Recycled Metals Worker

Job Description:

Metal workers cut, shape, join, sort, and grade metal.

Job Category:
Metals & Mining

What you will do:

Your day-to-day responsibilities will depend on your specialism.

If you specialise as a welder, you might be responsible for:

  • cutting and joining composite materials, such as plastics, using specialist welding methods
  • setting out the materials to be cut or joined
  • following engineering instructions and drawings
  • inspecting and testing cuts and joins, using precision measuring instruments
  • operating the semi-automatic spot-welding equipment used in high volume production lines

If you specialise as a sheet metal worker, you might be responsible for:

  • making metal products (such as aluminium sheets for street signs, steel panels for car bodies, pipes, panels and storage tanks) from flat sheets
  • marking out sections following engineering drawings and instructions
  • shaping and cutting out sections using hand tools and Computer Numerically Controlled (CNC) machines, like laser cutters, presses and rollers
  • finishing items with grinders and polishers
  • assembling sections using riveting, welding and bolting methods

If you specialise as a scrap metal worker or recycled metal worker, you might be responsible for:

  • weighing scrap metal on a weigh bridge or platform
  • sorting and grading scrap
  • recording details and filling in paperwork
  • using machines (balers) to crush the scrap into bales
  • cutting up large items by hand, using welding equipment


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of recycling processes
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others (teamwork skills)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptable)
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • observation and recording skills (organisational skills)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Recycled Metals Worker, specific subjects are not typically required, but having a good general education and certain skills is beneficial for success in this field. Recycled Metals Workers are involved in recycling, processing, and preparing metals for various industries. Here are some skills and subjects that can be useful for a career in this area:

  1. Science: While not a strict requirement, taking science subjects like Chemistry or Physics can provide you with a foundational understanding of materials, chemical processes, and metallurgy, which are relevant to working with metals.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are essential for measurements and calculations when dealing with metals and recycling processes.
  3. Design and Technology: Subjects related to design and technology can be helpful in understanding the mechanical and manufacturing aspects of working with metals and machinery.

Post School

There are no set entry requirements.

Experience or a college qualification in engineering will be helpful fo some roles. You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

To become a Welder, you’ll usually have to pass competency tests for the type of welding work you do. These show that your work meets welding standards (codes).

To become a Scrap metal worker, you’ll need to have a forklift licence

In the UK, you’ll also need a Client Contractor National Safety Group (CCNSG) Safety Passport to work on most engineering construction sites.

Restrictions and Requirements
You’ll need a large goods vehicle (LGV) licence if your job involves driving a lorry to collect metal waste.

Working Hours and Environment:

You could work at a waste recycling site.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could be promoted to a supervisory role, such as:

  • site supervisor
  • foreperson
  • middle management
  • workshop manager

With experience, you could become a yard manager or set up your own scrap metal or recycling business.