Scaffolder

Kaihanga Rangitupu

Scaffolders design, construct and remove scaffolding around buildings and other structures such as bridges. 

Pay

Trainee scaffolders usually earn

$18-$20 per hour

Scaffolders with qualifications usually earn

$20-$35 per hour

Source: SARNZ, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a scaffolder are good due to high demand for scaffolding for construction.

Pay

Pay for scaffolders varies depending on experience, qualifications and location. Pay rates in Auckland and Christchurch may be higher than the rest of the country. 

  • Scaffolders in training can expect to earn minimum wage or a little more.
  • Scaffolders with initial scaffolding qualifications usually earn $20 to $25 an hour.
  • Those with further scaffolding qualifications can earn $25 to $35 an hour.
  • Scaffolders working as supervisors or foremen can earn $30 an hour or more, which is usually paid as an annual salary.

Source: Scaffolding, Access and Rigging Association of New Zealand (SARNZ), 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Scaffolders may do some or all of the following:

  • talk with clients and discuss their needs and requirements
  • calculate loadings and design a suitable scaffold structure for each situation
  • check worksites for hazards
  • order and co-ordinate transport of scaffolding components
  • load and unload scaffolding from trucks, using forklifts
  • erect scaffold structures
  • regularly inspect scaffolding for safety and make alterations and repairs as needed
  • check and maintain scaffolding equipment
  • lead teams of scaffolders, labourers and trainees.

Skills and knowledge

Scaffolders need to have knowledge of:

  • how to calculate loads and forces
  • how to erect and disassemble scaffolding
  • how to use and care for scaffolding equipment
  • building regulations
  • workplace and construction site safety regulations
  • how to identify potential hazards
  • how to interpret building plans and diagrams
  • how to drive forklifts and trucks.

Working conditions

Scaffolders:

  • usually work 40-hour weeks, but may work longer hours, and at weekends
  • work on buildings, at concert and sports venues, and on boats, bridges and oil rigs
  • work outside at heights, sometimes in dangerous conditions
  • travel locally to sites, and may travel further for some large jobs.

Entry requirements

To become a scaffolder you need to start as a trainee under the supervision of a qualified scaffolder and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Scaffolding. New Zealand Certificates in scaffolding are available at Levels 3, 4 and 5.

You can complete an apprenticeship to gain these qualifications. Industry training organisation The Skills Organisation oversees scaffolder training and apprenticeships.

A driver's licence is also useful. 

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but construction and mechanical technologies, maths and English to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful. 

Year 11 and 12 learners can find out 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 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Personal requirements

Scaffolders need to be:

  • safety-conscious, careful and responsible
  • practical and accurate, with an eye for detail
  • good problem-solvers
  • able to follow instructions
  • able to work well in a team, with leadership potential
  • good at communicating
  • organised.

A good scaffolder has to be able to interpret the customer's needs, design the scaffold and build it efficiently and safely.

Photo: Graham Burke

Graham Burke

CEO, Scaffolding, Access and Rigging New Zealand

Useful experience

Useful experience for scaffolders includes:

  • building or other construction work
  • jobs involving physical labour
  • working as part of a team.

Physical requirements

Scaffolders need to be:

  • fit and strong, as they have to carry scaffolding parts that can weigh over 20 kilograms
  • agile, with good balance and hand-eye co-ordination, for working on the scaffolding
  • comfortable working at heights.

Find out more about training

The Skills Organisation
0508 754 557 - www.skills.org.nz
Scaffolding, Access and Rigging Association of NZ (SARNZ)
(04) 589-8081 - admin@sarnz.org.nz - sarnz.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Changing laws and construction boom increase demand for scaffolders

Opportunities for scaffolders are good due to:

  • the 2016 Health and Safety at Work Act, which means that most multi-floor building work is likely to need scaffolding to ensure workers' safety
  • high turnover of new trainee scaffolders because of the very demanding physical work. Over 60% of scaffolders are under 35.
  • a construction boom, particularly in Auckland, that is predicted to be worth $42 billion, peaking in 2020
  • building work needed to upgrade leaky homes, earthquake-prone buildings and other structures, such as bridges
  • the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquake rebuilds, which are predicted to continue at the current rate until 2019, then taper off to 2022.

There are 1,100 scaffolders working in New Zealand, but there are not enough to meet the demand for their services.

As a result, scaffolder appears on Immigration New Zealand's immediate skill shortage list and Immigration New Zealand's construction and infrastructure skill shortage list. This means the Government is actively encouraging skilled scaffolders from overseas to work in New Zealand.

Long-term outlook best for highly qualified scaffolders who can travel for work

Like many building jobs, this role can be affected by economic conditions. A downturn in the economy can lower demand for scaffolders, especially those with fewer qualifications.

You can increase your chances of regular work by:

  • doing further training and completing the New Zealand Certificate in Scaffolding (Level 5)
  • being prepared to travel to heavy industry sites during their maintenance sessions, when demand for temporary scaffolders is high
  • having a heavy vehicle licence.

Scaffolders needed in oil and gas industry

Scaffolders are also needed for work on power stations and offshore oil and gas platforms, such as Marsden Point and Taranaki's Maui gas field.

Most scaffolders work for private companies

Scaffolders mainly work for private scaffolding companies. These range from businesses with just a few workers to nationwide companies that employ hundreds of staff.

Sources

  • BRANZ and Pacifecon, 'National Construction Pipeline Report 2017, 5th Edition', July 2017, (www.mbie.govt.nz).
  • Burke, G, chief executive officer, Scaffolding, Access & Rigging New Zealand, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, January 2018.
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Construction and Infrastructure Skill Shortage List', 17 December 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Immigration New Zealand, 'Immediate Skill Shortage List', 25 June 2018, (www.immigration.govt.nz).
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Scaffolders may progress to set up their own scaffolding business or move into scaffolding team leader or management roles, or construction management roles. 

Scaffolders with a New Zealand Certificate in Scaffolding (Level 5) can move into civil engineering work.

A man using a tool to tighten up a piece of scaffolding

Scaffolders design and erect scaffolding structures

Last updated 6 December 2019