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Source of Information: Next Step / DirectGov / Careers Advice Service


The Work

Scaffolders put up and take down scaffolding that allows workers to reach the higher levels of buildings during construction, cleaning and renovation projects.

As a scaffolder, you would be part of a small team. Your duties would include:

  • unloading scaffolding equipment at the site
  • setting base plates on the ground at regular intervals (these stop the upright poles slipping)
  • putting up the scaffolding poles (standards) and attaching the horizontal tubes (ledgers) to them with couples
  • fixing the scaffolding to the building or structure to make it more stable, using short 'tie tubes'
  • laying planks (battens) across the scaffolding for workers to walk on
  • fixing guard rails and safety netting
  • taking down the scaffolding after a job is finished.

You might use scaffolding methods to put up temporary spectator stands, stages or gantries at public events. You could also build the scaffold around the formwork and shuttering that holds setting concrete in place on large structures like bridges (known as falsework).

Hours and Environment

You would usually work 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday.

Scaffolding is mainly an outdoor job that involves working in most weather conditions. The work can be physically demanding, with a lot of climbing and lifting of heavy equipment.

Much of your work will be at heights, and you would wear a safety helmet, protective footwear and a safety harness.

You would travel from site to site, and some projects may involve overnight stays away from home.

Skills and Interests

  • the ability to follow instructions accurately
  • practical skills
  • a good sense of balance and a head for heights
  • good hand-to-eye coordination
  • a good level of fitness
  • organisational skills
  • the ability to work as part of a team
  • an understanding of safe working practices.


You would usually start out as a trainee and gain qualifications on the job (see the further training and development section below). Employers usually expect you to have some on-site experience – if you have not worked in construction before, you could gain experience working as a labourer.

You may be able to get into this career through an Apprenticeship scheme with a scaffolding or building firm. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information on Apprenticeships, visit

To start as a trainee, you will need an understanding of maths, English and science – for an Apprenticeship you will usually need GCSEs in maths, English, science and technology, or equivalent qualifications.

The card scheme operated by the Construction Industry Scaffolders’ Record Scheme (CISRS) is the industry-recognised qualification for scaffolding, and shows that you are a competent worker. You can gain the card at the following levels, depending on your job:

  • Labourer
  • Trainee
  • Scaffolder
  • Advanced Scaffolder
  • Supervisor.

If you are working as a labourer, you can gain the Labourer card by taking a CSkills Health & Safety test.

See below for details of the other card levels.


Once you have found work as a trainee scaffolder and have completed a Health & Safety (H & S) test, you can apply for the Trainee card and start your training, which will include:

  • on-site experience
  • off-site training with a CISRS-approved training provider
  • completion of NVQ Level 2 in Accessing Operations and Rigging.

After completing all the above, you can apply for your Scaffolder card, and will be able to carry out basic scaffolding erection, dismantling and alteration as part of a scaffolding gang.

The Advanced card will allow you to work on more complex scaffolding. Gaining this card involves:

  • a further 12 months’ experience
  • attending an Advanced course
  • completing NVQ Level 3 in Access and Rigging Operations
  • completing a further H & S test.

The Advanced card lasts for five years, and can then be renewed by completing the H & S test.

For the Supervisor card, you need to complete:

  • a CISRS 5-day Supervisory course
  • a CSkills Supervisory H & S test.

For details of training providers offering basic and advanced inspection training, check the CISRS website.

Visit the National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) website and the CISRS website for details of the card scheme.


You could work for specialist scaffolding firms, building contractors, or oil and power companies.

With experience, you could move into supervisory, estimating or construction management roles. You could also set up your own business.

You may find the following links useful for job vacancies and general reading: (links open in a new window)

NASC Yearbook (includes a directory of scaffolding companies)
Construction Jobs Network
Directgov (Jobseekers page)

We do not accept responsibility for the content of external sites.

Annual Income

  • Trainee salaries can be up to £13,000, depending on age and stage of training.
  • Qualified and experienced scaffolders can earn between £17,000 and £38,000 a year.

Overtime and shift allowances can increase income. Self-employed scaffolders negotiate their own rates.

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

Further information

If you would like to discuss your career options with a learning advisor at the Careers Advice Service advice line, call 0800 100 900 or use our online enquiry form.


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