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Steel erectors create the strong skeleton of a building or temporary structure by installing and fixing together steel girders, pipework and beams.


Average salaries are in the region of £12,000.00 to £28,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

Steel erectors create the strong skeleton of a building or temporary structure by installing and fixing together steel girders, pipework and beams.

What they do

It’s one of the most interesting and varied construction careers around because the majority of building types can have a steel structure. That means steel erectors can work on anything from an ordinary house to a famous city office block, a wind turbine to a bridge.

Steel erectors help to build new structures or extend or repair existing places. Steel gives a structure tremendous strength, so it can be built to a great height while being flexible enough not to collapse. Steel is also used as a temporary support for precast concrete.

Some structures rely on temporary support from steel frames while they’re being constructed or repaired. A Steel Erector's role is to fit metal decking, safety netting and edge rails on site in order to keep everyone safe on site when working at height. 

They use different types of machinery for their work, including:

  • Power hoists
  • Forklifts
  • Ariel lifts

They usually work in teams using powered and hand tools to bolt the steelwork together. With specialist training they can carry out fabrication and modification work on site using portable drilling machines and welding processes.

As with many other jobs in the construction industry, this career is dramatic and satisfying. The working day is mostly outdoors on construction sites and steel erectors obviously need a good head for heights.

Typical duties include:

  • Planning the layout of the structure using the drawings of construction engineering professionals prior to assembly
  • Working at increasingly high levels using elevated work platforms and scissor lifts
  • Aligning the steel components with tower cranes
  • Laying metal decking
  • Fixing safety netting and edge rails
  • Working out how to fit the steelwork together following engineers' instructions
  • Lifting and guiding components into position with tower cranes
  • Lining up and levelling steelwork before bolting it in place

Hours & Salary:

  • Newly trained steel erectors can earn in the region of £12,000 - £16,000
  • Trained with experience steel erectors can earn in the region of £24,000 - £32,500
  • Senior or master craft steel erectors can earn in the region of £32,000 - £42,500

Salaries depend on location, employer, level of responsibility and the amount of overtime worked. Self-employed steel erectors set their own pay rates


 

Learn about some of the misconceptions surrounding construction jobs and construction apprenticeships with our Mythbuster.

You can also take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

I work for a large structural steel company. They are involved in anything to do with structural steelwork and have worked on large projects such as the Olympic stadium, Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, The Shard in London and the Leadenhall Building (Cheesegrater) in London.

It can really vary from day to day, like a lot of construction industry jobs. The main part of my role involves bolting together pieces of steel to create a structure or framework for a building before they put on the cladding or brickwork. We use cherry pickers (elevated work platforms) when working at heights and we use tools such as spanners and hammers. My job also involves driving a forklift truck to offload materials from delivery.

How did you get started?

When I first started I worked for two years in the steel fabrication shop and then I moved into steel erecting. I really liked working outside as a steel erector so I stayed in this job. I’ve been doing it for 32 years now.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I really like being outdoors. I’m an outdoors type of person. I also like this job because you’re working in lots of different places. I’m working in Manchester now on the Carrington Power Station. It was an old coal-fired power station and it’s being converted to gas. I’ve also done a lot of work in London.

What skills do you need?

You need to be comfortable working at heights, sometimes working away from home and travelling, and working all year round outside in all conditions.

What makes you proud?

The fact that I’ve done all the training and qualifications I need for my job so I can work well and safely. The training/qualifications I have done include:

NVQ 3 in Steel Erection. This helps my company when they’re tendering (putting in a quote) for a construction project as it indicates that all the employees who will be working on that project are properly trained and qualified.

I’ve also got my Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) Card and my Construction Plant Certification Scheme (CPCS) Card. I’ve also done my Senior Banksman training, which means I can do things such as direct a crane and help reverse lorries on a construction site. 

Big ambition?

I’m happy to continue working as a steel erector and hopefully have an early retirement!

Any advice on how to get into construction?

It’s a good industry to work in and it’s picking up now so it should provide you with continuous work. The industry has also really improved in terms of training and health and safety. It’s a much safer industry to work in now and if you join the industry you will hopefully be well trained.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which of the many construction careers is right for you

Qualifications & Training

There are no formal requirements to enter training as a steel erector but it helps when looking for work to have GCSEs (grades A-E) or equivalent in subjects such as maths, English, science and technology. Employers often look for people with some on-site experience, so if you haven’t worked in construction before you could work as an assistant to start with. Then your employer might train you in steel erection.

Construction apprenticeships are a common way into this career. Getting on to an apprenticeship scheme usually involves taking a selection test. As an apprentice, you study towards NVQ/SVQ Level 2 and 3, including:

  • NVQ in Steel Erecting Level 2
  • NVQ in Constructing Capital Plant Steel Structures (Erecting) Level 3
  • NVQ in Constructional Steelwork Site Operations Level 2 (with options in Erecting Structural Steelwork and Installing Metal Floor Decking).
  • Controlling Lifting Operations L2 Slinger Signaller and L3 Supervising Lifting Operations

Apprentices learn a range of techniques and procedures relating to steel erecting, ranging from cutting and shaping steel; installing in-situ and/or prefabricated steel; using power tools; operating powered access equipment (mobile platforms and cherry pickers); and safe working practices. They work towards Functional Skills Level 1 (application of numbers and communication) and the ConstructionSkills Health and Safety Test.

A Powered Access Licence (PAL) is useful for this kind of work. Contractors recognise it as proof that you can operate mobile elevated work platforms on site. Most construction and engineering firms now insist that site workers have a CSCS card or are part of a related scheme. The card is proof of your skills and competence. Getting a card means passing a health and safety assessment and having a relevant NVQ (or equivalent qualification).

If you’re working without qualifications, you might be able to do On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT) or Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) to get your NVQ and card. 

Head to the Careers Explorer A-Z for information on the whole range of jobs in the construction industry on offer

 

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 

Indeed

Total Jobs

The number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted.

Head to our Resource Library for loads of materials to help employers and educators promote construction careers

Career trends and forecasts

1,850 total people needed

According to the latest Construction Skills Network research, the UK construction industry will need a total of 370 Steel Erectors/Structural Fabrication people every year between 2017- 2021. The highest demand for these construction jobs will be in the West Midlands followed by North East, South East, North West and Scotland.

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