Steel House Framers Have a Solid Future The Buzz


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 Stevens.

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 custom homes.

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 steady employment.

"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."

Links

North American Steel Alliance
Includes members from both Canada and the U.S.

Steel Framing Alliance
Learn more about the steel framing industry

United Steelworkers
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