This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Building insulators install or apply special material to buildings or equipment to prevent or reduce heat, cold, air, sound or moisture.
New building insulators usually earn
$16-$18 per hour
Experienced building insulators usually earn
$18-$25 per hour
Source: Insulation Association of New Zealand, 2016.
Pay for building insulators varies depending on employer, region and experience.
- Pay for new building insulators ranges from minimum wage to $18 an hour.
- Experienced building insulators usually earn between $18 and $25 an hour.
- They may earn more than this if they are leading a team.
Some building insulators are paid according to the amount of work they complete. They may earn:
- a standard salary and a bonus for each square metre of insulation they install
- a rate based on the amount of work they complete.
Pay for building insulators who run their own businesses varies depending on the success and size of their business.
Source: Insulation Association of New Zealand, 2016.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Building insulators may do some or all of the following:
- advise clients on what insulation to use
- erect scaffolding, trestles or ladders
- install heat, sound or fireproofing insulation in ceilings and walls, and under floors
- put draught sealant around doors and windows
- install insulation around hot water cylinders
- use equipment to inject loose fill or foam insulation
- insulate vehicles and boats.
Skills and knowledge
Building insulators need to have:
- knowledge of insulation materials and methods
- the ability to read building plans.
Building insulators who are self-employed also need business skills.
- usually work regular office hours, but may have to work overtime, including evenings and weekends
- work in buildings, including homes, factories, hospitals, offices and on construction sites
- sometimes work in small enclosed areas such as ceiling spaces, under floors or in engine rooms and freezers, which may be noisy, hot, cold, dirty, dusty, and/or hazardous
- travel to work sites.
What's the job really like?
Attention to detail key to doing a good insulation job
“When we get a job to insulate a house, we get here in the morning, we get a jobs card to tell us how many metres we need to take with us of what materials. Then we load the trucks up and go out to the house.
"We look for all the hazards. Downlights in the ceiling are a big one, and heating sources like chimneys and flues. The potential of burning a house down is possible, so you've got to be careful and you have to know how to put it in properly so that it reduces the risk of fires."
A physical job, a little dirty, a little cramped, but enjoyable
“It is a physical job – you get dirty. You have coveralls, or overalls, that you can put on. A lot of guys don’t wear them in the ceiling, just because you get too warm, but if you’re in the under-floor, you always wear your coveralls because you’re basically lying on the dirt.
“Our safe working height for ceilings is 700 millimetres, which is not that high. So, if you don’t like being on your hands and knees or crawling through a ceiling then you probably wouldn’t like it. But I’m used to it now that I’ve been working here for almost a year, and I enjoy the job.”
There are no specific entry requirements to become a building insulator, as you learn skills on the job.
However, most employers prefer you to:
- have a driver's licence
- pass a drug test
- agree to a pre-employment police check.
You may choose to complete the Insulation Association of New Zealand's (IAONZ) training programme for building insulators, which involves on-the-job training and theory.
There are no specific secondary educational requirements, but NCEA Level 1 is recommended.
Building insulators need to be:
- able to use their initiative and display good judgement
- able to work well with others
- good problem-solvers
- accurate and able to do basic maths.
Basically you just need to be able to work well as part of a team and be prepared to work hard.
Useful experience for building insulators includes:
- building industry work such as carpentry
- general labouring work.
Building insulators need to be fit, healthy and strong, as the work involves climbing and lifting. They also need to be comfortable working in confined spaces and at heights, as they may need to crawl through small spaces under buildings and above ceilings.
Find out more about training
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA)
- 0800 358 676 - www.eeca.govt.nz
- Insulation Association of New Zealand
- firstname.lastname@example.org - www.iaonz.co.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Insulation plans and building boom mean good demand for insulators
Insulators are in demand due to:
- the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, requiring all rented homes to be insulated by 2019
- the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes scheme, which funds subsidised insulation for some rental properties occupied by tenants on low incomes
- a lack of suitable workers applying for building insulator jobs
- a construction boom, including the Christchurch rebuild, which is predicted to extend until at least the end of 2017
- the extra 22,000 houses that are needed over the next 10 years in Auckland, which will generate work for building insulators.
However, like many building jobs, this role can be affected by economic conditions. A downturn in the economy can lower demand for building insulators.
Some insulation work is seasonal
Demand for insulation refits in existing homes tends to fall in spring and summer, with about half as many homes insulated in this period, compared with autumn and winter. Because of this, it's harder to get this kind of work during the warmer months as insulation companies cut back on hiring.
However, insulation companies specialising in new buildings have year-round work.
Building insulators work for private companies
Building insulation companies range from small businesses with only a few staff, to businesses that employ 100 people or more.
- BRANZ and Pacifecon, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 3', July 2015, (www.branz.co.nz).
- Brockie, P, managing director, AbsoluteEnergy Ltd, Careers New Zealand interview, February 2016.
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), 'Funding for Insulation', 16 June 2016, (www.eeca.govt.nz).
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Smith, N, 'New Insulation and Smoke Alarm Requirements Finalised', 19 April 2016, (www.beehive.co.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Building insulators may progress to:
- training or management positions
- sales jobs with insulation products
- buy a franchise or start their own business
Some building insulators specialise in installing products such as fibreglass or foam insulation.
Last updated 30 May 2017