According to the Forging Industry Association (FIA), approximately 45,000 people are employed in the industry in the United States and Canada. Most forging plants are small businesses that generally have between 50 and 500 employees, with a few larger facilities with over 1,000 workers. Plants are primarily located in large Midwest cities, as well as in Los Angeles, Houston, and Pittsburgh. The FIA reports the largest forging sector—custom forging—"accounts for over $6 billion dollars in sales annually. These custom forgings are produced by about 250 forging companies in approximately 300 plants across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico."
If you wish to work in a forge shop, apply directly to the shop's personnel department. Most forge shop workers start out as helpers on hammer or press crews and learn by working with more experienced employees. As they become more skillful, they are given more responsibility and more complicated tasks.
Job leads and information about apprenticeships may be obtained by contacting local offices of the state employment service or local offices of labor unions that organize these workers.
Forge shop production workers who start out as helpers can advance to more skilled jobs after several years of training and experience. A helper may become, for example, a hammersmith, who relies on accumulated knowledge of forging and directs a crew of workers. Skilled workers, with experience in many different areas of forge shop operations, can advance to supervisory positions if they show leadership and management ability. Completion of college courses in engineering, metallurgy, electronics, and computers can also be helpful for those hoping to advance.
Attend the Forging Industry Association's annual and fall meetings to network and participate in continuing education opportunities.
Visit http://careers.forging.org for job listings.
Talk to forge shop workers about their careers. Ask them for advice on breaking into the field.