Career Paths

Core Classes: Commercial HVAC

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. In this field, you will work on high-volume mechanical systems. These systems deliver heated and cooled air to commercial buildings such as schools, hospitals, airports, factories, and office buildings. You’ll work in an exciting environment with dozens of other trade workers, creating something that is long lasting and enhances the quality of life for many people.

Opportunities in this field include:


Service Technician


Commissioning Agent

Project Manager


Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Technician

Energy Management Technician

TAB Technician

Architectural Metal is a combination of technical skills and artistry. Architectural Metal Workers specialize in fastening and joining, managing expansion and contraction, sealing, and controlling moisture to ensure the appearance and durability of buildings. Architectural Metal Workers spend a good part of their career working at large commercial/industrial sites or residential jobs.

Opportunities in this field include:

  • Installer
  • Fabricator
  • Solderer
  • Crew Leader
  • Designer
  • Project Manager
  • Customer Sales and Service

Sheet Metal Detailing, also known as Sketching, is often thought of as CAD (Computer-Aided Drafting). A Certified Detailer is a skilled commercial HVAC trade person who will advance to provide coordination between the Hardware Fabricators and the Installers from various trades. Detailers work with project documents, plans, and specifications, take field measurements, and create 3-D coordination digital drawings, along with Building Information Modeling (BIM).

Opportunities in this field include:

  • Detailer
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Project Manager
  • Contractor

Almost everything we do indoors depends on a working heating and cooling system. These systems make buildings comfortable and safe. Demand for skilled technicians in this specialized field is high. Service and Refrigeration Workers work on a variety of job sites. They install and test systems to ensure that they are operating safely and efficiently. The work is always exciting and challenging, and Service and Refrigeration Workers are always in demand.

Opportunities in this field include:

  • Service Technician
  • Fabricator
  • System Evaluator
  • Energy Consumption Manager
  • Service Manager

Industrial Sheet Metal Workers work on large-scale projects, custom projects, or large shop-built modules. Industrial Sheet Metal Workers make the machines used in automotive assembly and food processing plants. They can choose to work on specialized installations almost anywhere in the world. The projects Industrial Sheet Metal Workers work on last for years and enhance the quality of life for many people.

Opportunities in this field include:

  • Custom Fabricator
  • Grinder & Finisher
  • Plasma Cutter Operator
  • Field Installer
  • Field Foreman
  • Shop Foreman
  • Estimator
  • Project Manager
  • Shop Owner

Welding is part of many industries. Sheet Metal Workers have the benefit of working with a wide range of materials in many different situations. Our Welders are trained and certified in our AWS (American Welding Society) Testing Lab, by AWS Certified Instructors.

Welders work in both field and shop to produce and install:

  • Grease Ducts
  • Stainless Steel Hoods
  • Stainless Steel Exhaust Ducts
  • Form an Understanding of Metal Composition
  • Learn Multiple Fabrication Techniques
  • Work with a Wide Range of Materials – Iron, Copper, Titanium, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, and Plastic
  • Work in Various Locations—Underwater, Skyscrapers, Power Plants, Kitchens, Fabrication Facilities, Semi-conductor Plants, Nuclear Power Plants, Food Processing Plants
  • Learn to Read and Interpret Blueprints

Sheet Metal Roofers work outdoors on commercial roofing systems. Roofers install different types of low slope roofing systems including: built up roofs, modified bitumen roof membranes, and single ply membranes. Roofers also install other types of roofing designs, such as green roof systems.

Opportunities in this field include:

  • Job Superintendent
  • Foreman
  • Estimator
  • Installer
  • Safety and Risk Manager

Testing, Adjusting, and Balancing (TAB) is an important part of air and water delivery systems. TAB Technicians make sure that air and water in heating and air conditioning systems are delivered efficiently, quietly, and safely throughout a building. TAB technicians are responsible for working on air and water delivery systems to meet the specifications outlined by the design engineer.

Opportunities in this field include:

  • Energy Management
  • Indoor Air Quality
  • Building Systems Commissioning
  • Sound & Vibration Testing
  • Fire Life Safety Control Systems
  • HVAC Installation or System Controls
  • System Design
  • Project Management or Facility Management
  • Clean Room Work or Certification

Residential HVAC Workers install and service complete Residential HVAC Systems. They install ductwork for a wide variety of residences including single-family homes, town homes, and apartment buildings. Residential HVAC Workers also work on duct systems for existing buildings to remodel, upgrade, or troubleshoot. Most of this work is done in the field.

Opportunities in this field include:

  • New Construction Installer
  • Residential Finish Installer
  • Retrofit Technician
  • Residential Services Technician

You see signs everywhere—on highways, on top of buildings, hanging outside stores, or planted in the ground. Craftworkers in the sheet metal industry make the majority of signs, even the ones made of plastics or neon tubing. Sign Craftworkers work on the design of new signs, fabricate signs based on existing designs, or mount signs in a variety of locations.

Opportunities in this field include:

  • Crane Operator
  • Project Coordinator
  • Sign Designer
  • Contractor

Production Workers have similar working schedules to factory workers. Production Workers have both consistency and variety. Production Workers may be mass producing items for home improvement centers one day and performing custom welding fabrication on a unique project the next. The major benefits of working in Production is having a workspace in a controlled environment, and having a predicable schedule and work outlook.

  • Automation
  • Mass Production of Common Trade Items
  • Plasma and Laser Cutting
  • Custom Fabrication
  • Various Materials
  • Welding
  • Precision Work
  • Produce HVAC Products for Home Improvement Stores

Working in a Mechanical Contractor’s shop offers many unique opportunities. Fabrication workers work with a wide variety of materials, and learn fabrication techniques from the experts. Many Commercial HVAC Fabricators also install the products they create. Welding, AutoCAD, CNC, and Quality Control are all part of everyday Fabrication techniques.

Fabrication Workers work in the shop to make finished components for construction projects such as:

  • Spiral Duct Components
  • Square Duct Components
  • Spin-Ins
  • All Other Parts and Fittings as Necessary
  • Custom Fabrication
  • Plasma and Laser Cutting
  • CNC Automation
  • Pre-installation Assembly

Leadership opportunities exist for those who are ready to step up. All Apprentices are taught skills to help them become a Job Foreman. The excitement of leading a team through the daily demands comes with many rewarding benefits. Foremen get the chance to shape craftsmen, control quality, and, of course, make more income.

Job Foremen lead a team of Sheet Metal Industry Professionals in:

  • On-Site Construction Management
  • Shop Division Direction and Management
  • Apprentice Development
  • Coordination of Material, Installation, and Manpower
  • Quality Control
  • Safety Management
  • Daily Record Keeping
  • Innovate and Initiate Problem-solving Solutions
  • Implement Company Policies and Procedures
  • Budget Review and Compliance

If you like to control your future, strive to become a General Foreman. Leadership skills are taught throughout your sheet metal career; this is the pathway that puts them to the greatest use. Progression from Apprentice to Journeyman to Foreman is the pathway to holding the title of General Foreman.

General Foremen manage entire jobsites of Sheet Metal Industry Professionals:

  • Construction Project Management
  • Full Shop Management
  • Leadership Development
  • Oversight of All Foreman Responsibilities
  • Manage Multiple Foremen and Projects
  • Coordinate Projects at Bid, Design, and Implementation Levels
  • Communication with Architects, Engineers, General Contractors, and Owners
  • Coordinate Material and Equipment Delivery/Installation
  • Review and Maintain Proper Labor Rates and Crew Size

Project Managers serve a number of purposes in the construction industry. Most of the day-to- day business of a construction project goes through a Project Manager. Construction cost, progression, scheduling, and design changes are just a few elements of this highly-sought career. Project Managers interact with business leaders, architects, engineers, and jobsite supervisors. Higher salary, bonuses, and flexible schedules are some of the benefits of a dedicated and proven Project Manager. Construction Project Managers are an important part of all commercial projects.

When working for yourself is the goal, consider owning a Sheet Metal Contracting business. Whether you want be a single person company or become a major corporation, going through a Union Apprenticeship is a great place to start. You will learn from industry leaders, and get the support of an established labor/management relationship. Education is available to help you achieve your goals, and growth is determined by your ambition. As a Contractor, you will own your own business employing Sheet Metal Industry Professionals. More than 55% of SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association) Colorado Member Contractors are owned by Sheet Metal Industry Professionals who started as Apprentices in our program and now own their own businesses.

Training and Educating the Next Generation of Sheet Metal Industry Professionals

  • Teaching in the Apprenticeship & Training Center
  • On-the-Job Training

Organizers help to promote and recruit for the Sheet Metal Industry. As demands change, Organizers assist new companies in becoming a part of the industry. In addition, they recruit new individuals by explaining the benefits of being part of the Union for both the Sheet Metal Workers and the Contractors. Education, travel, and flexible schedules are some of the benefits of this rewarding career.

Business Agents perform a wide variety of tasks. Maintaining a strong working relationship between Union Members and Union Contractors is an important part of their job. Business Agents also negotiate contracts, pensions and healthcare on behalf of their members. Business Agents are experts on current labor and construction legislation. To become a business agent, you will need to campaign and be elected. If you enjoyed being part of a Student Council, you might want to consider becoming a business agent.

Interested in applying for our Apprenticeship Program?