How to become a Scaffolder

scaffolder careers

What does a Scaffolder do?

Scaffolders erect and dismantle working platforms which allow construction workers access to higher levels on existing buildings and structures during renovation or maintenance work, and to upper levels on new-build projects.

Jobs can range from putting up scaffold around a house to allow for re-roofing, through to large-scale construction of new commercial developments, external cleaning of office blocks, and repair of historical monuments. Scaffolders also use scaffolding techniques to erect permanent or semi-permanent structures for spectator stands, stages and other uses.

The scaffold itself is made up of a series of upright metal tubes (standards) joined with couplers to horizontal poles (ledgers). At right angles to these are transoms, usually much shorter in length, on which the wooden working platforms (battens) rest. To add strength to the scaffold, cross-braces are placed at diagonals and where possible, clamps are used to 'tie in' the scaffold to the building or structure. Guard rails and safety nets are added to minimise dangers for the workers using it and for anybody passing below.

Falsework scaffolding involves providing a framework to support the formwork or shuttering and reinforcement bars used in making large concrete structures, such as bridges. The scaffolding is removed once the concrete has set.

All scaffolders work in teams to strict safety standards and use a variety of hand tools and safety equipment including swivel spanners, spirit-levels, harnesses and hoists.

What's the working environment like working as a Scaffolder?

Scaffolders work 39 hours a week, but this varies when deadlines must be met.

Scaffolders work indoors and outdoors, and at heights. The work is physically demanding and scaffolders may have to work in cold, dirty or windy conditions. The work involves a lot of climbing, carrying and lifting of heavy equipment.

Protective helmets, footwear and safety harnesses are worn. Travel from site to site is required, as is working away from home for short or long periods. A driving licence would be useful.

What does it take to become a Scaffolder?

To be a scaffolder you should:

  • be able to follow instructions and plans carefully and accurately
  • have good hand-to-eye coordination
  • be physically fit and agile for climbing, and handling heavy equipment
  • enjoy working outdoors and be comfortable working at heights
  • be able to work as part of a team
  • be fully aware of health and safety issues.

Scaffolder Career Opportunities

Scaffolders work for specialist scaffolding firms, building contractors and oil and power companies. There may be opportunities to work abroad on contracts, and it may be possible to progress to supervisory, estimating or construction management roles. With appropriate computer-aided design (CAD) skills, a scaffolder could move into project design and planning.There are opportunities to become self-employed.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Scaffolder that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Bircham Newton
King's Lynn
PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577

National Access and Scaffolding Confederation
Carthusian Court
12 Carthusian St
Tel: 020 7397 8120

Courses to help you become a Scaffolder