What is a Scaffolder?

A Scaffolder is a skilled professional who plays a critical role in construction and maintenance projects by erecting scaffolding structures. These structures provide safe access for workers to perform tasks in various settings, including new construction sites and maintenance of existing buildings and structures. Becoming a Scaffolder involves a combination of practical skills, training, and on-the-job experience.

What does a Scaffolder do?

Scaffolders are responsible for assembling scaffolding systems, which consist of metal tubes, fittings, and wooden or metal platforms. These structures are essential for:

  • New Constructions: Scaffolders create scaffolding to facilitate the construction of new buildings and structures.
  • Maintenance Work: They also erect scaffolding for maintenance and repair work on existing buildings and structures.
  • Special Events: Scaffolders may set up spectator stands, stages, and rigging for outdoor concerts and events.

Scaffolders use various tools such as swivel spanners and spirit levels to ensure the scaffolding is safe and secure. Safety is a top priority in this profession, as Scaffolders must ensure the safety of workers, passers-by, colleagues, and themselves. This requires concentration, practical skills, organization, attention to detail, and the ability to follow instructions accurately.

Physical fitness is crucial, as Scaffolders need to lift and carry equipment up and down ladders. Moreover, they must be comfortable working at significant heights and be capable of working effectively as part of a team of Scaffolders.

How to Become a Scaffolder

Entry Requirements

There are no strict entry requirements for becoming a Scaffolder. However, having some GCSE/National 5 passes in subjects like English, Maths, a science, or Technology can be beneficial. Vocational qualifications such as the BTEC Introductory Certificate or Diploma in Construction (Level 1) can also provide a helpful foundation.

Training and Qualifications

  • Becoming a Scaffolder typically involves on-the-job training while studying for industry-recognized qualifications part-time at a college or training center.
  • Employers often prefer candidates with some on-site experience, so working as a laborer can be a valuable step to develop the necessary skills.
  • The Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) offers a systematic card system that covers various levels, including laborer, trainee, scaffolder, and advanced scaffolder. The CISRS card system ensures that Scaffolders are properly trained and experienced to work safely and competently.
  • To obtain a Scaffolder card, Scaffolders need on and off-site training and an NVQ Level 2 in Accessing Operations and Rigging.
  • Advanced Scaffolders require a Scaffolder Card, 12 months of subsequent experience, and completion of the 7-day Advanced Scaffolding course provided by CISRS, along with the NVQ Diploma in Accessing Operations and Rigging (Construction) (Level 3).

Driving License

Possessing a valid UK driving license is often recommended as part of the job may involve travelling between different worksites.

Working Conditions

Work Environment

Scaffolders primarily work outdoors, often in various weather conditions, and frequently at significant heights.

Safety Equipment

For safety reasons, Scaffolders are required to wear protective gear, including hard hats, boots, and safety harnesses.

Working Hours

Work hours can vary, with Scaffolders typically following a standard workweek from Monday to Friday. However, flexibility is essential as some projects may require early starts, late finishes, or weekend work.

Scaffolder Salary

Scaffolders’ salaries can fluctuate depending on factors such as experience, location, and qualifications. Here’s a general overview of the salary range:

  • Apprentices/Trainees: Starting as an apprentice or trainee, you can earn up to £14,000 per year.
  • Qualified Scaffolders: Once qualified, Scaffolders can earn salaries ranging from £17,000 to £30,000 per year, with experience being a significant factor.
  • Self-Employed or Contract Scaffolders: Those working as self-employed or contract Scaffolders often have the opportunity to negotiate higher pay rates.
  • Overtime and Bonuses: Overtime is frequently available, and some projects offer performance-related bonuses, which can lead to higher earnings.

Career Prospects and Progression

The field of scaffolding offers various opportunities for career progression and development:

  • Specialization: Experienced Scaffolders can choose to specialize in specific areas within the scaffolding industry, enhancing their expertise.
  • Technical Roles: With more experience, Scaffolders can transition into technical roles, supervisory positions, and eventually managerial roles.
  • Entrepreneurship: For those with substantial experience and knowledge, starting their own scaffolding business or consulting firm is an option.
  • Overseas Opportunities: Experienced Scaffolders may explore contract work opportunities abroad, gaining international experience.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Diverse Locations: Scaffolders have the chance to work in a variety of locations and may be involved in major sports and music events or film sets.
  • Impactful Work: They play a crucial role in ensuring that construction and maintenance projects can be carried out safely and efficiently.


  • Physical Demands: The job can be physically demanding, and working at heights can be challenging for some individuals.

Related Opportunities

If you’re interested in careers related to construction and building, you might consider exploring these options:

  • Building Technician: Focuses on assisting with various technical aspects of construction projects.
  • Construction Operative: Involves performing a range of tasks on construction sites.
  • Roofer: Specializes in roofing systems, maintenance, and repairs.
  • Steeplejack: Works on tall structures, including church steeples and chimneys.

Further Information

For additional information and resources related to the scaffolding profession, you can refer to the following organizations and websites:

These organizations provide valuable insights, training opportunities, and support for individuals interested in pursuing a career as a Scaffolder.

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