding there.
If you are hiring a more experienced professional, you want to make sure that they have a solid work record throughout their career. What companies did they work at? What projects were they a part of in their time there? In some cases, aspects of the resume can reveal details that don’t come up at first. For example, multiple quick swaps between companies or job sites may belie deeper issues.
When they have the base qualifications you are looking for, the next step is making sure the prospect’s skill set makes them an ideal fit for your planned job. As a result, you need to be asking not just “what does a steel worker do?” but also what you need steel workers in your company to be doing. The dichotomy between a steel erector and steel fabricator is a perfect example.
For example, a steel erector or structural tech needs to actually place, erect, and join girders and columns to create steel frameworks. On the other hand, a structural steel fabricator or fitter technically isn’t working out in the field. Instead, they are working in shops off-site to create the plans and shop drawings for projects based on the client’s specifications. This generally requires a whole different skill set and training. As a result, you need to be specific when putting together your job listings. Interviewing a client that’s a poor match wastes everyone’s time, and could give you a bad reputation among job seekers.
Finally, there are certain items that you can’t put into words when it comes to hiring a good steel worker. Certain personality traits can potentially make the difference between two other equally qualified candidates. The interview and application process are great times for you to try and see if your prospects have some of these traits:
A strong work ethic
Even when managed well, steel work can be arduous. You want someone who welcomes that challenge.
It’s impossible to do any work on a job site alone. You want someone who is amiable and a good communicator to make the process easier.
There are always going to be small hitches in a large project. You want a team that can quickly adapt while still complying to safety regulations.
Certain physical abilities/fitness
To be fair, this last point isn’t a personality trait. However, there is a certain degree of physical capability required to be a steel worker due to the weight of the materials involved.
Final Thoughts on Hiring a Steel Worker
From steel worker salary to essential personality traits for the job, there are a lot of different elements you need to juggle when hiring as a steel contractor. However, you can’t ignore what happens after you hire them, either. Even if you have someone that’s perfectly qualified and hardworking, you still want to ensure that they are as efficient a worker as possible. This means properly using any equipment they are charged with, as well as handling their job duties in a timely manner.
Of course, it can be hard for office teams to keep track of an ironworker out in the field. That is, unless you have project management software like eSUB. On top of financial tools, we offer a suite of capabilities to help drive your workplace efficiency out on the job site. This can include tracking your employees to make sure they are handling tasks in a timely fashion, as well as making sure that your equipment is always accounted for.