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The process of steel fabrication has applications across a wide range of industries; just about any industry that requires the use of steel will need a steel fabricator in order to be successful. This person is responsible for creating steel components that can be used for machinery, structures, or even temporary applications. The steel fabricator will need to have exceptional skills in welding and soldering, and he or she will need basic to moderate math and science skills as well. The nature of the job will require the worker to do heavy lifting and to be on his or her feet for long periods of time, so physical fitness will be required.
The specific job functions of a steel fabricator can vary by industry or employer. Very often the fabricator will need to work with a variety of tools to prepare metal for welding or alteration; to machine raw materials into usable parts; and to connect various metal parts together to form a strong and durable structure. When raw steel is presented to the steel fabricator, he or she will be able to use machines to create parts for any specifications. This is usually done using computer numeric control (CNC) machines that can make precision cuts using rotating cutting tools or even lasers.
On construction sites, a steel fabricator is very likely to use a welding machine to connect steel parts together. The welding process can be difficult and even dangerous, so the steel fabricator will need to undergo extensive training in order to become a fabricator in a professional setting. Very often apprenticeships are offered through labor unions or through private companies so the fabricator can learn the proper techniques while on the job. An apprenticeship can last anywhere from one to five years, and by the end of it, the fabricator will be considered a journeyman fabricator as long as he or she passes the appropriate certification exams.
In some job settings, the steel fabricator may have additional responsibilities as they pertain to machine use and maintenance, or steel assessment. It may be necessary for the fabricator to learn about different grades, or qualities, of steel and make appropriate assessments about how a particular raw piece of steel should be used. Inspection of created parts or components will also be necessary. In some cases, the fabricator may be responsible for the repair and maintenance of various pieces of fabrication equipment, though in other settings, a mechanic may be hired to perform such duties exclusively.