Sheet Metal Worker Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Sheet Metal Worker trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series (RSOS)

Disponible en français sous le titre : Ferblantier/ferblantière

NOC: 7233

Designation Year: 1958

RSOS Products for Download

The Sheet Metal Worker Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Sheet Metal Worker (PDF, 3.1 MB) A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Sheet Metal Worker A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Sheet Metal Worker (PDF, 1.0 MB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Sheet Metal Worker Trade

“Sheet Metal Worker” is this trade's official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by sheet metal workers whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:

Sheet Metal Worker x x x x x x x x x x x x
Tinsmith x

Sheet metal workers design, fabricate, assemble, install and repair sheet metal products and systems. In fabrication work, sheet metal workers lay out and measure pieces to specifications. They use tools such as hand tools, portable power tools and shop equipment to cut and shape material. They assemble and join the pieces with various techniques such as welding and using mechanical fasteners.

They work with black iron, galvanized steel, satin-coated steel, stainless steel, aluminum, copper, brass, nickel, tin plate and other alloys. Some may also work with composites, fibreglass, ceramics and plastics.

Pieces may be laid out and cut in the shop and assembled on construction or industrial sites. Sheet metal workers may specialize in on-site installation, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and material handling system design, shop manufacture, and servicing and maintenance of installed equipment and systems. Those who work in installation may specialize in HVAC, boiler lagging/vessel cladding, roofing products, architectural sheet metal, custom metal products, food service products, secondary systems for environmental projects, pneumatic conveyance or signage.

Employers in this trade include sheet metal fabrication shops, manufacturing companies of sheet metal, installation contractors, HVAC contractors, and architectural sheet metal contractors. Sheet metal workers may be involved in residential, industrial, commercial, institutional and construction sectors.

Key attributes for people entering this trade are mechanical and mathematical aptitude, hand-eye coordination, spatial perception and manual dexterity. The work often requires considerable standing, climbing, kneeling, lifting and carrying.

Hazards of the trade include working with sharp metal pieces, at heights, around excessive noise and vibration, as well as exposure to heat and fumes. Sheet metal workers often have to work in adverse weather and environmental conditions.

This standard recognizes some transferable skills between the sheet metal worker trade and other trades such as ironworkers, boilermakers, refrigeration and air conditioning mechanics, plumbers, insulators (heat and frost), gasfitters, oil heat system technicians, electricians, roofers, carpenters and welders.

With experience, sheet metal workers act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They may also become specialists in design and layout, and move into other positions such as estimators, supervisors or business owners.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

Tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

Sheet metal workers require reading skills to gather information from forms and labels. They also need to read to understand more complex texts such as equipment and policy and procedure manuals, specifications, codes and standards. They also refer to project specifications and work orders when planning a job.

Document use is a significant essential skill for this trade. Sheet metal workers need to be able to locate and interpret information in several types of documents such as labels, signs, forms, lists, tables, technical drawings and schematics. They also need to create documents such as orthographic projections, sketches and work forms.

Writing skills are used by sheet metal workers to write short texts, usually less than one paragraph. Some examples of written work include safety documentation, logbook entries, invoices, inventory lists, takeoffs, bids, forms and summaries of work projects.

Some tasks performed by sheet metal workers require oral communication skills, including discussing project requirements with suppliers, discussing specifications and plans with co-workers, supervisors and general contractors, and supervising and directing the work of apprentices. Sheet metal workers may explain the fabrication, construction, installation and repair procedures to customers as well.

Numeracy skills are extremely important in the everyday work of sheet metal workers. Substantial mathematical skills are used in taking measurements, doing material layout, using formulas and performing trade calculations such as heat loss/gain, air flows, capacities and air pressures. Numeracy is used significantly in system design. Sheet metal workers may create project timelines, calculating time requirements for tasks in the project. They may also calculate amounts for supplies, estimates and overall costs.

Sheet metal workers solve problems in situations where work may be delayed due to equipment breakdowns, shortages in materials and work of other trades. They may perform modifications to project designs to correct flaws. They need the ability to think spatially and visualize in three dimensions. Problem-solving and thinking sequentially are important skills in fabrication and installation activities. Sheet metal workers need to be able to plan their work and organize tasks and materials.

Sheet metal workers coordinate job tasks and share workspace and equipment with groups of co‑workers and colleagues. Those working in fabrication shops may work alone on small projects, and also work as members of a team on larger projects. During installation work, tasks must be coordinated with other tradespersons such as crane operators, carpenters, drywall finishers, plasterers, bricklayers, plumbers and electricians.

Sheet metal workers may use computers and computer-assisted design (CAD) and building information modelling (BIM) software in their work. They may also use computers to perform word processing and electronic communication devices to communicate with others, record job changes and daily activities, track job progress, order materials and perform Internet research. Increasingly sheet metal workers are required to have digital skills when performing daily tasks which may require the use of numerically controlled equipment and electronic devices.

Sheet metal workers are required to stay current with new technology, trends and product developments as well as changes in fabrication, installation and production processes. They also need to stay updated on codes and trade standards.

Trends in the Sheet Metal Worker Trade


Much of the equipment used by sheet metal workers has remained the same. However, some equipment has become computer-controlled and motorized to improve efficiency. Sheet metal workers are using more computerized software and equipment to design and lay out and fabricate sheet metal products.


Workplaces have become safer because of an increase in training and legislated safety practices and procedures. There is a greater awareness of the importance of job safety. For example, practices such as documentation, safety committees and weekly safety meetings are well-established.


Clients are more inclined to promote the use of environmentally friendly products and processes in their buildings. Environmental considerations are modifying building methods to reduce energy use, implementing integrated building management systems, improving indoor air quality and taking advantage of alternate energy sources. For instance, “green roofs” are becoming more common. Plastic and new alloys are being used for venting and will continue to become more prevalent with the continued effort to increase fuel efficiency in all gas burning appliances.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) projects are becoming more prevalent in this trade which have led to the use of different products such as solar panels/walls and reflective surfaces, and different building processes. For instance, these standards impact the removal and recycling of construction materials, collection and control of dust, and limiting of solvents and other chemicals. Also, environmental upgrading and maintenance of existing systems is a developing trend in the trade.

New versions of building codes are being revised with the “net zero” principle in mind. This means that there is a need for more complex systems that conserve, reuse and generate energy.

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional codes and standards. All health and safety practices, procedures and standards must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and at a high quality with minimal material waste or environmental damage. All requirements of the manufacturer, client job specifications, the National Building Code (NBC), Authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) and trade standards (such as Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning National Association [SMACNA], American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers [ASHRAE], American National Standards Institute [ANSI], Canadian Standards Association [CSA] and National Fire Protection Association [NFPA]) must be met. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision. As a journeyperson progresses in their career there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade through mentoring of apprentices.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada's official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Regulated Occupations Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this standard was undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of Ontario, the host jurisdiction for this trade.