We may be biased, but we believe that local scaffolders are the heroes of the construction industry. Whether you’re a builder working on a house extension or a roofer tackling a tricky roof repair, you’re almost guaranteed to require the services of a specialist scaffolding business at some point. Skilled construction workers have become more and more in-demand in recent years as people have been warned against the dangers of hiring incompetent “cowboy” builders.
Despite this, the UK is facing a shortage of skilled workers like never before. In fact, recent statistics show that demand for scaffolders, bricklayers and plant mechanics exceeded the employment levels recorded in 2015 by up to 300%. Imbalances between the supply and demand of construction workers has been attributed to a number of different factors, including economic and political uncertainty, but one thing’s for sure: the need for skilled construction workers – including professional scaffolders – is still on the rise.
Being a scaffolder requires a number of impressive skills and qualities, in addition to undertaking vigorous health and safety training. They’re entrusted with the important job of erecting and disabling scaffolding frames safely and efficiently, and make it possible for construction workers to complete projects at height. Without them, builders would be forced to rely on unstable ladders to get the job done, jeopardising their safety and professionalism in one.
With the demand for professional scaffold specialists on the increase, we thought we’d share everything we know about becoming a scaffolder, including what’s involved and how long the process takes.
What are the requirements for undergoing scaffolding training?
Becoming a scaffolder won’t happen overnight; it takes hard work and dedication to complete your training and to find a scaffolding company to make you part of their team. Becoming a scaffolder doesn’t require any specific qualifications, so it won’t necessarily matter if you don’t have any GCSEs or A Levels. However, like with all jobs, being able to demonstrate that you’re a hard worker committed to delivering great results is essential.
Although you may not have to meet any entry requirements, there are some skills and qualities you’ll need before undergoing scaffolding training. To become a scaffolder, you need:
To have good levels of personal health and fitness
To be a hard worker with good hand-eye coordination
To have a good knowledge of health and safety issues affecting construction sites
To be comfortable working outside, even in poor weather conditions
You’ll also need to be able to:
Follow instructions to a high standard
Lift heavy equipment without causing harm to yourself or others
Work at height comfortably and safely
Enjoy working in a team
Having your own driving licence may be ideal, but is often not a requirement.
What scaffolding training will I need to do?
Although you may not have to meet any entry requirements, you will need to undergo Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) training with an accredited provider. This might be as part of an entry-level trainee scheme or as an apprenticeship, depending on which route you decide to take. The CISRS is the industry recognised training scheme for scaffolding and has been for more than 40 years. You’ll be expected to begin as a Scaffolding Trainee, before undertaking a series of assessments to prove you have the theoretical and practical knowledge to deal with scaffolding effectively, and are able to meet all relevant health and safety regulations.
As a trainee scaffolder, you won’t yet be able to work alone and will need to be supervised by a qualified scaffolding professional. However, you’ll have the opportunity to work your way through the ranks to become a qualified scaffolder and will be able to work unsupervised as part of a team. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to progress, and may decide to become:
An advanced scaffolder
A scaffold inspection specialist
A scaffold designer
A site supervisor
A construction site manager.
Each of these jobs requires different qualifications and training, but gaining experience in an entry-level scaffolding role will give you many of the skills and qualities you’ll need to progress.
As you progress, you’ll also be able to expect different wages. When you first begin you may be earning approximately £14,000 a year, but this can jump to salaries of £17,000 and above when you’ve completed your traineeship and are able to work without supervision. According to the National Careers Service, scaffolders with high levels of experience can earn up to £30,000 a year.
How long will it take to qualify as a fully-trained scaffolder?
As we previously mentioned, becoming a skilled scaffolder won’t happen overnight. You’ll need to pass your assessments with an accredited training provider, be awarded a CISRS card, and find scaffolding firms to gain experience with before you’re fully qualified. This makes it difficult to say how long it will take to qualify, however it could take a few years to become a fully-trained scaffolder. Having a few years of experience under your belt will help you become confident in erecting and disabling scaffolding, as well as getting to grips with all other aspects of working on a construction site.
What does a typical day in a scaffolding company look like?
So, what’s a typical day in the life of a scaffolder? As with every job, it depends. Although your principle tasks may stay the same, where you’re working, who you’re working with, and what you’re trying to achieve may vary fairly frequently. Some weeks you may be working as part of a select team, and your goal may be to set up a scaffolding frame against a residential property. However, other weeks you may be working in a much bigger team to erect a variety of different scaffold structures for a large-scale commercial project.
Your working week will also vary according to a number of factors. On average, you’ll probably be expected to work up to 40 hours a week. However, you may work fewer hours if you complete projects ahead of time, or if the weather is simply too bad to work outside.
During a project, you’ll typically have the following responsibilities:
Working with your team to unload the scaffolding from your company van to the construction site.
Creating a stable foundation for the scaffolding.
Erecting the scaffolding poles according to building regulations.
Making sure there’s adequate footing for construction workers.
Adhering to health and safety regulations, including wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE).
Disabling the scaffolding frame once a project has been completed.
Your daily tasks will also differ depending on what company you work for. Some companies may even offer you the opportunity to work abroad, and in some cases you may be required to follow a bespoke scaffold design package produced by a specialist company.
No matter where you work, the majority of the work – if not all – requires you to have good levels of health and fitness, which is one of the most important qualities to have if you’re considering pursuing a career in scaffolding. In general, however, scaffolding is a suitable career option for many different people, and is a well-respected trade within the construction industry.
DH Scaffold Services: Scaffolding services for professionals in the construction industry.
Skilled scaffolders are fundamental to the construction industry, and at DH Scaffold Services we’re proud to work alongside the professionals on some of the UK’s most exciting building projects from our head office in Sheffield. As a specialist scaffold design company we offer a range of services, including quotations and surveys, design packages and “as built” scaffolding, and are dedicated to assisting your building project from start to finish.
For more information about our services and how we could help you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of scaffolding specialists today.