A scaffolder is a building professional who specializes in putting up scaffolds and platforms. These individuals can erect scaffolds related to building construction, and they can also work on offshore oil rigs, power stations, and projects such as parade viewing platforms. Prospects for this type of work are variable, with demand being higher during periods of economic growth. The pay is typically low, because the work is fairly basic, although those who specialize in more complex types of jobs may be able to obtain better salaries.
In order to become a scaffolder, someone needs to be physically fit and a high school graduate. It also helps to feel comfortable working at heights. Training is provided on the job, with trainees eventually having the opportunity to work their way up into higher ranking positions on the team, including the position of supervisor. Experienced professionals may eventually become scaffolding contractors, contracting the work out to teams of people rather than doing it themselves.
Putting up scaffolding starts with determining the requirements for the job and making a plan. The structure is classically made from metal pipes, which can be clicked together to create a frame that is easily configured as needs change. Wood can also be used. As scaffolding is put up, platforms are established for holding tools and walking. Safety measures, such as nets to catch dropped tools, must also be added in some cases. When the job is finished, scaffolders dismantle the scaffolding and take it away.
Scaffolding is needed for some types of new building construction, along with painting, renovation, and restoration of all sorts of structures. A skilled scaffolder can work as part of a team of people to put up a stable, well-anchored scaffolding that may stay up for weeks, months, or years, depending on the job. The structure may also need to be periodically adjusted and reconfigured as the job progresses, and the specialist may have special concerns if restoration work is occurring, as he or she wants to avoid damaging the structure beneath the scaffolding.
Being able to work as part of a team is essential for this position, as most jobs require multiple people. An eye to safety and mechanical aptitude are also valuable skills, as the work that scaffolders do must be done properly, or it can put people in danger. It can also help to have a more general interest in and understanding of construction, to ensure that scaffolding is planned and placed properly.