Race car

Is Metal Fabrication a Good Career Path? (What You Need to Know)

Nov 20, 2023 | Careers

Imagine a race car rips into Turn 1 at Indy going 230 mph one day, then a rocket blasts off into the sky leaving the Earth behind the next. Wouldn’t it be cool if you played a part in making those things happen? Believe it or not, you can. 

Metal Fabrication is a good career path for a lot of people, yet they don’t often consider it. Fabricators play a vital role in building incredible things. They are creators who take an inert piece of metal and transform it into something that has importance and purpose.  

When a manufacturer needs a unique part for a product they’re building, but doesn’t know the best way to build one, they send their drawings to a fabrication company. 

The fabricator bends, cuts, welds, and assembles each part, and quite often, they use their experience to identify any potential design improvements.  

Whether you’re a high school student who isn’t sure what career you want to pursue or you’re in the middle of a career but are considering a change, there are plenty of job opportunities to go around. 

If you’re trying to figure out what your next job will be, check out these five reasons metal fabrication could be what you are looking for.

5 rewarding benefits of a career in metal fabrication 

It may sound too good to be true, but there is a job out there where someone pays you to spend your days building stuff. Take a look at what you get to do as a fabricator. 

  1. You will work on some really cool projects (and some of them are classified)

Each fabrication shop has a variety of companies they work with. You can never tell from the outside what’s being built inside the walls. 

Some companies work with manufacturers to build machines. Others work with aerospace companies to make components for aircraft and spaceships. Usually, shops will get a bunch of different work from a lot of different companies. 

You’ll get plans to follow. But as you get more experience, some projects will rely on you to figure out the best way or best material to construct the part. Engineers value the expertise that only someone with practical experience can bring to a project. 

The machines and tools in fabrication shops are pretty cool, too. You will find water jets and lasers cutting material. Welders will be throwing sparks. And sometimes the brute force of a bending machine or hammer will do the trick.  

  1. You don’t need a college diploma (or a mountain of debt)

One of the biggest benefits of a career in metal fabrication is you get all of this without needing a 4-year degree. 

The fabrication industry employs people with a wide range of educational achievements. You will find workers with technical certifications outnumber engineers with advanced degrees. There is a great need for people who can read blueprints, understand material qualities, and make a nice weld. 

Those who wish to become fabricators usually go to a local college or vocational school that offers a fabrication program. These usually only take a couple years to complete. In the end, you graduate with practical skills for the job you want. 

With a career in metal fabrication, you can get to work faster and begin earning money straight away. 

  1. You’ll be way above minimum wage

Speaking of getting paid, the average fabricator makes around $45,000 a year. Entry-level positions tend to pay less, but can still start in the $12-$15/hr range. 

You have opportunities to increase your earning potential within the industry as well. For example, certifications for welding and CNC machining will get you farther up the pay scale.

While educational requirements (and costs) are going up in other careers, metal fabrication rewards experience and versatility. With experience, you can plan on making a very good living, while earning above the average.

  1. You get to work with some awesome companies

Fabrication shops do a lot of different work for a variety of clients. It’s normal to work on projects from many industries. Orders may come in requesting parts for a local manufacturer, or a bridge project out of state. Aerospace companies also work with fabrication shops all over North America to build spacecraft and airplane parts.

Fabrication companies don’t always advertise the projects they do or who they are working with. You will be working for a local company, but you could be building essential components for projects all over the world. 

The best thing is, you can find these shops close to home and there is no need to move far away to work on cool stuff.

  1. Your brain is just as important as your hands

Fabrication companies need people who like to work with their hands and pay attention to the details.

This is not an office job where you spend 40 hours a week in a suit and tie behind a desk. It is a career that requires brains and common sense. It’s for people who like to get their hands dirty, problem-solve, and end up with a finished product they can be proud of.

If this sounds like you, you might be a fabricator in the making! 

It’s not hard to get started down the metal fabrication career path

At this point, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to get started on the metal fabrication career path. 

To start with, education is still important. You will need to have a decent understanding of algebra, geometry, and physics. 

Modern fabricators also need to be good communicators and comfortable working with computers. 

If you can tick all of those boxes, the next step is to look into fabrication programs at your local college or nearby trade schools. Look for programs that emphasize hands-on learning. Most schools offer welding and blueprint reading courses. Courses on materials and inventory management may be useful as well. 

Fabrication shops want to know what you can do. Having hands-on training will help you pass any skill tests a company may give you in the hiring process.

Finally, be bold and set up meetings with local fabrication shops. If they don’t have a job opening, they might be able to give you advice on which vocational programs to take. The meetings will also be an opportunity for you to get on their radar and impress them. Who knows, meeting for advice could lead to a job offer. 

Fabricators across the country are looking for good people to fill their available jobs. If you want to live and work in Michigan, you can check out our website at Impact Fab and see what positions are available.