Ironworkers install structural and reinforcing iron and steel to form and support buildings, bridges, and roads.

What Do Precast Concrete Installers Do?

Duties

Ironworkers typically do the following:

  • Read and follow blueprints, sketches, and other instructions
  • Unload and stack prefabricated iron and steel so that it can be lifted with slings
  • Signal crane operators who lift and position structural and reinforcing iron and steel
  • Use shears, rod-bending machines, and welding equipment to cut, bend, and weld the structural and reinforcing iron and steel
  • Align structural and reinforcing iron and steel vertically and horizontally, using tag lines, plumb bobs, lasers, and levels
  • Connect iron and steel with bolts, wire, or welds

Structural and reinforcing iron and steel are important components of buildings, bridges, roads, and other structures. Even though the primary metal involved in this work is steel, workers often are known as ironworkers or erectors. Most of the work involves erecting new structures, but some ironworkers may also help in the demolition, decommissioning, and rehabilitation of older buildings and bridges.

When building tall structures such as skyscrapers, structural iron and steel workers erect steel frames and assemble the cranes and derricks that move materials and equipment around the construction site. Workers connect precut steel columns, beams, and girders, using tools like shears, torches, welding equipment, and hand tools. A few ironworkers install precast walls or work with wood or composite materials.

Reinforcing iron and rebar workers use one of three different materials to support concrete:

  • Reinforcing steel (rebar) is used to strengthen the concrete that forms highways, buildings, bridges, and other structures. These workers are sometimes called rod busters, in reference to rods of rebar.
  • Cables are used to reinforce concrete by pre- or post-tensioning. These techniques allow designers to create larger open areas in a building because supports can be placed farther apart. As a result, pre- and post-tensioning are commonly used to construct arenas, concrete bridges, and parking garages.
  • Welded wire reinforcing (WWR) is also used to strengthen concrete. This reinforcing is made up of narrow-diameter rods or wire welded into a grid.

Structural metal fabricators and fitters manufacture metal products in shops, usually located away from construction sites.

Career Snapshot

Precast Concrete Installers typically perform a variety of duties such as mixing materials, assembling mold parts, filling molds, and stacking molds to mold and cast a wide range of products.  Precast concrete can be poured into virtually any shape, including steps, retaining walls, fences, light poles, basement walls or as a slab. It’s also commonly used to build silos, cattle feed bunks, troughs, channels and retaining walls. This type of concrete can be installed in just about any weather.

(Jobs in this career sub-sector may also have the title of: Bed Laborer, Caster, Fabricator, Injection Molding Machine Operator, Machine Operator, Mold Mechanic, Molder, Molding Line Assistant, Molding Line Operator, Press Operator)

Job Details

Precast Concrete Installers do the following:

  • Read work orders or examine parts to determine parts or sections of products to be produced.
  • Trim or remove excess material, using scrapers, knives, or band saws.
  • Pour, pack, spread, or press plaster, concrete, liquid plastic, or other materials into or around models or molds.
  • Engrave or stamp identifying symbols, letters, or numbers on products.
  • Brush or spray mold surfaces with parting agents or insert paper into molds to ensure smoothness and prevent sticking or seepage.
  • Assemble, insert, and adjust wires, tubes, cores, fittings, rods, or patterns into molds, using hand tools and depth gauges.
  • Clean, finish, and lubricate molds and mold parts.
  • Separate models or patterns from molds and examine products for accuracy.
  • Set the proper operating temperature for each casting.
  • Load or stack filled molds in ovens, dryers, or curing boxes, or on storage racks or carts.

Education and Experience

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to enter the occupation. There are no formal education requirements to become a Precast Concrete Installer. Math classes and vocational classes such as welding and blueprint reading can provide a good foundation for this occupation, although they're not required.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: In 2019, Precast Concrete Installers typically earned an average base salary of $34,000.
  • Employment growth forecast 2018-2028: 2%
  • Entry-level education: High School Diplomas or equivalent

Career Growth Opportunity

Precast Concrete Installers generally begin their careers as helpers and advance to full journey level after several years of experience. From there, the installer may move up to supervisory and project management positions.

Professional Associations

  • National Precast Concrete Association - This organization is dedicated to expanding the use of quality precast concrete and providing members with the programs and information required to operate a successful precast plant.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors - ABC's mission is the advancement of the merit shop construction philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
  • Architectural Precast Association - APA is committed to establishing and upholding the highest level of quality assurance for the production of architectural precast concrete products.
  • Precast Manufacturers Association - PCMA is comprised of a group of prestressed concrete fabricators.
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America - The UBC mission is to stand strong with our members and business partners to help them achieve success.
  • American Concrete Pipe Association - ACPA members contribute to the improvement of our environment by producing quality concrete pipe, engineered to provide a lasting and economical solution to drainage and pollution problems.
  • National Concrete Masonry Association - NCMA advocates to safeguard the work of its members, and through widespread promotion, help make concrete masonry the first choice for designers, builders, and property owners, so communities are improved and made more resilient.
  • Home Builders Institute - This organization’s mission is to advance and provide education, career development, training and placement of men and women serving the building industry.
  • National Association of Home Builders - NAHB strives to protect the American Dream of housing opportunities for all, while working to achieve professional success for its members who build communities, create jobs and strengthen our economy.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The AGC of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry; providing opportunities for firms to learn about ways to become more accomplished; and connecting them with the resources and individuals they need to be successful businesses and corporate citizens.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) - This mission of this organization is to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals.  Their vision is to be universally recognized by industry and government as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The Associated General Contractors of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry.

Publications

  • Precast, Inc. Magazine - Features detailed articles about the latest industry technologies and developments, perspectives on current industry events, profiles on leading precast concrete companies and case studies of various manufactured concrete applications.
  • PCI Journal - This bimonthly publication includes peer-reviewed papers that report on the latest international research on the analysis, design, materials, construction, and repair of precast, prestressed concrete structures and pavements.
  • Precast Solutions Magazine - Informative articles on construction projects that feature the flexibility, durability, installation speed and advantages of precast concrete.
  • Constructor - online digital magazine

The following industry-related organizations provide certification information pertinent to the precast concrete industry: