What is a Steeplejack?
Steeplejacks are skilled professionals who work on tall structures like chimneys, cooling towers, and church spires. Their job involves climbing to great heights and performing maintenance, repairs, or renovations on these structures. In this guide, we’ll delve deeper into what exactly a Steeplejack does, how to become one, the salary you can expect, career prospects, and related opportunities.
What Does a Steeplejack Do?
Being a Steeplejack is an exciting yet challenging job. Here’s what these professionals do in a nutshell:
- Steeplejacks work outdoors in all weather conditions, so you should be comfortable with that.
- Safety is a top priority, so you need to be very conscious of and committed to safety procedures.
- While you’ll typically work a 40-hour week, your shifts can vary, and you might have to work during evenings and weekends.
- The work is physically demanding, involving rigging, climbing, carrying ladders and tools, and using your hands.
- You’ll wear protective clothing and headgear, and sometimes you may need respiratory equipment, especially if you’re working on dusty industrial chimneys.
- Having a driving license can be useful because you might have to travel to different job sites.
- Steeplejacks work on various high structures, including power station chimneys, cooling towers, oil refineries, factories, and church spires.
- Your tasks will include climbing to high places with your tools to complete routine maintenance, repairs, or renovation projects.
- Ensuring safety and accessibility is crucial, so you’ll set up ladders, specialist scaffolding, or use industrial rope access (abseiling), work platforms (cradles), bosun’s chairs (harnesses), and fall-arrest devices.
How to Become a Steeplejack
Now that you have an idea of what the job entails, let’s explore how to become a Steeplejack.
- Surprisingly, there are no formal entry qualifications required for this job, but having certain qualifications can be helpful.
- It’s useful to have GCSE/National 5 passes in Maths, English, a science subject, and Technology.
- Pre-entry experience within the construction industry, even as a labourer or tradesperson, can be advantageous.
- Young entrants can start their training on the job with an employer.
- Another path is to become an apprentice within an approved apprenticeship scheme. The CITB Constructive program provides opportunities for apprenticeships.
- You may be required to take aptitude tests in maths and problem-solving, and you’ll also be assessed in literacy and your ability to work at heights.
- Apprentices typically spend 6 months out of a 2-year period at the residential National Construction College, with college-based training beginning in January each year.
- During your training, you’ll work towards NVQs/SVQs Levels 2 or 3 in Accessing Operations and Rigging – Steeplejacking. You may also take various other CITB-accredited courses like Health and Safety, First Aid, Mobile Towers, Fire Fighting, Safe Use of Ladders, and Industrial Rope Access.
Career Paths and Apprenticeships
- Once you’ve gained experience and qualifications, you can progress in your career.
- Employers usually require you to have the CSCS card issued by the Construction Skills Certification Scheme as proof of your competence working on-site.
- To maintain your qualifications, you may consider joining the Association of Technical Lightning and Access Specialists (ATLAS).
You might be wondering about the financial aspects of becoming a Steeplejack. Here’s what you can expect:
- Trainee Steeplejacks can earn between £15,000 and £17,000 a year.
- After becoming qualified, your salary may increase to around £23,000.
- As you gain experience and possibly take on more responsibilities, such as becoming a supervisor or manager within a firm, your earning potential can continue to grow.
- With advanced skills and extra responsibilities, senior engineers can earn in excess of £28,000 a year.
- Overtime and shift allowances can also significantly boost your wage.
Career Prospects and Progression
As a Steeplejack, you’ll likely work for construction firms that specialize in steeplejacking. These firms are typically located in major UK cities like London, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. Here’s a glimpse of what your future might hold:
- With experience and dedication, you can advance in your career, potentially reaching supervisor or manager positions within your firm.
- While becoming self-employed is possible with significant experience, it’s not very common in this field.
- Opportunities to work abroad are increasing, providing exciting prospects for those who enjoy travelling and working on different structures around the world.
If you’re interested in the world of construction but not sure if being a Steeplejack is the right fit for you, there are related opportunities you can explore:
- Bricklayer: These professionals focus on building structures with bricks and other masonry materials.
- Roofer: Roofers specialize in installing and repairing roofs on various types of buildings.
- Scaffolder: Scaffolders are responsible for setting up scaffolding structures to aid in construction and maintenance work.
- Stonemason: Stonemasons work with natural stone, shaping it for use in construction, restoration, and decoration.
For more details and resources related to becoming a Steeplejack, you can visit the following websites: