Many jobs in steel manufacturing require only a high school diploma. However, machinery continues to become more complex, and growing numbers of operating and maintenance positions are highly skilled, so employers increasingly prefer to hire graduates from formal postsecondary technical and trade schools. Two-year degrees in mechanical or electrical technology or 2- to 4-year apprenticeships are recommended for persons seeking to advance into the best production jobs.
After production workers are hired, they receive specific training on the job. New workers entering the production process as lower skilled operators and maintenance personnel generally assist more experienced workers, beginning with relatively simple tasks. As workers acquire experience, they specialize in a particular process and acquire greater skill in that area. The time required to become a skilled worker depends upon individual abilities, acquired skills, and available job openings. It generally takes at least 2 to 5 years, and sometimes longer, to advance to a skilled position. At times, workers change their specialization to increase their opportunities for advancement. Workers are continuously trained to perform a variety of tasks and provide more flexibility to the firm, as company needs change. Computers have become important, as companies have modernized. Workers must learn to operate computers and other advanced equipment.
To work as an engineer or scientist, or in some other technical occupations in the steel industry, a college education is necessary. Many workers in administrative and managerial occupations have degrees in business or possess a combination of technical and business degrees. A master’s degree may give an applicant an advantage in getting hired or help an employee advance. Managers need strong problem-solving, planning, and supervisory skills.