Metal fabrication can be an essential part of our economy.1 Fabricated metals are nearly everywhere in society: from the pots and pans we use to cook, to the cars we drive, to the computers we rely on.1
Metal fabricators, also sometimes called sheet metal workers, make up the labor force that fuels this industry.2
Fabricators work with thin pieces of steel, aluminum or other alloyed metals to create many of the industrial and commercial products we use regularly, such as air conditioning ducts, rain gutters and hammers.1,2
If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a metal fabricator, you can find more details on the outlook for this industry below.
Global Industry Outlook
Strong economic growth leads to higher demand for new construction projects and commercial products, and therefore higher demand for fabricated metals.3 While the industry of metal fabrication may fluctuate slightly based on the state of the economy, the long-term projections are good.3,4
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Metal fabrication is a global market, and the industry is expected to achieve a global market share of $92.84 billion by 2025, according to Grand View Research, Inc.5 Worldwide, the industry is fueled by industrialization in the developing economies in Asia, including the need for advanced infrastructure to serve booming populations.5
Automotive Demand in the West
Metal fabrication saw some flat lining in Europe and North America due to the economic recession of 2009 to 2015.
However, the automotive industry is predicted to spur metal fabrication growth in the western world in the coming years.5 In particular, there has been a surge in electric vehicle manufacturing, which calls for advanced metal fabrication techniques.5
Tube Laser Technology
As with any industry, technology in the world of metal fabrication is often advancing. Tube laser technology is one such type of technology that has great implications for metal fabrication.6
This technology allows companies to fabricate more products in less time, while saving money and improving the precision of the cuts.6 This is a good thing for the industry as a whole, because it can lead to bringing down production costs.4
Fluctuating Labor Force
When economic conditions are good, construction tends to expand, opening up employment opportunities for sheet metal workers with the proper welding training and experience.
The labor market is also influenced by workers who leave the industry, either to transfer to another career field or to retire, thereby opening new positions to be filled.7
During peak periods of building activity, there may even be a shortage of skilled workers.7 These numbers change every year according to updated information from BLS, and the increase of available jobs may fluctuate depending on the number of industrial, commercial and residential structures that need to be built.7
Metal Fabrication: A Diverse and Versatile Field
Metal fabrication is a versatile field with diverse applications.8 So many industries use metal fabrication, including aerospace, manufacturing, agriculture, alternative energy, automotive, construction, military and consumer products.8
Fabrication can look different across the industries, from cutting and joining heavy-duty pieces for tanks to designing tiny metal pieces like caps and valves.8
The metal fabrication industry is a strong and intense business that is somewhat cyclical, with demand shifting across industries depending on changes to local and global economies.3
Even when some of the major industries, such as construction, fluctuate depending on external factors, metal fabricators who are able to shift focus to areas where demand is currently strong should be able to do well.3