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Scaffolders erect and dismantle temporary metal structures, usually around buildings, which allow other construction trades to carry out their jobs safely.


Average salaries are in the region of £12,000.00 to £44,000.00. Salaries will vary depending on location / employer

Career Profile

Scaffolders erect and dismantle temporary metal structures, usually around buildings, which allow other construction trades to carry out their jobs safely.

What they do

Scaffolding of all sizes can be seen in any town, city or on industrial sites.  Scaffolding is often needed in high risk areas such as chemical plants, gas terminals and off-shore platforms and it takes real skill to build and dismantle it efficiently. Other construction workers must be able to rely on the safety and reliability of scaffolding while they work on the exterior of a building.  Sometimes scaffolding is also used to construct stages and seating areas for music concerts and festivals.

Working in construction as a scaffolder is ideally suited for anyone who enjoys being outdoors in a physically-demanding job that keeps them fit with a lot of climbing and lifting.

As with many other jobs in construction, scaffolders will need to be able to work with the minimum of supervision.

Typical duties include:

  • Unloading scaffolding equipment at the site
  • Putting up the scaffolding poles (standards) and attaching them to the horizontal tubes (ledgers)
  • Fixing the scaffolding to the buildings or structures
  • Laying planks (battens) for workers to walk on
  • Fixing guard rails and safety netting and take them down after the work is done 
  • Carrying out scaffolding operations including setting base plates (that stop the upright poles slipping) 
  • Leading, supervising and taking part in creating different kinds of platforms, from simple scaffolding (built of wooden planks and metal poles) to complex structures including suspended scaffold, cantilever drop and temporary roofs

Trainee construction jobs in scaffolding are available and involve performing all the tasks above with supervision, gradually being given more responsibility as your experience grows.  It takes 18 months to become a scaffolder but additional training and experience can see you progress and your skills could allow you to work abroad.

Advanced scaffolders build temporary platforms needed by people who work high above the ground on building sites or repair projects. They are very safety conscious when in charge of tasks such as unloading equipment at the site, putting up standards and attaching ledgers to them.

A scaffolding supervisor or manager is responsible for all aspects of the high temporary platforms that builders need to work above ground level.

They take charge of the scaffolding operations and other responsibilities, including:

  • Pricing the job
  • Making sure there are enough workers to complete the job
  • Ordering equipment needed
  • Supervising work being carried out

Hours & Salary:

  • Newly trained scaffolders can earn in the region of £12,500 - £23,000
  • Trained with experience scaffolders can earn in the region of £30,000 - £32,000
  • Senior/master crafts scaffolders can earn in the region of £33,000+
  • Self-employed scaffolders set their own pay rates

Salaries will depend on your location, employer and the amount of overtime worked. 


 

Use our Careers Explorer A-Z to get more information on the range of construction jobs available.

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which construction career is right for you.

Case Study

Michael Hardie is a trainee scaffolder with Balfour New Window Beatty Civil Engineering.

What do you do?

I’m studying for a part one scaffolding course with CITB in Glasgow. We work on various projects such as the Edinburgh Waverley train station and I’m currently working on the Forth Rail Bridge. We’re erecting the scaffolding for the painters to come and paint the bridge. They’re giving it a new coat of paint that will last 25 years.

How did you get started?

When I left school, scaffolding was the first thing I applied for and luckily I got the job. That was just me getting into it and I’ve never regretted it. I enjoy it. The biggest challenge for me is probably dealing with the heights, sometimes in excess of 250 feet. You’ve just got to adapt to it and get used to it. That’s all part of the role, as it is with many other jobs in construction.

My mates ask me all the time what it’s like working at height, especially where I work on the Forth Rail Bridge - 250 feet in the air! They ask me if I’m scared and I tell them I’ve just got used to it. I was a bit scared at first but you just get on with it.

Big ambition?

In 10 years' time I see myself with the company I’m with now, hopefully progressing to become a supervisor of some sort. 

Take our Personality Quiz to find out which of the careers in construction is right for you

Qualifications & Training

There are no formal requirements to become a trainee scaffolder but it helps to have Standard Grades or National 4 or 5s, GCSEs in English and maths at grades A* - C or equivalent such as the Welsh Baccalaureate.

For construction jobs in Scotland, you start training with an employer and follow the Construction Industry Scaffolder's Record Scheme (CISRS), which is the nationally recognised training scheme for scaffolding.

A driving licence is useful and in many cases necessary and you must hold a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card or equivalent to work on a site.

Employers such as construction companies and construction agencies are keen to see some on-site experience. If you don’t have any, you could work as a scaffolding labourer to start with. Your employer might then train you as a scaffolder.

You may also be able to sign up to one of the many construction apprenticeships available. These include an 11-week training programme completed over a two-year period. This earns you the CISRS Scaffolders card, a Construction Diploma Level 2, NVQ Level 2, Functional Skills Level 1 and a Health and Safety Test (Essential Skills in Wales).

Advanced Scaffolder

Once you’re a qualified scaffolder you must get another year of practical work experience under your belt before attending a two-week advanced scaffolder training course in Traditional Tube and Fitting.

You register for the NVQ Level 3 in Accessing Operations and Rigging (Scaffolder) and start to gather evidence for the qualification. You also need to complete a two-day skills test for the NVQ. After that you can apply for your Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) Advanced Scaffolder Card, valid for five years.   

The System Scaffold Product Training Scheme (SSPTS) is also available. This two-day course (not available to new scaffolders) develops traditional tube and fitting skills with a new product such as Layher, Kwikstage or Tradlok. You can apply for endorsement on your CISRS card for the training. 

Scaffolding Supervisor

After qualifying as an advanced scaffolder you can go on to complete a five-day Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) supervisory and construction management course. You take a ConstructionSkills supervisory and management health and safety test then apply for a supervisor CISRS card.

Learn more about how to get into construction

Want to find out more?

Try our Matching Service for work experience opportunities in your local area, with new opportunities being added on a regular basis. 

Looking for a vacancy?

Here are some construction vacancy websites you may find useful: 

NASC (National Access & Scaffolding Confederation - provides a list of companies you can contact directly)

Scaffolder Forum

Indeed

Total Jobs

The number of job vacancies related to your preferred job role may vary daily, as these are external websites. Check regularly to see new opportunities as they are posted.

Career trends and forecasts

790 additional staff needed

According to the latest Construction Skills Network research, the UK construction industry will need an additional 790 scaffolders every year for the period 2017 - 2021. The highest demand for these construction jobs will be in East England followed by South West and Yorkshire & Humber.

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