This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Scaffolders put up and take down scaffolding for building, painting, repairing, seating and industrial purposes.
Scaffolders with without a qualification usually earn about
$15-$17 per hour
Qualified scaffolders usually earn
$17-$30 per hour
Source: Scaffolding and Rigging New Zealand (SARNZ).
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015
Pay for scaffolders varies depending on experience and qualifications.
- New scaffolders with no qualifications or experience usually start on minimum wage or a little more.
- Scaffolders with an elementary scaffolding qualification usually earn about $16 to $22 an hour.
- Scaffolders with an advanced scaffolding qualification can earn $20 to $30 an hour.
- Scaffolders who oversee a team can earn $25 to $35 an hour.
Source: Scaffolding, Access and Rigging Associastion of New Zealand (SARNZ).
What you will do
Scaffolders may do some or all of the following:
- calculate scaffold loadings and decide what scaffolding platform to build
- check worksites for hazards
- unload scaffolding from trucks
- fit steel tubes and support braces together to form the scaffolding framework
- lay wooden boards (sole plates) on the ground to spread the weight of the scaffolding
- fasten ladders and guard rails to scaffolding
- take down the scaffolding and load it onto trucks
- check and maintain scaffolding equipment
- regularly inspect erected scaffolding for safety
- talk with clients and discuss their needs and requirements.
Skills and knowledge
Scaffolders need to have:
- knowledge of how to erect and disassemble scaffolding
- knowledge of how to use and care for scaffolding equipment
- knowledge of building regulations
- knowledge of workplace and construction site safety regulations
- the ability to identify potential hazards
- the ability to interpret building plans and diagrams.
- usually work 40-hour weeks, but may be required to work longer hours, and on weekends
- often work outside on buildings, at concert and sports venues, boats, bridges and oil rigs
- work at heights, sometimes in dangerous conditions
- travel locally to sites, and they may travel out of town for some large jobs.
What's the job really like?
Graham Burke - Scaffolding Company Managing Director
Painting led to scaffolding
Graham Burke got into scaffolding when he was working for a painting contractor. "They had their own equipment and I did a basic suspended scaffolding ticket while I was working for them, and eventually opened my own scaffolding company."
That was 15 years ago. Graham now employs 20 staff. His days are mainly spent running the business, but he does get to oversee the projects his company works on.
Problem-solving skills key to being a good scaffolder
While being fit and strong are important qualities for a scaffolder, Graham says being able to solve problems is just as important for someone who wants to get ahead in the industry.
"To be a good scaffolder you've got to be able to overcome problems. A lot of the guys probably don't even know they're doing it, but there's quite complicated engineering and design involved in erecting scaffolding."
There are no entry requirements to work as an unqualified scaffolder working in a labouring capacity or as a trainee, as long as you work under the supervision of a qualified scaffolder.
To become qualified you must do an apprenticeship and achieve a national certificate in scaffolding, or hold an equivalent international qualification.
Six levels of scaffolding qualifications are available from a National Certificate in Scaffolding (Elementary) to a Diploma in Managing Scaffolding Operations.
National certificates in scaffolding are overseen by the industry training organisation (ITO), the Skills Organisation. National certificates in scaffolding involve both on-the-job training and theory work. Tai Poutini Polytechnic is the only recognised provider of scaffolding certificates and diplomas.
- Tai Poutini Polytechnic website - information on national certificates in scaffolding
- The Skills Organisation - industry training information on doing a scaffolding qualification
Level 1 NCEA in at least one subject is useful if you want to do a scaffolding apprenticeship through Tai Poutini polytechnic. However, the polytechnic also accepts people who can demonstrate sound written and oral skills. Useful secondary school subjects include maths and English.
Year 11 and 12 students can learn more about the construction industry, and gain relevant skills, by doing a National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades (Levels 1 and 2) through the BConstructive programme.
For Year 11 to 13 students, the Gateway Programme offers industry-based training that can be undertaken while still at school.
- Tertiary Education Commission website - information on the Gateway programme
- BConstructive website - information on the BConstructive programme
Scaffolders need to be:
- safety-conscious, careful, and responsible
- practical and accurate, with an eye for detail
- able to follow instructions
- able to work well in a team
- good at communicating
A good scaffolder has to be able to interpret the customer's needs, design the scaffold and build it efficiently and safely.
Graham Burke - Scaffolding Company Managing Director
Useful experience for scaffolders includes building construction work and any jobs involving physical labour.
Scaffolders need to be fit, strong and agile with good balance and hand-eye co-ordination. They must also be able to work at heights.
Find out more about training
- The Skills Organisation
- 0508 754 557 - www.skills.org.nz
- Scaffolding and Rigging Association of NZ (SARNZ) Inc
- (04) 589 0253 - firstname.lastname@example.org - sarnz.org.nz
- Tai Poutini Polytechnic
- (03) 769 9400 - email@example.com - www.tpp.ac.nz/
What are the chances of getting a job?
Opportunities for scaffolders are good due to:
- a strong residential building sector - the value of consents issued in 2013 was 28% up on the previous year
- a stable commercial (non-residential) building sector - year on year consents increased 7%.
- too few people achieving qualifications, especially at the advanced level.
The building and construction industry is expected to continue to strengthen in 2014. Much of this work will be in Auckland and Christchurch. However, work is also picking up in other regions, such as Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, and Nelson.
In some regions the building and construction industry is performing less well and opportunities for scaffolders may be harder to come by.
Opportunities best for qualified scaffolders
Although demand is improving for all scaffolders, it is particularly good for people who hold a scaffolding certificate, particularly at an advanced level. As a result, advanced scaffolder appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging highly skilled scaffolders to come to New Zealand who:
- hold a National Certificate in Scaffolding (Level 4) with strands in advanced scaffolding, or an equivalent qualification
- have completed at least five years' work experience since obtaining this level.
Having a heavy vehicle licence will also improve your chances of getting a job.
Scaffolders needed to rebuild after Canterbury earthquakes
Construction in Canterbury picked up significantly in 2013 and further growth is expected in 2014.
High demand for their skills has seen scaffolder included on Immigration New Zealand's Canterbury Skill Shortage List, which highlights occupations expected to be in shortage during the rebuild of the region.
Need for scaffolders on offshore oil and gas platforms
Scaffolders are also in good demand to work on offshore oil and gas platforms, such as those that exploit Taranaki's Maui gas field.
Scaffolders mainly work for private companies
Most scaffolders work for private scaffolding companies. These range from businesses with just a few workers to nationwide companies that employ hundreds of staff.
- Birkby, L, Scaffolding, administrator, Access and Rigging Association of New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interiew, April 2014.
- Department of Building and Housing, New Zealand Housing and Construction Quarterly, December 2013, accessed March 2014, (www.dbh.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Canterbury Skill Shortage List', accessed March 2014, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', accessed April 2014, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
- McClintock, J, operations manager, Certified Builders Association, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2014.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2013 Occupational Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2014.
- Statistics New Zealand, 'Building Consents Issued January 2014', accessed April 2014, (www.stats.govt.nz).
- Verkerk, M, communications, Scaffolding, Access and Rigging New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2013.
Progression and specialisations
Scaffolders usually start in a general scaffolding role and later move into a supervisory role. They may progress to start their own businesses.
Last updated 21 April 2016