Who is Steel Detailer?

Unlike car detailing, steel detailer has nothing to do with cleaning, though it can help the fabricator look “clean” on the job site!

Steel detailing is a process of interpreting plans to detailed shop drawings.

In complete shop drawing set each part is specified, the parts put together in assemblies and erected before it gets to the shop floor! It’s all done in 3D environment where you can see how parts fit together and how will they look after it’s built. Shop drawings are used to produce representation of steel members like columns, beams, ledgers, trusses, braces, embeds, stairs, ladders, handrails, joists, metal decking etc. These members are used in construction of buildings, bridges, industrial plants, and other steel structures.

Who is a steel detailer?

Steel detailer is a design or CAD professional who works with architects, engineers, general contractors, steel fabricators, erectors, self employed welders or anyone who wants to build steel structures and needs his ideas to be refined. Steel detailer provides detailed drawings, parts lists, bolts lists, electronic files.

How is it done?

Traditionally, steel detailing was done by drawing shop drawings manually using drafting tools like pencil, templates, drafting table, shapes and calculator. Today, the traditional method was replaced by CAD (computer-aided drafting). Steel detailers use software specifically designed for this purpose to create models, put the details together, test it, refine the design if needed and then print the shop drawing for release.

Steel Detailing Process

The steel detailing process involves creating detailed drawings and models of steel structures to be used in construction. Here is a general overview of the steel detailing process:

  1. Design review: The steel detailer reviews the architectural and engineering drawings to understand the design intent, structural requirements, and construction constraints.
  2. Creating a 3D model: Steel detailers typically use specialized software to create a 3D model of the steel structure. This model includes all the necessary details, such as beams, columns, connections, and other structural elements.
  3. Detailing individual parts: The detailer then focuses on detailing each individual part of the steel structure. This includes determining the dimensions, shapes, and specifications of the steel members, as well as the necessary connections and fasteners.
  4. Creating fabrication drawings: Once the individual parts are detailed, the detailer generates fabrication drawings. These drawings include all the information required by the fabricator to manufacture and assemble the steel members, including dimensions, material specifications, welding details, and assembly instructions.
  5. Generating erection drawings: Erection drawings provide instructions for the steel erector on how to assemble the steel members on the construction site. These drawings include information on the sequence of erection, temporary bracing, and connections between different members.
  6. Coordinating with other trades: During the detailing process, the steel detailer also coordinates with other trades, such as architects, engineers, and MEP (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing) contractors. This coordination ensures that the steel structure is properly integrated into the overall building design.
  7. Review and approval: The fabrication and erection drawings are reviewed by the architect, engineer, and other stakeholders involved in the project. Any necessary revisions are made based on their feedback.
  8. Delivering the final drawings: Once the drawings are approved, the steel detailer provides the final fabrication and erection drawings to the fabricator and erector, respectively.

Throughout the steel detailing process, clear and accurate communication is essential to ensure that the steel structure is fabricated and erected correctly. The detailer typically stays in close contact with the fabricator and erector to address any issues that may arise during construction.

What Type of Projects Steel Detailers are Required in?

Steel detailers are required on various types of projects, including:

  • Commercial Buildings: Steel detailing is required for the structural components of commercial buildings such as office complexes, shopping malls, and warehouses.
  • Industrial Plants: Steel detailers are needed in industrial plants like manufacturing facilities, refineries, and power plants where steel structures are used for supporting heavy equipment and machinery.
  • Bridges and Infrastructure: Steel detailers play a crucial role in the design and fabrication of steel components used in bridges, flyovers, tunnels, and other infrastructure projects.
  • Residential Construction: Steel detailing is required in residential construction projects like high-rise buildings, apartment complexes, and housing developments where steel is used for structural support and reinforcement.
  • Stadiums and Arenas: Steel detailers are involved in projects related to sports stadiums, arenas, and concert venues where steel structures are used to create large-scale and durable facilities.
  • Metal Fabrication and Manufacturing: Steel detailers are also employed in metal fabrication and manufacturing industries where steel components are custom-made for various applications.
  • Renovation and Retrofitting: Steel detailers are sometimes involved in renovation and retrofitting projects, where existing structures are modified or strengthened using steel components.

These are just a few examples, and there are many other types of projects where the expertise of steel detailers is required.

Steel Detailer Salary

The salary of a steel detailer can vary based on factors such as experience, qualifications, location, and employer. On average, a steel detailer in the United States earns around $50,000 to $70,000 per year. However, this can range from $40,000 to $90,000 or more.

Steel Detailer Associations.


In conclusion, a steel detailer is a professional who plays a crucial role in the construction industry. They are responsible for creating detailed drawings and plans that show how steel structures should be erected. These drawings include all the necessary information, such as dimensions, materials, and connections, to ensure the structural integrity of the building. Steel detailers work closely with engineers and architects to bring their vision to life. They utilize specialized software and tools to accurately depict the steel components, ensuring that the construction process runs smoothly and efficiently. Additionally, steel detailers are involved in the coordination and collaboration with other trades, such as contractors and fabricators, to ensure that the steel elements are properly integrated into the overall design. Their expertise and attention to detail are vital in ensuring that the final product meets quality standards and regulations. Overall, a steel detailer serves as a vital link between the design and construction phases, ensuring the successful implementation of steel structures in various projects.

If this did not help you, here is a list of FAQ on the topic:

Q: What is a steel detailer?

A: A steel detailer is a professional who creates detailed drawings and plans for the construction of steel structures.

Q: What is structural steel?

A: Structural steel is a type of steel that is used in the construction of buildings and other structures. It is known for its strength and durability.

Q: What does a steel detailer do?

A: A steel detailer is responsible for creating detailed drawings and plans that are used in the construction of steel structures. They work closely with engineers and architects to ensure accuracy and compliance with building codes.

Q: What software do steel detailers use?

A: Steel detailers often use software such as Tekla, AutoCAD, and Revit to create detailed 3D models and drawings of steel structures.

Q: How can I become a steel detailer?

A: To become a steel detailer, you typically need a background in engineering or drafting. You may also benefit from completing a course in structural steel detailing and obtaining certification in the field.

Q: What are the responsibilities of a steel detailer?

A: The responsibilities of a steel detailer include creating detailed drawings and plans, ensuring accuracy and compliance with building codes, collaborating with engineers and architects, and communicating with clients and construction teams.

Q: How long does it take to complete a course in structural steel detailing?

A: The duration of a course in structural steel detailing can vary depending on the program and the level of detail covered. However, a typical course can range from a few months to a year.

Q: What is the importance of certification for a steel detailer?

A: Certification in structural steel detailing demonstrates a professional’s knowledge and expertise in the field. It can enhance job prospects, increase earning potential, and provide credibility to clients and employers.

Q: Can a steel detailer work for a steel fabrication shop?

A: Yes, steel detailers often work for steel fabrication shops where they create detailed drawings and plans for the fabrication and construction of steel structures.

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