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Thermal Insulation Engineer

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

Thermal Insulation Engineer

The Work

As a thermal insulation engineer you would fit insulation materials around pipes, boilers and ductwork. You could work in factories, offices, power stations or on ships. You might also be known as a pipework lagger.

Your duties would include:

  • planning where to put insulation by referring to building layout plans
  • deciding what materials to use for a particular job
  • preparing and cleaning the surfaces to be insulated
  • measuring and cutting insulation materials to size
  • fitting insulation using clips, adhesives or cement
  • sealing the work area after completing the installation.

Hours and Environment

You would normally work 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Overtime may be required to meet deadlines.

Your working conditions could be cramped, hot, dirty and dusty, and some jobs may involve working at heights.

This job may occasionally require you to work with hazardous substances like asbestos. If so, you would be provided with protective clothing.

This job may involve a lot of travel, which could mean overnight stays away from home for days or weeks at a time.

Skills and Interests

  • good practical skills for cutting, shaping and fitting materials
  • good maths skills for making measurements and working out quantities
  • the ability to work in confined spaces and at heights
  • good teamworking skills
  • the ability to follow safe working practices
  • a good level of fitness
  • a willingness to work flexibly and to travel.


You can become an insulation engineer in one of two ways:

  • by joining an apprenticeship scheme
  • by using your experience of a related industry (such as air conditioning) and applying directly to employers.

Visit the Insulation & Environmental Training Agency (IETA) website for more details about Apprenticeships. To get on to a scheme, you would normally need a minimum of four GCSEs or equivalent, in subjects such as maths, English, science, technology or engineering.


As a trainee insulation engineer, you would work towards the NVQ Level 2 in Thermal Insulation. The NVQ includes units on:

  • putting up and dismantling access platforms
  • applying insulation materials
  • fabricating and fitting protective cladding
  • working safely.

The NVQ would involve on-site learning and assessment with your employer, combined with training at one of IETA’s approved training centres. You could also take the NVQ if you are already working as an engineer without qualifications.

IETA's partner group, the Asbestos Control & Abatement Division (ACAD) also offers a range of short training courses for engineers working with asbestos. You can find more details about these on the IETA website.

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Many building contractors now insist that you have a CSCS card to work on their sites. The card is proof of your skills and competence. To get your card you must:

  • pass a health and safety assessment
  • have an NVQ or equivalent qualification.

If you are working without qualifications, you may be able to use On-Site Assessment and Training (OSAT) or Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) to get your NVQ and card. Contact CSCS, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) or SkillsDirect for further details.

See the ConstructionSkills website for more details about careers and training in the construction industry.


Issues around energy conservation and regulations on the environmental impact of buildings may lead to increased job opportunities. Vacancies are advertised in the local press, through Jobcentre Plus, Directgov (Jobseekers page) and on the IETA website.

Your promotion prospects could include technical, supervisory and managerial roles, such as foreperson, site safety officer and contracts manager. You could also use your skills to move into related areas, such as heating and ventilation engineering or air-conditioning and refrigeration.

Annual Income

  • Apprentices usually earn between £10,000 and £16,000 a year, depending on the stage of training.
  • Experienced engineers can earn between £17,000 and £22,000.
  • Senior thermal insulation engineers can earn up to £30,000 a year.

Contract work is common, which could include bonus payments for early completion. You may receive further allowances for working away from home.

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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