Although most reinforcing iron and rebar workers learn their trade informally on the job, some get their training through a formal apprenticeship program. A high school diploma is generally required for becoming a reinforcing iron and rebar worker.
On the job, trainees start by carrying rebar and setting it in place as directed by a foreman or supervisor. With experienced workers guiding them, trainees eventually acquire the skills of a fully qualified reinforcing iron and rebar worker.
Some reinforcing iron and rebar workers learn their trade through a 3- or 4- year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical training and 1,400 to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Nearly all apprenticeship programs teach both reinforcing and structural ironworking, but a few programs focus exclusively on reinforcing and rebar work.
On the job, apprentices learn to use the tools and equipment of the trade; handle, measure, cut, and lay rebar; and construct metal frameworks. In technical instruction, they are taught about reinforcing metals and installation techniques, as well as basic mathematics, how to read and draw blueprints, general construction techniques, safety practices, and first aid.
After completing an apprenticeship program, they are considered journey workers who may do tasks on their own.
A few groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:
A high school diploma is generally required for becoming a reinforcing iron and rebar worker. High school courses in math, shop, and blueprint reading are useful. Training in post-tensioning systems also is helpful.
Hand-eye coordination. Workers must be able to quickly tie rebar together. An experienced worker can tie rebar together in seconds and move on to the next spot, while a beginner may take much longer.
Physical strength. Workers must be strong enough to carry heavy bundles of rebar. Although individual rebar only weighs 5 to 10 pounds, the weight quickly adds up when they are bundled.
Stamina. Workers must have endurance because they spend many hours on their feet. Also, workers must bend over frequently to easily reach the rebar, especially when tying flat-surface reinforcement.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition