Meet Glen Mullins, a 29 year-old metal fabricator who's been working magic with his hands on all sorts of projects. Glen's been a metal fabricator for about three years, but he's been in the industry for eight. It takes awhile before you become one of the big guys. Here's some of the perks and downsides of the trade and more info on becoming a metal fabricator.
What the Heck Is A Metal Fabricator?Using a blueprint, a metal fabricator skillfully joins pieces of metal to construct bridges, frames for construction, factory equipment and just about every object used in every day life. Fabricators are responsible for building a part of just about everything you see - your chair, part of your school bus and the bridge on the way to school - to name just a few.
He uses smaller metal pieces and joins them to make a bigger part or object. Some parts are often pre-made by a machinist in the shop before the fabricator tack welds them together. Then the object goes to a welder or the fabricator finishes the job himself.
Training and GearGlen went through a four year apprenticeship program at a technical institute in Vancouver, Canada. He learned with hands-on training, but once a year Glen would leave the shop and hit the books for five weeks of school. When he got back to the shop he'd put into practice what he'd learned.
Metal fabricators wear protective gear like coveralls, long gauntlet gloves, safety glasses, dark face shields and steel-toed boots. I learned that Glen works with a few guys who have lost fingers on the job. Ouch! Lucky for him he has all 10 fingers intact but has broken his baby toe (the only toe not covered by steel toe boots), had welders flash (a temporary blindness from a very bright light) and has had flecks of metal imbedded in his eye.
The GoodOne of Glen's favorite things about his job is that he gets to build some pretty cool stuff. He works on different projects all the time so there's always variety and when he's completed a project it feels pretty gratifying. (It would be kinda neat to cross a bridge that you know you made.) Another nice part about the job is working with some good guys who have a lot of fun in the shop while making good coin.
The coolest thing he ever assembled was a cyclotron - a machine used for cancer research. The biggest object he's ever helped construct is a bridge. Right now he's working on a bridge for an Alaskan highway.
The BadThe only bad thing is that it's a feast or famine industry. Job security isn't always there so when a company's out of work, you may have to look to other shops.
The UglyActually, there is no ugly but you were expecting it right?
How's The $$$?When you work a trade, the money is usually pretty good. Metal fabricators can make an upward of $60 - 70, 000 CDN a year.
How Do I Become a Metal Fabricator?Glen says, "Metal fabricating can be a challenging and rewarding career." If you're interested in becoming a metal fabricator, find a company where you may want to work and see if you can get on as shop clean-up. If you're there long enough, you may be able to get an apprenticeship as a machine operator, a welder or even a fabricator. Check out your local tech institutes to see what kinds of metal fabricating programs are offered. Experience constructing things with your hands would be a definite plus too.
What does Glen like to do when he isn't metal fabricating? He puts the pedal to the metal on his motorbike!