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How To Become A Scaffolder

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If you enjoy a physical challenge and don’t mind working at heights, scaffolding can be a lucrative career. Experienced scaffolders can take home north of £30,000, get to spend most of their working week outdoors and enjoy working as part of a closely-knit team.

Additionally, the entry requirements to become a scaffolder aren’t too difficult to meet, so with the right approach you should be able to find a role quickly. Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a scaffolder in the UK.

How to become a Scaffolder UK

There are a few different ways you’ll want to consider when trying to become a scaffolder.

  • Apprenticeships
  • College
  • Work experience

Which one you might prefer will ultimately depend on you—those who enjoy learning in a classroom would probably prefer taking a college course and building up a more well-rounded CV, whereas a more hands-on learner might prefer to dive straight in through an apprenticeship or work experience.

What skills do you need to be a Scaffolder?

Every scaffolder is different, but a good one would typically exhibit the following qualities:

  • Knowledge of and interest in construction
  • Thorough, strong attention to detail
  • Patience
  • Great team player
  • Physically able
  • Good with their hands, high level of hand-eye coordination
  • Basic IT skills

If you think you might fit the bill, here are your three primary options.

1. Apprenticeship

Apprenticeships are a great way to help the UK workforce expand its skillset and can help to build a foundation for a young person's entire career. The government knows this, and are keen to highlight the successes of the scheme and the new jobs it has helped to create.

There are 3 levels you can enter the UK apprenticeship market at:

  • Intermediate Apprenticeship: A few GCSEs (or equivalent), likely including English and Maths
  • Advanced Apprenticeship: 5+ GCSEs (C or above) (or equivalent), including English and Maths
  • Higher Apprenticeship: Foundation Degree (or equivalent)

Apprenticeships are paid (as opposed to courses, some of which you may be charged for) so you’ll earn a small wage while building your skillset, and you’ll even benefit from some of the learning sessions that people on a course might, as the business you work for will send you out on training sessions to help you build up your skillset.

Traineeships

Traineeships can be an excellent option for anyone looking to gain experience in an industry who can’t yet commit to a full-time working schedule—perhaps you’re still in education, or work another job to cover your monthly outgoings. Over the course of a few weeks, you’ll spend 70-100 hours gaining valuable work experience, helping to build up your CV and improve your employability, whether as a scaffolder or elsewhere.

How to apply for a Scaffolding apprenticeship?

As part of the government drive to increase the number of apprenticeships offered in the UK, they’ve put together an excellent apprenticeship job portal that most employers use to advertise their apprenticeships. Keep an eye on it, as it updates regularly, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for make a note to check back later.

Local institutions such as colleges or councils often run career events to help boost employment in the nearby regions. They’re a great opportunity to learn more about the market, talk to professionals who enjoy their work and share your CV and contact details with a number of potential employers.

And finally, you can always search for local scaffolding businesses and contact them directly. While a very forward approach (and one some might not be comfortable making) it’ll indicate to potential employers that you’re keen to work and have researched their business, which many would find an impressive quality to have.

2. Courses

Courses are a great option for anybody who excels in learning in a (potentially virtual) classroom. You’ll have the opportunity to sit down and learn the fundamentals of the industry and, when ready, head out into the field with your classmates to begin practical exercises. Both full and part-time scaffolding courses are available, so you can pick one to fit around your needs and time allowances.

What do I need to get into a Scaffolding course?

Every college is different, but if you meet the following requirements you should have a pretty good chance of being accepted.

  • Level 1: 0-2 GCSEs (pass or above)
  • Level 2: 2+ GCSEs (D or above)
  • Level 3: 4-5 GCSEs (C or above)

You’ll have access to tutors and staff members with years of industry experience, who will be on hand to answer any questions you might have. Probably almost as useful as the tutors will be your careers team, who can help you to build up your CV, sell your experience and (hopefully) come out of the programme with a job at the end of it.

Where can I find Scaffolding courses UK?

Many of the UK’s top colleges advertise through the National Careers Service portal, so we’d recommend this as the first stop on your search. Otherwise, check the websites of local college and course providers to find out application deadlines and what’s offered, as well as a more in-depth review of what the course entails.

3. Work Experience

Scaffolding is a risky business, and employers need to know they’re employing somebody they can trust to do a good job. As such, you might find it more difficult to gain scaffolding experience through work experience than in other industries (such as gardening).

If this is the route you’re looking to take, there are a few things you can do to give yourself as best a chance as possible. Firstly, make sure you have an up-to-date, well-presented CV. The first impression you’re able to make on many businesses is through your CV, so it’s important that they think of you as intelligent and detail-orientated.

Make sure you’ve prepared for an interview, too. Dress smartly, and be prepared to answer questions about your motivations, career aspirations and come prepared with a few reasons why you might make a good employee.

What does a Scaffolder do in the UK?

Scaffolding work isn’t too complicated to understand at a basic level. Most of your working day will be spent putting up, taking down or maintaining scaffolding for use by your business and others. Attention to detail is so important here—it’s vital to make sure that every piece of scaffolding is set-up correctly, as people’s health depends on it.

That being said, every day will be slightly different, so here are some of the things you can expect to come across regularly.

  • Unloading/loading scaffolding from a truck
  • Putting together a stable base for the construction
  • Attaching scaffolding to buildings
  • Setting up safety nets/precautions (guard rails etc.)
  • Laying planks/walkways for workers to use
  • Taking down scaffolding upon project completion

Do I need insurance as a Scaffolder?

Yes, you’ll definitely need insurance as a scaffolder. If you’re employed full-time by a business, then you should be covered by their insurance policies (but this is still worth checking), but if you’re running your own business or are self-employed then you’ll definitely want some coverage. Our in-depth guide to Scaffolders insurance is a great resource if you want to learn more.

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The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.