Scaffolding contractors assemble, erect, and dismantle scaffolding.

What Do Scaffolding Contractors Do?

Scaffolding refers to a temporary structure used to elevate and support workers during construction projects; scaffolding contractors are responsible for building, placing and securing this type of structure and for removing it at the completion of the project. In addition to building and breaking down scaffolds, these workers may install ladders, walkways, and handrails at construction sites to make work performed on scaffolding as safe as possible. They unload the scaffolding materials, usually rails and planks made of wood or metal, help to clear and prepare construction sites, and then assemble and install the scaffolding using hand and power tools. Once the construction job is finished, scaffolding contractors disassemble and remove the scaffolding.

Career Snapshot

A scaffolder typically constructs and erects the scaffolding that supports building projects, like construction or shipbuilding. The scaffold builder assembles the scaffolding, often high above the ground, while installing tubing, wood planks (called toe boards), and safety measures for other construction employees. Safety is the number one concern for this job since the scaffold builder is responsible for every person who will climb the structure.

Job Details

Scaffolders typically do the following:

  • Inspect all scaffold components prior to assembly to ensure that components used are of similar material and in good repair before becoming a part of the completed scaffold
  • Build or take apart bracing, scaffolding, and temporary structures
  • Follow construction plans and instructions from supervisors or more experienced workers
  • Maintain fall protection requirements while erecting / dismantling scaffolds
  • Load or unload building materials to be used in scaffolding structure
  • Assemble mobile work platforms, traditional harnesses and industrial ropes for abseiling

Education and Experience

Most individuals with a desire to work as a Scaffolder initially work under the supervision of an expert as an apprentice. There are courses in vocational and community colleges that offer instruction and can facilitate apprenticeship programs, as well as the requisite training hours needed to become certified.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: The average wage for a Scaffolder in May of 2019 was approximately $36,000
  • Employment growth forecast 2018-2028: 11%
  • Entry-level education: Initial training is done on-the-job

Career Growth Opportunity

With experience, you could progress into the role of a supervisor or team leader, or become project manager or construction manager.  You could also work as a self-employed scaffolder, or become a scaffolding consultant and draw complex scaffolds in detail, for upcoming projects.

Professional Associations

  • Scaffold & Access Industry Association - SAIA members are characteristically open to sharing their expertise as well as mentoring others. The global nature of SAIA affords the possibility of interchange and networking with peers from diverse locations and cultural backgrounds.
  • Scaffold Industry Association - SIA is a non-profit organization which promotes scaffold safety and education through its publications, conventions, tradeshows & training programs.
  • Scaffolding Association - This organization works to create a business framework that allows scaffolding contractors of all sizes to deliver professional services and improve the safety, and competitive nature, of the whole industry.
  • Foundation for Trades - The goal of the Foundation for Trades organization is to help a new generation see the value of working with their hands and appreciating a job well done by hard work and talent. We offer a foundation of knowledge in the areas of building trades that will help propel an ever-diminishing workforce toward a rewarding future.
  • Trades Women - Founded in 1979 as a grassroots support organization, the mission of Trades Women is outreach, recruitment, retention and leadership development for women in blue-collar skilled craft.
  • TEACH Construction - TEACH Construction focuses on creating curriculum, and the related Instructional Resources, for the teaching of basic to intermediate skills in construction.
  • North America’s Building Trades Union - NABTU is dedicated to the stability of employment and economic security of organized construction workers in North America. Its purpose is to create more work opportunities, achieve living wages and protect benefit standards, not just for the members of its 14 national and international union affiliates, but for all construction workers.
  • National Skilled Trades Network - NSTN is a National Center for Construction Education & Research (NCCER) Accredited Training Sponsor (ATS) and seeks to support youth and young adults in under-served communities in acquiring the skills needed to become certified skilled trades workers and employable in the lucrative skilled trades industry.
  • The Building Trades Alliance - BTA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of the building trades and to the partnership between the various building trade unions and contractors that drives progress throughout our nation.
  • Construction Employers Association - This organization is committed to leading, learning and making a difference in the Ohio construction industry.  Members include construction companies, specialty contractors, suppliers, and associations – all of whom are among the best in the industry.
  • SkillsUSA - SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. Its mission is to help each student excel. A non-profit national education association, SkillsUSA serves middle-school, high-school and college/postsecondary students preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service (including health) occupations.
  • Construction Today - This online magazine is all about best practices – in the general building, heavy construction and associated specialty trade sectors. Its readers are leaders at major contractors, engineering and design firms, equipment manufacturers, and suppliers of construction materials and building products, as well as public and private project owners and regulators.
  • Builder Online - Articles, research, conferences, editorials, reports and so much more on all topics relative to the skilled construction trades businesses.
  • AEC Business - This website is a blog and podcast forum for construction innovations. It is a great resource for construction business owners looking to up their game with strategic insights. Filled with useful how-to's and a simple writing style, it’s a must-read for construction managers wanting to stay “in the know.”
  • Construction Executive - Construction Executive is a magazine specifically for individuals on the upper rungs of the construction management ladder. It offers insights into the industry’s latest technology and trends, as well as helpful tips for budgeting and building.
  • Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. - ABC's mission is the advancement of the merit shop construction philosophy, which encourages open competition and a free enterprise approach that awards contracts based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) - This mission of this organization is to build a safe, productive and sustainable workforce of craft professionals.  Their vision is to be universally recognized by industry and government as the training, assessment, certification and career development standard for construction and maintenance craft professionals.
  • The Associated General Contractors of America - The Associated General Contractors of America works to ensure the continued success of the commercial construction industry by advocating for federal, state and local measures that support the industry.

Publications

  • Scaffold & Access Magazine - Official publication of the SAIA. Published six times a year.
  • ScaffMag - Popular resource that independently covers the scaffolding and access industry.  Online and in print.
  • Construction Today - This online magazine is all about best practices in the general building, heavy construction and associated specialty trade sectors.
  • STRUCTURE - Content in STRUCTURE includes detailed discussions on unique structural solutions, project overviews, technical updates and in-depth code reviews, all designed to keep structural engineers informed and up to date.

The following industry-related certification information pertinent to the Scaffolding/Scaffolder career sub-sector: