California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Sheet Metal Workers in California

May also be called: Field Installers; Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Sheet Metal Installers; Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Technicians; Sheet Metal Installers; Sheet Metal Layout Mechanics; Sheet Metal Mechanics

What Would I Do?

Sheet Metal Workers perform all operations necessary to make, install, and repair a wide variety of goods made from metal sheets. These products include heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems (HVAC); roofing, siding, and drains. They cut the flat material and shape it into a three-dimensional form using hand and power-driven tools, fabricating machines, or computerized metalworking equipment.

Sheet Metal Workers may work inside or outside, in a shop or at a job site. Most shops have adequate lighting, ventilation, and machinery safeguards, but may be unheated, oily, greasy, and noisy. At job sites, work may be done from high ladders and scaffolding or in confined areas. Sheet Metal Workers usually work a 40-hour week.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of Sheet Metal Worker may appeal to those who enjoy working independently outdoors performing physical activities. Sheet Metal Workers should also have mechanical and mathematical aptitude and good reading skills.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

The median wage in 2020 for Sheet Metal Workers in California is $59,388 annually, or $28.56 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

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Annual Wages for 2020Low
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Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2020 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
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Benefits generally include medical, dental, life, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. Those who are self-employed are responsible for purchasing their own insurance and retirement plans.

What is the Job Outlook?

The largest contributor to growth in this occupation is demand for more energy-efficient air-conditioning, heating, and ventilation systems in older structures. Sheet Metal Workers in construction may experience periods of unemployment, particularly when construction projects end and economic conditions dampen construction activity. Employment of Sheet Metal Workers is less sensitive to declines in new construction than some other construction workers, such as carpenters.

Applicants for jobs in manufacturing may experience intense competition because a number of manufacturing plants that employ Sheet Metal Workers are moving to other countries and the plants that remain are becoming more automated.

How Do I Qualify?

Sheet Metal Workers usually follow one of the following training paths: formal apprenticeship, vocational school, community college program or certificate program, or extensive on-the-job training.

Formal apprenticeships are more likely to be found in construction. To become a skilled sheet metal construction worker usually takes between four and five years of both classroom and on-the-job training. While there are a number of different ways to obtain training, generally employers demand more formal training.

Finding a Job

Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Candidates for training or apprenticeship programs should apply directly to employers of Sheet Metal Workers. Community colleges offer job search assistance to their graduates of degree or certificate programs in machine shop or sheet metal occupations. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Union members search for work by registering with their local hiring hall. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Learn More About Sheet Metal Workers