Skills Fabricator, Steel - Structural Metal And Platework in the North Region

Find out what skills you typically need to work as a fabricator, steel - structural metal and platework in Canada. These skills are applicable to all Structural metal and platework fabricators and fitters (NOC 7235).

Skills and knowledge

The following skills and knowledge are usually required in this occupation.

Essential skills

See how the 9 essential skills apply to this occupation. This section will be updated soon.

  • Read notes from previous shifts detailing what was done on the shift, where the job stopped and if there were any problems with machines or work stoppages for other reasons. (1)
  • Read notes left by the shop foreman or supervisor with orders for the day. (1)
  • Read routine notes, memos and notices about safety practices. (2)
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  • Read company specific procedures which give instructions about machine processes to be used for particular jobs. (2)
  • Scan Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labels for information about safe handling of dangerous products. (2)
  • Read metal handbook for information on properties of different metals to ensure that the proper tools, saws, heat levels are used for cutting and shaping the steel. (3)
  • Refer to Materials Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to find out what personal protective equipment is required before using potentially dangerous products. (3)
  • Read operational manuals for the use of various tools and equipment in the shop. (3)
  • Read training manuals when acquiring or renewing tickets or safety certifications such as Canadian Welding Bureau Codes and First Aid manuals. (3)
  • Read manuals to make repairs and adjustments to metal fabricating and fitting equipment. (3)
  • May read orientation manuals when training new workers. (3)
  • May read trade magazines on techniques, products and equipment. (3)
Document use
  • Complete machine maintenance check lists. (1)
  • Read thermometer for pre-heat, inter-pass and post heat temperature of steel for typical welding operations. (1)
  • Read and transfer heat numbers to track cut materials for Quality Control (QC). (1)
  • Read work orders and lists to obtain information such as the steel specifications, the quantity and dimensions of pieces required for a particular job. (2)
  • Read shipping and receiving bills to obtain information about the quantity of materials ordered and the quantity received. (2)
  • Obtain information from sketches or instruction cards and read assembly drawings to determine how to put the parts together. (2)
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)labels on dangerous products which include information about chemical composition, warnings and instructions about what to do in an emergency. (2)
  • Interpret sketches drawn by customers or co-workers. (2)
  • May read and match mill test certificates to materials and job numbers to ensure that the right material is used for the job. (2)
  • May complete production cards indicating length of time it took to complete a job and reasons for delays. (2)
  • Obtain information from blueprint documents containing symbols, abbreviations and references to other documents to determine running dimensions, hole spacing, size of bolts, degree of angles, and left/right orientation of structures. (3)
  • Interpret blueprints to determine how the steel should be cut and assembled by integrating plan views, elevations and sections drawings as well as synthesizing information from other prints about adjacent components of the fabrication. (5)
  • Write notes on fabrication components for co-workers and other trades. (1)
  • Write reminder notes to themselves to keep track of materials and equipment required for the next day. (1)
  • Complete production forms regarding hours worked and work completed. (1)
  • May write notes to supervisors to record production problems or recommending design adjustments for production components, such as roof trusses, attachment of joists or angle irons. (2)
  • May write notes to supervisors regarding needed clarification in the blueprint drawings with brief explanation of the problem. (2)
  • May write quality assurance reports with reference to inspection or non-conformance. (2)
  • May write reports for accident or incident investigations. (3)
NumeracyMoney Math
  • May take payment for a small job and provide change. (1)
  • May prepare a sales slip for customers charging out labour at an hourly rate and materials by the linear metre or unit price. (2)
Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Read blueprints, calculate quantities, check inventory and order materials taking into consideration requirements for concurrent jobs. (2)
  • Evaluate several types of chain used for belts in a customer's plant. They consider the cost of assembly, expected life of the chain and cost of replacement, taking into account lost productivity during shutdowns. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Measure dimensions, such as thickness and length of components and calculate the hole spacing as specified in blueprints. (2)
  • Take a number of measurements and perform calculations to ensure compliance with blueprint specifications. (2)
  • Prepare a jig or pattern for making multiple items efficiently by calculating outside measurements. (3)
  • Use Imperial and SI tapes on a continuous basis to measure for fabrication or fitting to specification. Interpreting from detail drawings, cut lists or existing structures, they determine correct sizes and fit for numerous components in regular and irregular lengths and shapes. Tolerances are commonly to 1/32 inch. (4)
  • Prepare cut lists by interpreting detail drawings or existing structures to determine quantities of various metal types. Listing items to cut increases efficiency and facilitates ordering of materials. The importance of accuracy increases with higher value metals such aluminum or stainless steel. The list must be completed correctly to avoid delays, and at the same time, keeping waste to a minimum. (4)
  • May calculate dimensions for some element missing from the blueprints. They use a combination of scale drawings, construct three dimensional components, and occasionally life size models; and actual layouts to determine missing measurements for drawings. (5)
  • May be assigned a challenging design problem involving the transition of pipes to chutes in an underground mine. This may involve differing shapes and sizes of the pipe and chute, and irregular shapes to fit around obstacles. (5)
Data Analysis Math
  • May compare company's productivity by recording the time taken for different jobs and compare the calculated average time per job to industry set standards. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • May estimate charges based on material and labour costs to produce the desired product. (2)
  • Estimate the time or materials needed to complete a job to specifications. (2)
  • Estimate the heating times to ensure that the metal reaches the correct temperature, considering such variables as the size, thickness and complexity of the steel. (2)
  • Calculate the time required to complete a welding procedure, taking into account material thickness and joint configuration changes. (2)
Oral communication
  • Interact with co-workers individually or in a group setting to clarify work orders or instructions from supervisor. (1)
  • May receive information about arrival of shipments from office staff. (1)
  • Interact with supervisors to provide production progress reports. (2)
  • Discuss work flow and exchange suggestions with co-workers on work processes or techniques. (2)
  • Communicate with supervisors or draftspersons to discuss production design problems and provide alternatives or suggestions for improving the process. (2)
  • May instruct apprentices in the fabricating processes and use of equipment. (2)
  • Interact with other workers, for example, welders and machine operators to discuss equipment needs or problems or to co-ordinate shared access to equipment. (2)
  • Interact with equipment suppliers regarding the maintenance and repair of equipment such as saws, plate rolls, hydraulic benders, press brakes and plate shears. (2)
  • May respond to customer inquiries about possible fabrication projects, associated costs and timelines for completion. (2)
  • May interact with co-workers in the capacity of shop supervisor or lead hand and assist workers with less experience. (3)
ThinkingProblem Solving
  • May determine that a piece of metal is not suitable for the job and make arrangements for a replacement piece. (1)
  • May trouble shoot equipment problems and make repairs. (2)
  • May note that the blueprint specifications do not take into account space needed for the weld in joining corners or making angle irons, and draw on their experience to adjust the specifications to produce a quality product. (2)
  • May need to find alternative methods to move an extra large manufactured structure when crane capacity is exceeded. They may need to construct a system using hydraulics or use a skid of ties with appropriate lubricants to slide the structure onto a flat bed for transportation. Solutions may include making modifications to the building to allow removal of the finished structure. (3)
Decision Making
  • Determine the welding process required for particular jobs. (1)
  • May decide who will work on which part of the project, maintaining an on going record of the production progress and making changes to work assignments as needed. (2)
  • Select appropriate hoists, chains, slings or jacks for moving very large, heavy metal structures. (2)
  • Decide what constitutes safe working practices at all times to protect the well being of themselves and others. (2)
  • Decide how to lay out material for cutting to produce as little waste as possible. They base their decisions on experience and the sketches made prior to cutting. (2)
  • Decide whether the fabricated product they have produced meets the quality assurance standards and specifications as required by private or governmental agencies. For example, in compliance with national standards as set out by the Canadian Welding Bureau. Consequences of error are significant. (3)
  • Decide which cutting torches, other tools or cutting equipment need to be replaced in order to cut accurately. They use tables in manuals, quality issues, as well as considerable judgment to guide their decision. (3)
  • May be informed that stress tests show cracks in the weld that may threaten the quality of the final product. They use past experience in recommending whether adjustments are possible or that the material be replaced. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Metal fabricators (fitters) use their knowledge and past experience to develop a work plan for a specific job or work project. They organize the production process by determining the order of the tasks within the constraints of an overall framework, a trade practice or professional standard for doing a job or a project work plan. They set work priorities subject to approval by supervisors. They adjust the work plan when disruptions occur. This may require significant re-sequencing of tasks or rescheduling of people or processes. They integrate several work assignments and deal with possible conflicting demands on their time. These they resolve by following established criteria or procedures for deciding between assignments. Although not a major part of the job, metal fabricators (fitters) will often sequence multitasks for efficiency in completing a project. (3)

Metal fabricators (fitters) may supervise apprentices, assign them specific tasks and monitor their progress. They may also act as shop supervisors. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember specifications of each job when they are working on more than one contract.
  • Recall details of how an improvisation worked when there was a similar problem with an earlier project and thus save time in finding a solution to a current problem.
  • Memorize weld codes and assembly codes required in production.
  • Remember physical properties of different metals through different shop operations, for example, bending, drilling, welding processes.
Finding Information
  • Refer to equipment manuals for maintenance, adjustment and use instructions. (1) refer to safety manuals to orient new employees on safety standards and procedures. This could include WHMIS, in-house safety standards or provincial safety standards, or standards prescribed by various industries. (2)
  • Seek information from electricians, millwrights, welders, engineers or quality control personnel to troubleshoot problems which may be related to equipment, quality control or project design. (2)
  • Refer to quality assurance manuals to verify product specifications for a particular job. For example, refer to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for multiple specifications required for building a pressure vessel. (2)
Digital technology
  • May enter digital codes for Computer Numeric Control (CNC) press brakes or cutting tables. (1)
Additional informationOther Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Metal fabricators (fitters) work independently to fabricate and fit metal structures following blueprint specifications. Some Metal Fabricators (Fitters) who work in companies that have adopted a team approach may work as a team member or leader. Metal fabricators (fitters) co-ordinate with: supervisors to troubleshoot production problems; co-workers to exchange/arrange shared access to machines; quality control staff, engineers or programmers to ensure that the production meets quality assurance standards; and with workers from other trades such as millwrights or electricians who provide information and/or assistance in maintaining the shop equipment. They may work in a two person team, for instance with another Metal Fabricators (Fitters), or an apprentice to complete large or complex jobs.

Continuous Learning

Metal fabricators (fitters) have a need to engage in ongoing learning to acquire information about new products, metal fabrication procedures, metal properties and quality assurance standards. They must maintain safety skills such as WHMIS and First Aid such as technical skills as required by the Canadian Welding Bureau and industry regulatory authorities. New learning is acquired as part of regular work activities, by participating in industry specific training sessions, reading trade journals and talking to other metal fabricators (fitters).

Labour Market Information Survey
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