As consumers learn more about the benefits of building their homes
using steel framing, steel house framers are expected to be in great demand.
Right now, many residential homes throughout North America are built using
traditional framing products, such as wood and masonry. But the North American
Steel Alliance is out to change that.
The North American Steel Alliance is an industry organization representing
companies in both the United States and Canada. It aims to educate homebuyers
about the benefits of steel so they will choose it as their framing material.
If the alliance succeeds as planned, workers will benefit.
According to a press release from the North American Steel Alliance, homes
built with steel frames are competitively priced. Steel frames are just as
easy and quick to work with as traditional framing products. Steel also performs
better than traditional products, according to the alliance's web site. Steel
is able to withstand earthquakes, fires and other natural disasters.
And that means opportunities for steel house framers. "Any person who wants
to get in and hone his skills is worth his weight in gold," says Lisa Stevens.
She works with the Steel Framing Alliance. "It will help in the years ahead."
Scott Shaddix is president of a contracting company in Anaheim, California.
He foresees an explosion in demand for houses framed with steel. "It is how
homes will be built," he says. "On a scale of one to 10, it will be a 10."
He adds that in the future, homebuyers will have steel as a standard option,
along with wood.
As homeowners learn more about the benefits of steel, another potential
growth market includes remodeling existing homes to incorporate steel framing.
However, Shaddix says that so far, such work is not a big part of his business.
The Steel Framing Alliance anticipates many prospects for steel house framers.
This applies even to workers whose backgrounds are in general house framing.
"The more workers know how to use different materials, the better off they
are. If they have the knowledge and the tools, they can demand more," says
Steel house framers require many of the skills that traditional house framers,
such as carpenters, have. They must be able to read blueprints and understand
math. Framers also should be physically fit and have good balance, hand-eye
coordination and manual dexterity. They typically have at least a high school
diploma as well as some vocational training.
Shaddix explains that because steel house framers need skills similar to
those used by carpenters, this trade is an opportunity for both new workers
and existing carpenters.
Tim Waite is the general manager of training and local alliance development
at the Steel Framing Alliance. He agrees. "Essentially, it is the same skill
set," he says. "The main difference is the basic tool. Steel house framers
use a screw gun instead of a nail gun."
A potential framer typically graduates high school with basic vocational
classes. He then contacts a contractor, such as Shaddix, to demonstrate his
skill level. If the contractor considers his skills to be acceptable, he is
hired as an apprentice to learn the trade. Contractors win contracts from
either developers, who construct many houses, or individual buyers, who build
Typical tasks for a framer include reading blueprints, measuring, cutting
and assembling pieces, joining the materials, checking the accuracy of the
work, and making necessary adjustments.
A steel house framer's location will influence how much he is paid. "It's
mainly supply and demand," Shaddix stresses. For example, in southern California,
skilled framers can expect to make approximately $20 to $30 an hour. However,
in the San Francisco area, framers can make more, while in other parts of
the U.S., pay is less.
Overall, steel house framing looks to be a vocation where workers can expect
"There are currently huge opportunities in the field," says Stevens. "The
industry needs younger people who are open to the new technology and ideas
this job will require."
North American Steel Alliance
Includes members from both Canada and the U.S.
Steel Framing Alliance
Learn more about the steel framing industry
This site is dedicated to workers in the steel trade
American Iron and Steel Institute
This site serves the interests of commercial steel framing
Construct My Future
Find out more about the various careers available in construction