Red Seal Trades

Boilermakers

Boilermakers install and maintain boiler systems.

 

Boilermakers assemble, install, maintain, and repair boilers, closed vats, and other large vessels or containers that hold liquids and gases.

 

Duties

Boilermakers typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints to determine locations, positions, and dimensions of boiler parts

  • Install small, pre-made boilers in buildings and manufacturing facilities

  • Lay out prefabricated parts of large boilers before assembling them

  • Assemble boiler tanks, often using robotic or automatic welders

  • Test and inspect boiler systems for leaks or defects

  • Clean vats with scrapers, wire brushes, and cleaning solvents

  • Replace or repair broken valves, pipes, or joints, using hand and power tools, gas torches, and welding equipment

 

Boilers, tanks, and vats are used in many buildings, factories, and ships. Boilers heat water or other fluids under extreme pressure to generate electric power and to provide heat. Large tanks and vats are used to process and store chemicals, oil, beer, and hundreds of other products.

Boilers are made of steel, iron, copper, or stainless steel. Most manufacturers have automated the production of boilers for improved quality. However, boilermakers still assemble and maintain boilers manually. For example, they often use hand and power tools and flame-cutting torches to align, cut, and shape pieces for a boiler. Boilermakers also use plumb bobs, levels, wedges, and turnbuckles to align pieces.

 

During a boiler installation, boilermakers align boilerplates and boiler parts, using metalworking machinery and other tools to remove irregular edges so that the parts fit together properly. If the plate sections are very large, boilermakers signal crane operators to lift the plates into place. Boilermakers then join the plates and parts by bolting, welding, and riveting them together.

 

Boilermakers may help erect and repair air pollution abatement equipment, blast furnaces, water treatment plants, storage and process tanks, and smokestacks. Boilermakers also install refractory brick and other heat-resistant materials in fireboxes or pressure vessels. Some install and maintain the huge pipes used in dams to send water to and from hydroelectric power generation turbines.

During regular maintenance, boilermakers inspect systems and their components, including safety and check valves, water and pressure gauges, and boiler controls. They also clean boilers and boiler furnaces and repair and replace parts, as needed.

 
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Masonry

Masons clean excess mortar with trowels and other hand tools.

Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete and concrete blocks, and natural and manmade stones to build walkways, walls, and other structures.

Duties

Masons typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or drawings to calculate materials needed

  • Lay out patterns, forms, or foundations according to plans

  • Break or cut materials to required size

  • Mix mortar or grout and spread it onto a slab or foundation

  • Clean excess mortar with trowels and other handtools

  • Construct masonry walls

  • Align structures, using levels and plumbs

  • Clean and polish surfaces with handtools or power tools

  • Fill expansion joints with caulking materials

  • Lay out and install rainscreen water systems

 

Masons build structures with brick, block, and stone, some of the most common and durable materials used in construction. They also use concrete—a mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and water—as the foundation for everything from patios and floors to dams and roads.

 

The following are examples of types of masons:

Brickmasons and blockmasons—often called bricklayers—build and repair walls, fireplaces, and other structures with brick, terra cotta, precast masonry panels, concrete block, and other masonry materials. Pointing, cleaning, and caulking workers are brickmasons who repair brickwork, particularly on older structures. Refractory masons are brickmasons who specialize in installing heat- and fire-resistant masonry materials in high-temperature areas such as boilers, furnaces, and soaking pits in industrial buildings.

Cement masons and concrete finishers place and finish concrete. They may color concrete surfaces, expose small stones in walls and sidewalks, or make concrete beams, columns, and panels. Throughout the process of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete, cement masons use their knowledge of how conditions may affect concrete and take steps to prevent defects. On small jobs, such as constructing sidewalks, cement masons may use a supportive wire mesh called a lath. On large jobs, such as constructing building foundations, reinforcing iron and rebar workers install the reinforcing mesh.

 

Stonemasons build stone walls and set stone exteriors and floors. They work with two types of stone: natural-cut stone, such as marble, granite, and limestone; and artificial stone, made from concrete, marble chips, or other masonry materials. Using a special hammer or a diamond-blade saw, workers cut stone into various shapes and sizes. Some stonemasons specialize in setting marble, which is similar to setting large pieces of stone.

 

Terrazzo workers and finishers, also known as terrazzo masons, create decorative walkways, floors, patios, and panels. Much of the preliminary work of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete for terrazzo is similar to that of cement masons. Terrazzo workers create decorative finishes by blending fine marble chips into the epoxy, resin, or cement, which is often colored. Once the terrazzo is thoroughly set, workers correct imperfections with a grinder. Terrazzo workers also install decorative microtoppings or polishing compounds to new or existing concrete.

 

Electricians

 

Electricians often cap wires before installing an outlet.

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Duties

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams

  • Install and maintain wiring, control, and lighting systems

  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers

  • Identify electrical problems using a variety of testing devices

  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using handtools and power tools

  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electrical Code

  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

 

Almost every building has an electrical power, communications, lighting, and control system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. These systems power the lights, appliances, and equipment that make people’s lives and jobs easier and more comfortable.

 

Installing electrical systems in newly constructed buildings is often less complicated than maintaining equipment in existing buildings because electrical wiring is more easily accessible during construction. Maintaining equipment and systems involves identifying problems and repairing broken equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Maintenance work may include fixing or replacing parts, light fixtures, control systems, motors, and other types of electrical equipment.

 

Electricians read blueprints, which include technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of handtools and power tools, such as conduit benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, thermal scanners, and cable testers to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work alone, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems for new construction. Some electricians may also consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. Electricians employed by large companies are likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

 

Lineman electricians install distribution and transmission lines to deliver electricity from its source to customers; this occupation is covered in the line installers and repairers profile.

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Elevator and Escalator Installers

 

Mechanics check many parts, including the rails of an escalator.

Elevator and escalator installers and repairers install, maintain, and fix elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other lifts.

 

Duties

Elevator and escalator installers and repairers typically do the following:

  • Read and interpret blueprints to determine the layout of system components and to select the equipment needed for installation or repair

  • Assemble elevator cars and components for similar systems

  • Connect electrical wiring to control panels and motors

  • Test newly installed equipment to ensure that it meets specifications

  • Troubleshoot malfunctions in brakes, motors, switches, and control systems

  • Dismantle elevator, escalator, or similar units to remove and replace defective parts, using hoists, ladders, and handtools or power tools

  • Repair or replace faulty components in order to return elevator or escalator to fully operational status

  • Conduct preventive maintenance and inspections of elevators, escalators, and similar equipment to comply with safety regulations and building codes

  • Keep service records of all maintenance and repair tasks

 

Elevator and escalator installers and repairers, also called elevator and escalator constructors or mechanics, assemble, install, maintain, and replace elevators, escalators, chairlifts, moving walkways, and similar equipment.

 

Elevator and escalator installers and repairers usually specialize in installation, maintenance, or repair work. Maintenance and repair workers generally need to know more about electronics, hydraulics, and electricity than do installers. Most elevators and similar mechanisms have computerized control systems, requiring maintenance and repair workers to do complex troubleshooting.

After an elevator, escalator, or other equipment is installed, workers must regularly maintain and repair it. Maintenance includes oiling and greasing moving parts, replacing worn parts, and adjusting equipment for optimal performance. Workers also troubleshoot and may be called for emergency repair.

 

A service crew usually handles major repairs—for example, replacing cables, doors and other components, or machine bearings. Service crews may need to use cutting torches or rigging equipment and also may need to do major modernization and alteration, such as replacing electric motors, hydraulic pumps, and control panels.

 

Insulation Worker

Mechanical insulators install preformed insulation.

Insulation workers, also called insulators, install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings or mechanical systems.

 

Duties

Insulators typically do the following:

  • Remove and dispose of old insulation

  • Review blueprints and specifications to determine the amount and type of insulation needed

  • Measure and cut insulation to fit into walls and around pipes

  • Secure insulation with staples, tape, or screws

  • Use air compressors to spray foam insulation

  • Install plastic barriers to protect insulation from moisture

 

Insulators install and replace the material that saves energy and helps reduce noise in buildings and around vats, vessels, boilers, steam pipes, and water pipes. Insulators also install fire-stopping materials to prevent the spread of a fire and smoke throughout a building.

 

Insulators often must remove old insulation when renovating buildings. In the past, asbestos—now known to cause cancer—was used extensively to insulate walls, ceilings, pipes, and industrial equipment. Because of the health risks associated with handling asbestos, hazardous materials removal workers or specially trained insulators must remove asbestos before workers begin installing new insulation.

 

Insulators use common handtools, such as knives, trowels, and scissors. They also may use a variety of power tools, such as welders to secure clamps, staple guns to fasten insulation to walls, and air compressors to spray insulation.

Insulators sometimes wrap a cover of aluminum, sheet metal, or plastic over the insulation. Doing so protects the insulation from contact damage and keeps moisture out.

 

Floor, ceiling, and wall insulators install insulation in attics, under floors, and behind walls in homes and other buildings. To fill the space between wall studs and ceiling joists, workers either unroll, cut, fit, and staple batts of insulation or spray foam insulation.

Mechanical insulators apply insulation to equipment, pipes, or ductwork in many types of buildings.

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Ironworkers

Reinforcing ironworkers install rebar to strengthen concrete walls.

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

 

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, torches, handtools, 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

  • Install metal decking used in building construction

 

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 also help in the demolition, decommissioning, and rehabilitation of older buildings and bridges.

Structural iron and steel workers erect, place, and join steel girders, columns, and other pieces to form structural frameworks. They also may assemble precut metal buildings and the cranes and derricks that move materials and equipment around the construction site. Some ironworkers install precast walls or work with wood or composite materials.

 

Reinforcing iron and rebar workers position and secure steel bars or mesh in concrete forms for purposes of reinforcement. Those who work with reinforcing steel (rebar) are sometimes called rod busters, in reference to rods of rebar.

 

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

 

Painting

Painters use spray guns to apply paints and coatings in factories.

Painting and coating workers apply finishes, often using machines, to products such as cars, jewelry, and ceramics.

Duties

Painting and coating workers typically do the following:

  • Set up and operate machines that paint or coat products

  • Select the paint or coating needed for the job

  • Clean and prepare products to be painted or coated

  • Determine the required flow of paint and the quality of the coating

  • Apply paint or coating

  • Measure the thickness of paint or coating material applied

  • Clean and maintain tools, equipment, and work areas

 

Painting and coating workers apply paint, varnish, rustproofing, or other types of liquid treatments to finish and protect products. They often use machines to spread the liquid over large surfaces but may use handtools on small items or hard-to-reach surfaces.

Before workers apply the paint or other coating, they prepare the surface by sanding or cleaning it to prevent dust from becoming trapped under the paint. They also may cover portions of the product with tape and paper to prevent the paint or coating from touching those areas.

 

After the product is prepared, workers may use a number of techniques to apply the paint or coating. Common techniques include spraying products with paint or coating and dipping items in a large vat of paint or other coating. Many factories use automated painting systems. Workers may measure the paint thickness using a coating thickness gauge or painter meter.

 

The following are examples of types of painting and coating workers: Coating, painting, and spraying machine setters, operators, and tenders use spraying or rolling machines to apply lacquer, enamel, or other coatings to a variety of products, such as cars, boats, and glassware. These workers position the spray guns, set the nozzles, and synchronize the action of the guns with the speed of the conveyor carrying products through the machine. During the process, they program the machine, tend the equipment, watch gauges on the control panel, and check products to ensure that they are being painted evenly. The operator may use a manual spray gun to touch up flaws.

 

Painting, coating, and decorating workers use manual spray guns, pens, or brushes to apply various coatings to furniture, glass, pottery, toys, books, and other products. They also may immerse pieces into the liquid and place the coated items into ovens or dryers to harden the finishes. In addition, these workers examine products to be sure that they meet specifications.

For information about workers who paint walls, equipment, buildings, bridges, and other structures, see the profile on construction and maintenance painters.

 
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Glaziers 

Suction handles are used to pick up and maneuver glass.

Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights, and other fixtures in buildings.

 

Duties

Glaziers typically do the following:

  • Follow blueprints and specifications

  • Remove any existing glass before installing replacement glass

  • Cut glass to the specified size and shape

  • Use measuring tape, plumb lines, and levels to ensure proper fitting

  • Make or install sashes and moldings for installing glass

  • Fasten glass into sashes or frames with clips, moldings, or other types of fasteners

  • Add weather seal or putty around pane edges to seal joints

 

Glaziers specialize in installing different glass products, such as insulated glass that retains warm or cool air and tempered glass that is less prone to breaking.

 

In homes, glaziers install or replace glass items including windows, mirrors, shower doors, and bathtub enclosures. On commercial projects, glaziers install items such as room dividers, display cases, and security windows. For either residential or commercial exterior projects, glaziers may install items such as architectural glass systems (glass used for exterior walls or other building material) or storefront windows in businesses.

 

For most large construction projects, glass is precut and mounted into frames at a factory or shop. The finished glass arrives at the jobsite ready for glaziers to position and secure into place. Using cranes or hoists with suction cups, workers lift large, heavy pieces of glass for installation. If the glass is not secure inside the frame, glaziers may attach steel and aluminum sashes or frames to the building and then secure the glass with clips, moldings, or other types of fasteners.

 

Workers who replace and repair glass in motor vehicles are described in the automotive body and glass repairers profile.

 

Hazmat

Hazmat removal workers remove, neutralize, or clean up hazardous materials.

Hazardous materials (hazmat) removal workers identify and dispose of harmful substances, such as asbestos, lead, mold, and radioactive waste. They also neutralize and clean up materials that are flammable, corrosive, or toxic.

Duties

Hazmat removal workers typically do the following:

  • Follow safety procedures before, during, and after cleanup

  • Comply with state and federal laws regarding waste disposal

  • Test hazardous materials to determine the proper way to clean up

  • Construct scaffolding or build containment areas before cleaning up

  • Remove, neutralize, or clean up hazardous materials that are found or spilled

  • Clean contaminated tools and equipment for reuse

  • Package, transport, or store hazardous materials

  • Keep records of cleanup activities

Hazmat removal workers clean up materials that are harmful to people and the environment. They usually work in teams and follow strict instructions and guidelines. The specific duties of hazmat removal workers depend on the substances that are targeted and the location of the cleanup. For example, some workers remove and treat radioactive materials generated by nuclear facilities and power plants. They break down contaminated items such as “glove boxes,” which are used to process radioactive materials, and they clean and decontaminate facilities that are closed or decommissioned (taken out of service).

Hazmat removal workers may clean up hazardous materials in response to natural or human-made disasters and accidents, such as those involving trains, trucks, or other vehicles transporting hazardous materials.

Workers dealing with radiation may also measure, record, and report radiation levels; operate high-pressure cleaning equipment for decontamination; and package radioactive materials for removal or storage.

In addition, workers may prepare and transport hazardous materials for treatment, storage, or disposal following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. Using equipment such as forklifts, earthmoving machinery, and trucks, workers move materials from contaminated sites to incinerators, landfills, or storage facilities. They also organize and track the locations of items in these facilities.

Asbestos abatement workers and lead abatement workers remove asbestos and lead, respectively, from buildings and structures, particularly those being renovated or demolished. Most of this work is in older buildings that were originally built with asbestos insulation and lead-based paints—both of which are now banned.

Asbestos and lead abatement workers apply chemicals to surfaces, such as walls and ceilings, in order to soften asbestos or remove lead-based paint. Once the chemicals are applied, workers remove asbestos from the surfaces or strip the walls. They package the residue or paint chips and place them in approved bags or containers for proper disposal. Asbestos abatement workers use scrapers or vacuums to remove asbestos from buildings. Lead abatement workers operate sandblasters, high-pressure water sprayers, and other tools to remove paint.

 
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Labourers 

 

Construction labourers and helpers assist craftworkers.

Construction labourers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

Duties

Construction labourers and helpers typically do the following:

  • Clean and prepare construction sites by removing debris and possible hazards

  • Load or unload building materials to be used in construction

  • Build or take apart bracing, scaffolding, and temporary structures

  • Dig trenches, backfill holes, or compact earth to prepare for construction

  • Operate or tend equipment and machines used in construction

  • Follow construction plans and instructions from supervisors or more experienced workers

  • Assist craftworkers with their duties

 

Construction labourers and helpers work on almost all construction sites, performing a wide range of tasks varying in complexity from very easy to extremely difficult and hazardous.

 

Construction labourers, also referred to as construction craft labourers, perform a wide variety of construction-related activities during all phases of construction. Many labourers spend their time preparing and cleaning up construction sites, using tools such as shovels and brooms. Other workers, such as those on road crews, may specialize and learn to control traffic patterns and operate pavement breakers, jackhammers, earth tampers, or surveying equipment.

 

With special training, labourers may help transport and use explosives or run hydraulic boring machines to dig out tunnels. They may learn to use lasers to place pipes and to use computers to control robotic pipe cutters. They may become certified to remove asbestos, lead, or chemicals.

 

Helpers assist construction craftworkers, such as electricians and carpenters, with a variety of tasks. They may carry tools and materials or help set up equipment. For example, many helpers work with cement masons to move and set the forms that determine the shape of poured concrete. Many other helpers assist with taking apart equipment, cleaning up sites, and disposing of waste, as well as helping with any other needs of craftworkers.

 

Many construction trades have helpers who assist craftworkers. The following trades have associated helpers:

  • Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons, and tile and marble setters

  • Carpenters

  • Electricians

  • Painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons

  • Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters

  • Roofers

 

Flooring Installers  

 

Some tile and stone setters create intricate designs.

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and other materials, such as ceramic, glass, marble, and granite.

Duties

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters typically do the following:

  • Remove existing materials from floors, walls, or other surfaces

  • Clean and level the surface to be covered

  • Measure the area and cut material to fit

  • Arrange materials according to design plans

  • Place materials and secure with adhesives, nails, or staples

  • Fill joints with filler compound and remove excess compound

  • Trim excess carpet or linoleum

  • Apply finishes, such as sealants and stains

 

Flooring installers and tile and stone setters lay the materials that improve the look and feel of homes, offices, restaurants, and other buildings. Many of these workers install materials on floors. However, they also work on walls, ceilings, countertops, and showers.

Installing floors and tiles requires a smooth, even base of mortar or plywood. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters or other construction craftworkers lay this base. On remodeling jobs, workers may need to remove old flooring and smooth the surface before laying the base.

 

The following are examples of types of flooring installers and tile and stone setters:

 

Carpet installers lay carpet on new floors or over existing flooring. They use special tools, including “knee kickers” to position the carpet and power stretchers to pull the carpet snugly against walls. They also join carpet edges and seam edges by sewing or by using tape with glue and a heated carpet iron.

 

Carpet tile installers lay modular pieces of carpet that may be glued into place. Installing carpet tiles may be an option where standard carpet is impractical, such as in designing a pattern over an area.

Floor sanders and finishers scrape and smooth wood floors, often using power sanders. They then apply stains and sealants to preserve the wood. (For information on workers who install wood floors, see the profile on carpenters.)

 

Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles, install a variety of resilient flooring materials. Linoleum installers lay washable flooring material of the same name, cutting the linoleum to size and gluing it into place. Vinyl installers lay plastic-based flooring that includes vinyl ester, vinyl sheeting, and vinyl tile. Installers of laminate, manufactured wood, and wood tile floors are included in this category.

 

Tile and stone setters install pieces of ceramic, marble, granite, glass, or other materials. Tile installers, sometimes called tile setters, cut tiles using wet saws, tile scribes, or handheld tile cutters. They then use trowels of different sizes to spread mortar or a sticky paste, called mastic, evenly on the work surface before placing the tiles. Tile finishers apply grout between tiles after the tiles are set by using a rubber trowel, called a float, and then wipe the tiles clean after the grout dries. Stone setters may cut marble, granite, or other stone to a specified size with a wet saw. They use special adhesives to fasten the stone to the desired surface; in remodeling projects, they may first need to smooth the underlying surface after removing old materials.

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Plumbers

 

Pipefitters install a variety of pipes to move liquids and gasses.

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair piping fixtures and systems.

 

Duties

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters typically do the following:

  • Prepare cost estimates for clients

  • Read blueprints and follow state and local building codes

  • Determine the materials and equipment needed for a job

  • Install pipes and fixtures

  • Inspect and test installed pipe systems and pipelines

  • Troubleshoot malfunctioning systems

  • Maintain and repair plumbing sysems

 

Although plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters have distinct responsibilities, they often have similar duties. For example, they all install pipes and fittings that carry water, gas, and other fluids and substances. They determine the necessary materials for a job, connect pipes, and test pressure to ensure that a pipe system is airtight and watertight. Their tools include drills, saws, welding torches, press fitting tools, and drain cleaning tools.

 

Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters may use different materials and construction techniques, depending on the project. For example, residential water systems use copper, steel, and plastic pipe that one or two plumbers install. Industrial plant water systems, in contrast, are made of large steel pipes that usually take a crew of pipefitters to install.

 

Journey- and master-level plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters frequently direct apprentices and helpers.

 

Master plumbers on construction jobs may help develop blueprints that show the placement of pipes and fixtures. Their input ensures that a structure’s plumbing meets building codes, stays within budget, and works well with the location of other features, such as electric wires. Many diagrams are created digitally with Building Information Modeling (BIM), which allows workers in several occupations to collaborate in planning a building’s physical systems.

Some of the specific tasks performed by these workers are as follows:

Plumbers install and repair water, gas, and other piping systems in homes, businesses, and factories. They install plumbing fixtures, such as bathtubs and toilets, and appliances, such as dishwashers and water heaters. They clean drains, remove obstructions, and repair or replace broken pipes and fixtures. Plumbers also help maintain septic systems—large, underground holding tanks that collect waste from houses that are not connected to a sewer system.

Pipefitters and steamfitters, sometimes simply called fitters, install and maintain pipes that may carry chemicals, acids, and gases. These pipes are mostly in manufacturing, commercial, and industrial settings. Fitters install and repair pipe systems in power plants, as well as heating and cooling systems in large office buildings. Steamfitters specialize in systems that are designed for the flow of liquids or gases at high pressure. Other fitters may specialize as gasfitters or sprinklerfitters.

 

HVACR

HVACR technicians install, maintain, and repair heating, cooling, and refrigeration systems.

 

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called HVACR technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

 

Duties

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers typically do the following:

  • Install, clean, and maintain HVACR systems

  • Install electrical components and wiring

  • Inspect and test HVACR systems and components

  • Discuss system malfunctions with customers

  • Repair or replace worn or defective parts

  • Recommend maintenance to improve system performance

  • Keep records of work performed

 

Heating and air conditioning systems control the temperature, humidity, and overall air quality in homes, businesses, and other buildings. By providing a climate-controlled environment, refrigeration systems make it possible to store and transport food, medicine, and other perishable items.

 

Some HVACR technicians specialize in one or more specific aspects of HVACR, such as radiant heating systems, solar panels, testing and balancing, or commercial refrigeration.

 

When installing or repairing air conditioning and refrigeration systems, technicians must follow government regulations regarding the conservation, recovery, and recycling of refrigerants. The regulations include those concerning the proper handling and disposal of fluids and pressurized gases.

 

Some HVACR technicians sell service contracts to their clients, providing periodic maintenance of heating and cooling systems. The service usually includes inspecting the system, cleaning ducts, replacing filters, and checking refrigerant levels.

 

Other workers sometimes help HVACR technicians install or repair cooling and heating systems. For example, on a large air conditioning installation job, especially one in which workers are covered by union contracts, ductwork may be installed by sheet metal workers, electrical work by electricians, and pipework by plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters. Boiler systems are sometimes installed by a boilermaker.

 

Home appliance repairers usually service window air conditioners and household refrigerators.

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Sheet Metal

Sheet metal workers mark metal before drilling holes.

Sheet metal workers fabricate or install products that are made from thin metal sheets, such as ducts used in heating and air conditioning systems.

 

Duties

Sheet metal workers typically do the following:

  • Select types of sheet metal according to building or design plans

  • Measure and mark dimensions and reference lines on metal sheets

  • Drill holes in metal for screws, bolts, and rivets

  • Install metal sheets with supportive frameworks

  • Fabricate or alter parts at construction sites

  • Maneuver and anchor large sheet metal parts

  • Fasten seams or joints by welding, bolting, riveting, or soldering

 

Sheet metal workers use pieces of thin steel, aluminum, or other alloyed metal in both manufacturing and construction. Sheet metal products include heating and air conditioning ducts, rain gutters, outdoor signs, and siding.

 

The following are examples of types of sheet metal workers:

Fabrication sheet metal workers, sometimes called precision sheet metal workers, make precision sheet metal parts for a variety of industries, including power generation and medical device manufacturing. They often work in shops and factories, operating tools and equipment. In large-scale manufacturing, their tasks may be highly automated and repetitive. Some fabrication shops have automated machinery, such as computer-controlled saws, lasers, shears, and presses, which measure, cut, bend, and fasten pieces of sheet metal. Workers may use computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) systems to make products. Some of these workers are responsible for limited programming of the computers controlling their equipment. Workers who primarily program computerized equipment are called metal and plastic machine workers.

 

Installation sheet metal workers put in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) ducts. They also install other sheet metal products, such as metal roofs, siding, and gutters. They typically work on new construction and on renovation projects. In addition to installing sheet metal, some workers install nonmetallic materials such as fiberglass and plastic board. Information about workers who install or repair roofing systems is in the profile on roofers.

Maintenance sheet metal workers repair and clean ventilation systems so the systems use less energy. Workers remove dust and moisture and fix leaks or breaks in the sheet metal that makes up the ductwork.

 

Testing and balancing sheet metal specialists ensure that HVAC systems heat and cool rooms properly by adjusting sheet metal ducts to achieve proper airflow. Information on workers who install or repair HVAC systems is in the profile on heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers.

 

Drywall Finisher and Plasterer

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers work with many different types of tools.

 

Drywall installers and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

 

Duties

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers typically do the following:

  • Measure, mark, and cut drywall panels according to design plans

  • Fasten panels and tiles to support structures

  • Patch, trim, and smooth rough spots and edges

  • Apply tape and sealing compound to cover joints between wallboards

  • Add coats of sealing compound to create an even surface

  • Sand all joints and holes for a smooth, seamless finish

 

Drywall and ceiling tile installers place panels over the walls and ceilings of interior rooms in buildings. The panels cover insulation, electrical wires, and pipes; dampen sound; and provide fire resistance. Tapers prepare the drywall for finishing.

Workers may use mechanical lifts or stand on stilts, ladders, or scaffolds to hang and prepare ceilings. After hanging wallboards, workers use trowels to spread coats of sealing compound over cracks, indentations, and other imperfections. Some workers use a mechanical applicator, a tool that spreads sealing compound on the wall joint while dispensing and setting tape at the same time.

Drywall installers are also called drywallers or hangers. They cut and hang the panels of wallboard. The tools they use include tape measures, straightedges, utility knives, and power saws.

 

Ceiling tile installers hang ceiling tiles and create suspended ceilings. Tiles may be applied directly to the ceiling, attached to furring strips, or suspended on runners that are connected by wire to the ceiling. Workers are sometimes called acoustical carpenters, because they also install tiles that block sound.

 

Tapers, also called finishers, prepare the drywall for covering by paint and wallpaper. Tapers apply paper or fiberglass mesh tape to cover drywall seams. They also smooth the tape after affixing it and apply a finishing compound to the tape.

 

In addition to performing new installations, many installers and tapers make repairs such as fixing damaged drywall and replacing ceiling tiles. The wall coverings applied to the finished drywall are installed by  painters, plasterers, and paperhangers.

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Teamsters

 

Some heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers plan their own routes.

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most tractor-trailer drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks with a total weight exceeding 26,000 pounds for the vehicle, passengers, and cargo. These drivers deliver goods over intercity routes that sometimes span several states.

 

Duties

Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers typically do the following:

  • Drive long distances

  • Report any incidents encountered on the road to a dispatcher

  • Follow all applicable traffic laws

  • Secure cargo for transport, using ropes, blocks, chains, or covers

  • Inspect their trailers before and after the trip and record any defects they find 

  • Maintain a log of their working hours, following all federal and state regulations

  • Report serious mechanical problems to the appropriate people

  • Keep their trucks and associated equipment clean and in good working order

 

Most heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers’ routes are assigned by a dispatcher, but some independent drivers still plan their own routes. When planning routes, drivers must take into account any road restrictions that prohibit large trucks. Drivers also must plan legally required rest periods into their trip.

Some drivers have one or two routes that they drive regularly, and other drivers take many different routes throughout the country. In addition, some drivers have routes that include Mexico or Canada.

Companies sometimes use two drivers, known as teams, on long runs to minimize downtime. On these team runs, one driver sleeps in a berth behind the cab while the other drives.

 

Certain cargo requires drivers to adhere to additional safety regulations. Some heavy truck drivers who transport hazardous materials, such as chemical waste, must take special precautions when driving and may carry specialized safety equipment in case of an accident. Other drivers, such as those carrying liquids, oversized loads, or cars, must follow rules that apply specifically to them.

Some long-haul truck drivers, also called owner-operators, buy or lease trucks and go into business for themselves. In addition to their driving tasks, owner-operators have business tasks, including finding and keeping clients and doing administrative work.

 

Millwrights 

 

Millwrights, Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers adjust and calibrate equipment.

 

Industrial machinery mechanics and machinery maintenance workers maintain and repair factory equipment and other industrial machinery, such as conveying systems, production machinery, and packaging equipment. Millwrights install, dismantle, repair, reassemble, and move machinery in factories, power plants, and construction sites.

 

Duties

Industrial machinery mechanics, machinery maintenance workers, and millwrights typically do the following:

  • Read technical manuals to understand equipment and controls

  • Disassemble machinery and equipment when there is a problem

  • Repair or replace broken or malfunctioning components

  • Perform tests and run initial batches to make sure that the machine is running smoothly

  • Detect minor problems by performing basic diagnostic tests

  • Test malfunctioning machinery to determine whether major repairs are needed

  • Adjust and calibrate equipment and machinery to optimal specifications

  • Clean and lubricate equipment or machinery

  • Move machinery and equipment

 

Industrial machinery mechanics, also called maintenance machinists, keep machines in working order by detecting and correcting errors before the machine or the products it produces are damaged. Many of these machines are increasingly run by computers. Industrial machinery mechanics use technical manuals, their understanding of industrial equipment, and observation to determine the cause of a problem. For example, after detecting a vibration from a machine, they must decide whether it is the result of worn belts, weak motor bearings, or some other problem. They may use computerized diagnostic systems and vibration analysis techniques to help figure out the source of problems. Examples of machines they may work with are robotic welding arms, automobile assembly line conveyor belts, and hydraulic lifts.

 

After diagnosing a problem, the industrial machinery mechanic may take the equipment apart to repair or replace the necessary parts. Once a repair is made, mechanics test a machine to ensure that it is operating correctly.

 

In addition to working with hand tools, mechanics commonly use lathes, grinders, and drill presses. Many also are required to weld.

Machinery maintenance workers do basic maintenance and repairs on machines. They clean and lubricate machinery, perform basic diagnostic tests, check the performance of the machine, and test damaged machine parts to determine whether major repairs are necessary.

 

Machinery maintenance workers must follow machine specifications and adhere to maintenance schedules. They perform minor repairs, generally leaving major repairs to industrial machinery mechanics.

Maintenance workers use a variety of tools to do repairs and preventive maintenance. For example, they may use a screwdriver or socket wrenches to adjust a motor’s alignment, or they might use a hoist to lift a heavy printing press off the ground.

 

Millwrights install, maintain, and disassemble industrial machines. Putting together a machine can take a few days or several weeks.

Millwrights perform repairs that include replacing worn or defective parts of machines. They also may be involved in taking apart the entire machine, a common situation when a manufacturing plant needs to clear floor space for new machinery. In taking apart a machine, millwrights carefully disassemble, categorize, and package each part of the machine.

 

Millwrights use a variety of hand tools, such as hammers and levels, as well as equipment for welding, brazing, and cutting. They also use measuring tools, such as micrometers, measuring tapes, lasers, and other precision-measuring devices. On large projects, they commonly use cranes and trucks. When millwrights and managers determine the best place for a machine, millwrights use forklifts, hoists, winches, cranes, and other equipment to bring the parts to the desired location.

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