Should I Become an Industrial Insulation Contractor?
Industrial insulation contractors apply materials that maintain temperature in pipes, boilers, vats and mechanical equipment. They also prevent contact with dangerous or hazardous materials. These professionals generally work indoors, though insulating gas or oil lines can require working outside occasionally.
A career as an industrial insulation contractor is considered relatively safe, though minor injuries are always a possibility, and insulators spend most of their time standing or bending in small spaces. The only other hazard can come from the insulation itself, which can be an irritant, but wearing protective clothing and making sure the work area is well ventilated can help minimize exposure.
|Education Required||GED or high school diploma; On-the-job training often occurs through apprenticeships|
|Certification||Optional Certification available|
|Key Skills||Dexterity, mechanical skills and physical stamina|
|Salary (2014)||Insulation workers earn a median salary of $33,720|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Step 1: Finish High School
A high school or equivalent diploma is not a strict requirement for entry-level insulation work; however, it can increase chances of employment or acceptance into an apprenticeship program. Industrial insulation work involves a basic understanding of construction, as well as how heat and sound are conducted. According to the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, courses in woodwork, mechanical drawing, physics, algebra and geometry can provide a good educational foundation for insulation contractors (www.insulators.org).
Step 2: Complete a Training Program
Industrial insulation workers can receive informal, on-the-job training or complete a formal apprenticeship program. Entry-level workers and apprentices are generally required to be 18 years old, have a valid driver's license and be able to carry loads up to 50 pounds.
An apprenticeship, which combines work experience with classroom education, may prove the most beneficial. In 2009, the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers reported that 95% of surveyed craftsmen were still employed in the same trade five years after completion of their apprenticeship, and 41% had advanced to leadership positions, with some owning their own businesses. A worker with experience can also join an apprenticeship program to earn journeyman status.
Step 3: Consider Certifications and Licenses
Individuals who certify their skills can advance to supervisory positions. The National Insulation Association offers training to become a Certified Insulation Energy Appraiser, a professional who can determine ideal insulation thickness and calculate potential energy cost savings. Industrial insulation contractors involved in the renovation of an older structure will require workers licensed by the Environmental Protection Agency to inspect for and remove asbestos.
Step 4: Career Advancement
One option for experienced industrial insulation contractors is starting a business. Many states require insulation contractors to be licensed. Typical licensing requirements include a minimum amount of professional experience, liability insurance and a verification of business assets, such as a bond. Some states may require completion of training courses or a passing score on an examination.