National Careers Week: Become a Steeplejack

In honour of National Careers Week 2018, we’re profiling some of the latest jobs from Careers 2018.

Next in the list of roles roles is Steeplejack – download a PDF of this job profile here:

Steeplejack job profile

Qualifications and courses

There are no formal entry qualifications for this job but you will find it useful to have GCSE/National 5 passes in Maths, English, a science and Technology.

Pre-entry experience within the construction industry, as a labourer or tradesperson, may be advantageous.

Young entrants can train on the job with an employer or as an apprentice within an approved apprenticeship scheme. The CITB bConstructive programme provides opportunities for apprenticeships. Entrants may be required to take aptitude tests in maths and problem solving and will be assessed in literacy and their ability to work at heights. Apprentices are sponsored by an employer and spend 6 months out of a 2-year period at the residential National Construction College. College-based training begins in January each year.

Candidates will work towards NVQs/SVQs Levels 2 or 3 in Accessing Operations and Rigging – Steeplejacking and various other CITB-accredited courses such as Health and Safety, First Aid, Mobile Towers, Fire Fighting, Safe Use of Ladders and Industrial Rope Access.

Many employers require you to have the CSCS card issued by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme as proof of your competence working on-site. You will need to have completed or be working towards an industry recognised qualification in order to be granted one.

In order to remain up to date with current issues within the industry, you may find it useful to gain membership with the Association of Technical Lightning and Access Specialists (ATLAS).

What the work involves

Steeplejacks work on high structures including power station chimneys, cooling towers, oil refineries, factories and church spires. Your work on these structures will involve climbing to high places with your tools to complete routine maintenance, repairs or renovation projects.

You will plan each job carefully.

To ensure a safe and accessible working environment you will put in ladders, specialist scaffolding or industrial rope access (abseiling), work platforms (cradles) and bosun’s chairs (harnesses) and fall-arrest devices.

You will be working on both historic buildings and modern constructions, in urban and rural areas.

Type of person suited to this work

You should be organised as you will have to make sure in advance that you have the right safety equipment and tools to complete the job. The ability to work well as part of a team is also important.

You must be comfortable working at heights or in confined spaces, have a good sense of balance and be physically fit. Good coordination and practical skills are required to use the tools of the trade.

You should enjoy working outdoors in all weather conditions and you must be very conscious of, and committed to, health and safety procedures.

Working conditions

Though you will typically work a 40-hour week, shifts can vary and you might have to work during the evenings and weekends.

Your work will be physically demanding as it will involve rigging, climbing, carrying ladders and tools and working with your hands.

You will need to wear protective clothing and headgear. You may have to work on industrial chimneys which can be extremely dusty, requiring respiratory equipment.

A driving licence is useful as you may have to travel.

Future prospects

As a steeplejack you will probably work for construction firms that specialise in steeplejacking. These tend to be based in the major UK cities such as London, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and tend to seek local employees.

With experience you will be eligible for promotion to a role as a supervisor or manager within a firm. With significant experience you can become self-employed, although this is not particularly common. There are, however, increasing opportunities to work abroad.

Advantages/disadvantages

As a qualified steeplejack, you may find work easily due to there being plenty of opportunities in this area. Your work may be hampered by weather conditions, for example, high winds may prevent access to structures and delay completion of projects.

Money guide

Trainee steeplejacks can earn between £15,000 and £17,000 a year.
Once qualified, your salary may increase to £21,000.
With experience, advanced skills and extra responsibilities, senior engineers can earn in excess of £25,000 a year.
Your wage can significantly increase with overtime and shift allowances.

Further information

Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

Association of Technical Lightning and Access Specialists

 


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