Sheet Metal Worker

Construction, Installation, Maintenance, and Repair

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    Required Education, Credentials, and Licenses

    • High school diploma or GED

    Preferred Education and Credentials

    • Driver’s license


    • Attention to detail
    • Welding and soldering
    • Mechanical aptitude to work with hand and power tools
    • Physical abilities (extended standing, lift 50+ pounds) 
    • Comfort working with blueprints and schematics
    • Math 
    • Critical thinking
    • Troubleshooting
    • Verbal communication


    Sheet metal workers make, select, install, maintain, and repair metal sheet products, including ductwork in HVAC/R systems. 

    Sheet metal workers are one of several types of specialized tradespeople who work on HVAC/R systems. HVAC/R systems may be installed, maintained, and repaired by technicians trained to work on the system in its entirety or by several specialized tradespeople who are responsible for specific parts of the system. The role of specialized tradespeople is more common in union jobs than in non-union jobs.

    Sheet metal workers need to understand blueprints and think critically to properly install the designs laid out in schematics, including choosing the right type of metal and materials. Heat pump systems may have different air flow needs than fossil fuel-based HVAC/R systems. Sheet metal workers need a fundamental understanding of heat pumps to ensure that ductwork is sized appropriately and installed properly for the system to operate optimally. It is important to be detail-oriented and have good math skills to measure and cut materials precisely and correctly assemble pieces of metal, sometimes by welding and soldering. In addition to installation, sheet metal workers who service HVAC/R equipment ensure systems operate efficiently by cleaning ductwork, troubleshooting and repairing broken ducts, and testing systems for optimal ventilation.

    Sheet metal work is a physical job that requires workers to stand for an extended time (hours per day) and have the flexibility to bend and squat. They need to be strong enough to move and lift bulky materials weighing 50 pounds or more. Good eye-hand coordination is important to control tools and operate machines precisely. Sheet metal work can be dangerous, so workers must follow safety protocols to avoid getting cuts, burns, or other injuries.

    Verbal communication and customer service skills are important for sheet metal workers to maintain good client relationships.

    Sheet metal workers are typically employed at worksites on a full-time basis.  Overtime shifts may be required to meet deadlines.

    Job Outlook

    According to the New York State Department of Labor (DOL), there are approximately 6,100 sheet metal workers in New York State and employment prospects are expected to be favorable through 2030 – DOL projects this occupation to grow by 1,440 jobs between 2020 and 2030.

    Entering the Field

    A high school diploma or GED is usually needed to get a job as a sheet metal worker, or workers can join an apprenticeship program, which is how most get started in the field. Apprenticeship programs typically last four to five years and provide on-the-job training and classroom instruction, after which sheet metal workers may independently perform tasks. Some sheet metal workers start out working as welders or sheet metal worker helpers before entering an apprenticeship.

    New York State does not license sheet metal workers but check with the local government to see if it has licensing requirements. Some employers may want workers to have a driver’s license to travel between worksites.


    In New York State, the median wage for sheet metal workers is approximately $64,500. Entry-level workers earn about $41,600, and experienced workers earn about $86,400.

    Annual Wage (Q1 2023 dollars, rounded to 100s) – Statewide and by Labor Market Region

    New York State$41,600 $64,500 $86,400
    Capital Region$42,200 $64,600 $81,700
    Central New York$36,300 $49,700 $65,900
    Finger Lakes$34,100 $50,800 $69,100
    Hudson Valley$44,500 $69,000 $91,800
    Long Island$42,500 $62,600 $89,900
    Mohawk Valley$36,400 $47,800 $60,600
    New York City$48,000 $80,000 $97,000
    North Country$42,500 $67,000 $76,700
    Southern Tier$38,700 $63,300 $71,300
    Western New York$38,600 $58,100 $75,200

    Source: New York State Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey, SOC Code 47-2211 (Sheet Metal Workers)


    Most sheet metal workers are employed in the construction field, particularly by building equipment contractors whose work includes boilers, plumbing systems, and HVAC systems. These businesses often have names that include “HVAC” or “Mechanical.” Manufacturers of fabricated metal goods also hire workers in this occupation.

    Almost all job openings for sheet metal workers advertised online in New York State in 2022 referenced sheet metal or fabrication in the job title, with the most common titles being sheet metal worker, journeyman sheet metal worker, sheet metal fabricator, or sheet metal technician. Those job titles and keywords such as “HVAC,” “heating,” or “ventilation” can be used when searching job advertisements online to identify opportunities to do sheet metal work.

    Note: construction jobs are often underrepresented in online job ads. Check with local sheet metal and HVAC businesses, local unions, or government websites for additional opportunities to gain employment as a sheet metal worker.

    Labor Unions 

    The International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) has seven local chapters throughout New York State, whose union members are sheet metal workers, and all of them have apprenticeship programs. Labor market regions throughout New York State have more than one active local chapter. Visit union websites to see which unions are active in various parts of the state and to learn more about the training opportunities they offer. 

    Workers employed by New York State or local governments may also belong to unions. Check with local communities to see if there are public unions for sheet metal workers.

    Capital Region

    Central New York

    Finger Lakes

    Hudson Valley

    Long Island

    Mohawk Valley

    New York City

    North Country

    Southern Tier

    Western New York

    Education and Training Programs

    Sheet metal work does not require a formal education beyond a high school diploma or GED, and schools in New York do not have programs that specifically focus on sheet metal technology or sheetworking. There are some schools throughout the state that offer certificates and/or associate degrees in the related field of welding. Other schools may offer professional development coursework in welding. Monroe Community College and SUNY at Corning are two schools that have those types of programs.

    Educational InstitutionDepartmentCertificateAssociateBachelorMasterPhD
    Capital Region
    Hudson Valley Community CollegeEngineering, Architecture and ManufacturingNoYesNoNoNo
    Modern Welding SchoolHomepageYesNoNoNoNo
    Central New York
    Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCESWelder/FitterYesNoNoNoNo
    Finger Lakes
    Monroe 2-Orleans BOCESCertificate ProgramsYesNoNoNoNo
    Mohawk Valley
    Mohawk Valley Community CollegeSchool of STEM YesYesNoNoNo
    New York City
    Apex Technical SchoolCombination Welding TechnologyYesNoNoNoNo
    North Country
    Champlain Valley Educational ServicesWeldingYesNoNoNoNo
    Southern Tier
    SUNY at DelhiSchool of Applied Technologies and ArchitectureNoYesNoNoNo
    The Greater Southern Tier BOCESCareer TrainingYesNoNoNoNo
    Western New York
    Erie 1 BOCESCareer Training ProgramsYesNoNoNoNo
    Jamestown Community CollegeEngineering, Manufacturing, & Applied Technology Career CommunityYesYesNoNoNo
    Niagara County Community CollegeBusiness & STEMNoYesNoNoNo
    SUNY at AlfredElectrical, Machine Tool, and Welding TechnologyNoYesNoNoNo