Essential skills for success as a sheet metal worker

Sheet metal workers use essential skills to complete trade-related tasks. Use this fact sheet to:

  • learn how essential skills are used on the job;
  • find out the skills you need to succeed in your trade; and
  • help prepare yourself for your career.


  • Read comments on scale drawings, such as modifications to the design.
  • Read instructions and warnings on equipment labels to understand the safe operation of equipment.
  • Read memos and bulletins, such as explanations of changes to work processes.
  • Read product brochures and articles in trade magazines for information about industry practices and new equipment and tools.
  • Read and understand equipment manuals.

Document use

  • Find information on labels and signs, such as hazardous materials symbols on containers of solvent.
  • Complete entry forms such as work orders, parts requisitions, timesheets and inspection checklists.
  • Locate data in lists and tables, such as part numbers, descriptions and dimensions.
  • Study technical drawings to locate data and identify the placement of parts, such as thermostats or plumbing fixtures.


  • Measure distances, temperatures and angles using basic measuring tools.
  • Compare measurements of airflows, humidity and temperatures to specifications.
  • Estimate cut lengths and seam allowances when exact measurements are not required.
  • Estimate time required to complete projects.
  • Manage small material and supply inventories.
  • Calculate invoices, including labour, materials, taxes and discounts.
  • Calculate capacities, air flows and temperature differentials in heating and ventilation systems.
  • Take measurements using specialized measuring tools.
  • Determine the quantity of materials needed for construction projects by calculating the area of complex shapes.


  • Write logbook entries and short notes to co-workers, such as design changes on work orders.
  • Write entries in forms, such as the sequence of events leading to workplace accidents in incident report forms.
  • Write short reports on projects, such as heating system installations.

Oral communication

  • Discuss sheet metal work products with suppliers.
  • Discuss specifications, timelines, procedures and other work-related matters with co-workers, general contractors and other tradespersons.
  • Explain fabrication, construction and installation procedures to customers and address their concerns.

Working with others

  • Coordinate job tasks and share tools, workspace and equipment with coworkers and other tradespersons, such as plumbers and electricians.
  • Participate in formal discussions about work processes or product improvement.
  • Demonstrate how to perform tasks to other workers.


  • Inform supervisors and adjust schedules when equipment breakdowns or shortages of materials cause delays.
  • Assign tasks to apprentices, taking into account the apprentice's skill level, timelines and the complexity of the tasks.
  • Evaluate the feasibility of proposed designs and installations.
  • Evaluate the safety of workplaces and work procedures, such as the safety of ladders and hoists.
  • Choose methods and materials for sheet metal fabrication and installation jobs that meet specifications and requirements.
  • Inform supervisors and colleagues, such as engineers, about design flaws and suggest modifications.
  • Organize daily activities to meet targets established by supervisors and adjust schedules when delays occur.

Computer use

  • Use word processing software to create documents, such as change notices.
  • Use the Internet to search for information, such as new products and equipment on supplier websites.
  • Use computer-assisted design programs and manufacturing equipment.

Continuous learning

  • Take training provided by employers, unions, suppliers and organizations.
  • Learn about changes to building codes, safety standards and new installation and manufacturing techniques by reading building codes and regulations.
  • Maintain current product knowledge by reading trade magazines and brochures and by talking to suppliers.
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