by Frederike Berg
How to become a scaffolder
Looking for a versatile job with lots of action and team spirit? Then it is very likely that scaffolder is the right profession for you.
In everyday life, you are likely to walk past the scaffolder’s work all the time - certainly often without really noticing the complex scaffolding constructions. But behind the tubes and boards there are a lot of challenges and solution strategies that a scaffolder encounters every day.
In fact, no two scaffolding projects are exactly alike. From the renovation of a façade of a family home to bridge construction and shipbuilding - scaffolding is used wherever construction and maintenance work is possible. And to be able to correctly erect, dismantle, convert and maintain scaffolding, you need the right know-how. Read on to learn how you can achieve the right skills and qualifications to become a scaffolder.
What are the main tasks of a scaffolder?
First of all, it is important for you to know what a scaffolder actually does all day. In brief, their essential tasks include:
- planning, calculation as well as preparation of the construction sketch of the scaffolding
- assembly, dismantling and, if necessary, anchoring of working and protective scaffolding, formwork, emergency stairs, grandstands and more, as well as preparation of the respective standing area
- selection, loading and transport of the required scaffolding material
- storage and maintenance of the scaffolding material
- measurements and calculations, e.g. of stand areas and material quantities
Compliance with the applicable safety standards is of great importance for everyday work in scaffolding. Every scaffolder must know these and always implement them to ensure the greatest possible safety at work.
What can you expect during your training as a scaffolder?
The ways to become a scaffolder are as varied as the profession itself. From on-job training to special courses for aspiring scaffolders e.g. in Construction Operations, there are several ways to pursue this career. In some countries you can even do an apprenticeship of up to 3 years as a scaffolder. During this time, you will learn, for example:
- how to plan a scaffold and make the necessary calculations
- which building regulations and safety standards you have to comply with and how to do so
- how to understand and make blueprints, diagrams and construction sketches
- how to operate cranes and hoists for loading scaffolding materials
Typically, the training has a dual structure. For example, you learn the necessary theory at a vocational school. This includes, among other things:
- how to read the technically relevant details from construction plans and sketches
- how to prepare and use technical documentation
- how to calculate load-bearing capacities and determine dimensions
- how to comply with legal requirements and safety standards on the construction site
- and last but not least, how to work with certain materials such as steel, aluminium or plastics.
In the training company, it's all about practice. That means: off to the construction site! Because you learn the scaffolding trade not only through mere theory, but above all by working practically. In practice, you will learn about the individual components of a scaffolding system and how to connect them properly. But before you can start with your own first scaffold assembly, you will find out that there is still a lot you have to do first. You will learn
- how to make a plan of the scaffold and construction sketches
- how to transport the scaffolding material properly to the construction site
- how to check the stability of the ground
- and how to prepare it for the scaffold if necessary.
Once you've got all that down, you can start climbing high up. You need to have a head for heights. Like your trained colleagues, you assemble the scaffolding level by level - always under the watchful eye of your trained supervisor, of course. This is all the more important, because scaffolding requires teamwork and everyone must be able to rely 100 per cent on the actions of the others. In the course of your training, you will be allowed to work more and more independently.
For example in Germany, a stay of several weeks at a special training centre is also part of your training as a scaffolder. There, you will learn the theory and practice of the types of scaffolding that your training company may not offer. In this way, you receive comprehensive training that optimally prepares you for your future day-to-day work in scaffolding.
Many career prospects in scaffolding and construction
In most countries, not everyone who needs scaffolding for their work is allowed to simply erect and dismantle it themselves. For that, you need staff who are properly trained. And this is where you come in. Because after you completed an apprenticeship or training as a scaffolder, you will be needed wherever there is construction work to be done. You have a lot of job opportunities, e.g.
- in scaffolding companies
- in bridge building
- in tunnel construction
- in shipyards
- in mine construction
- for grandstand and stage construction in the event industry
And there are also many opportunities for further training. For example, you can build on your training as a scaffolder and, for example, take further training to become a
- scaffolding inspector
- supervisor or team leader
- construction manager
- project manager
- or self-employed with your own scaffolding company
Sounds good to you? Below, we have a few helpful links for you to help you get started in the scaffolding industry:
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