Career Snapshot

A steeplejack is a craftsman who scales buildings, chimneys and church steeples to carry out repairs or maintenance. Steeplejacks carry out repair work high above the ground on construction sites, power stations, high rise buildings or on monuments, churches and castles. They ensure they are structurally sound and may also install lightning conductors.

Job Details

Steeplejacks typically do the following:

  • Carrying out repairs, maintenance and renovation work on industrial chimneys, power station cooling towers, church spires, castles, high-rise buildings and bridges
  • Installing lightning conductors
  • Earthing large machinery
  • Assembling ladders and scaffolding, mobile work platforms, traditional harnesses and industrial ropes for abseiling
  • Fitting aircraft warning lights
  • Replacing roof glass or repairing masonry
  • Painting structures such as bridges
  • Demolishing tall chimneys or buildings
  • Checking for damage on buildings after adverse weather such as high winds
  • Working with electricians to protect computers and other electronic equipment
  • Reporting on problems and recommending solutions to architects, surveyors and engineers
  • Dismantling equipment and returning it to the ground once the work has been completed

Education and Experience

There are no formal entry requirements to be a steeplejack.  There are several routes to becoming a steeplejack. You can gain the qualifications you need by completing a college course, on-the-job training through an apprenticeship or applying directly to an employer.   You could start your career by studying a construction-related qualification, such as bricklaying or scaffolding, and then specializing to become a steeplejack. If you want to specialize as a lightning conductor engineer, you’ll need ability in math and a basic understanding of electrical theory.

Career Outlook

  • Annual pay: The median annual wage for a steeplejack is approximately $36,000
  • Entry-level education: There are no specific education requirements for steeplejacks. Although most learn on the job, some steeplejacks enter the occupation through an apprenticeship.

Career Growth Opportunity

Experienced steeplejacks can progress onto supervisory or managerial roles and some even set up their own businesses and try their hand at self-employment.

Professional Associations

  • National Roofing Contractors Association - The NRCA’s vision is the recognition of their members as professionals and to unite the industry to that purpose.
  • Roofing Alliance - This organization’s objectives are to conduct research and educational projects that support high-quality programs for roofing contractors; ensure timely and forward-thinking industry responses to major economic and technological issues, and enhance the long-term viability and attractiveness of the industry to roofing workers.
  • United Union of Roofers - The union represents members who apply all types of roofing and waterproofing systems.  Their work places an emphasis on training, safety and cooperation with a goal to provide the safest and best-trained roofers in the industry for their member contractors.
  • 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

  • Construction Today - This online magazine is all about best practices in the general building, heavy construction and associated specialty trade sectors.
  • Point of Beginning Magazine - current issue, archives, news, products, e-newsletter
  • Construction Business Owner – strategy, marketing, management, tech, equipment, safety
  • 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.

Credentials

As Steeplejacks are often called upon to repair or replace masonry (brick, stone or concrete), carry out general carpentry or painting or roof repair, remove or clean or repair windows, perform masonry cleaning tasks, and even sandblast it is likely an apprenticeship, experience and/or certification in any of those construction career sub-sectors would benefit career opportunities.