How to become a scaffolder in the UK

Whether a project is working on a house extension, fixing a damaged roof or setting up a stand at a sporting event, the job is guaranteed to require the service of a specialist scaffolder. If you’re interested in entering the construction industry, here’s everything you need to know about the process of becoming a scaffolder.

What does a scaffolder do? 

Scaffolders are vital members of the construction industry and are responsible for assembling scaffolding structures that provide other workers safe access to sites. Their day-to-day duties can vary depending on specific projects but their main tasks include:

  • Creating stable bases for scaffolding
  • Putting up scaffolding poles 
  • Fixing scaffolding, guard rails and safety nets to buildings
  • Laying planks for workers to access buildings
  • Dismantling scaffolding once projects are completed

Scaffolders work from considerably dangerous heights and continue working in harsh weather conditions, therefore workers must take extra precaution to reduce their risks of accidents, especially during winter. 

How long does it take to become a qualified scaffolder?

It usually takes around three years to become a fully qualified scaffolder. You’ll need to complete a training course with an accredited provider, receive a CISRS trainee scaffolder card and gain some work experience before becoming fully qualified. 

What qualifications are required to become a scaffolder?

To become a scaffolder, you’ll need to complete Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) training for trainee scaffolders. This is the industry-recognised training scheme, which you can complete through an accredited centre or training provider. 

During this course, you’ll complete a number of assessments to show your understanding and develop the skills needed to become a qualified scaffolder. Undertaking this training course also enables you to receive a CISRS scaffolder card. 

If you’re interested in becoming an advanced scaffolder, you’ll need to complete a CISRS advanced course with further exams and training requirements. 

How can you become a scaffolder?

There are several routes you can take to become a scaffolder. These include options for individuals at every level of experience. 

College or training courses 

For those looking to enter the industry straight out of school, you may consider studying for a level 1 certificate in construction skills or a level 2 certificate in construction operations at college. These courses are great for beginners and can set you up for a trainee position within a construction company once your studies are completed. 

Colleges generally have set entry requirements for their courses. To enter for a level 1 certificate in construction skills, you’ll typically need 2 or fewer GCSES of at least grades 3-1 (D-G) or equivalent. If you’d like to study a level 2 certificate in construction operations, the entry requirements are usually 2 or more GCSEs of at least grades 9 to 3 (A*-D) or equivalent. 


An apprenticeship combines studying with hands-on-experience. Some companies offer intermediate level scaffolder apprenticeships where you’ll be fully employed and expected to work 30 hours per week. This time is split between on-the-job training and further studies. These apprenticeships typically last for 18 months.

Work experience 

Work experience can be a great way to gain first-hand experience to add to your CV before applying for construction jobs. You can gain experience during school, or by volunteering to work weekends with local companies or relatives who work in scaffolding. 

You can also directly apply for scaffolding trainee roles and get qualified on the job. This will require a construction industry scaffolders record scheme (CISRS) safety card or equivalent.

What skills does a scaffolder need? 

There’s various skills that would be beneficial when applying for a role as a scaffolder. You may have picked up transferable skills from other roles or experiences that may be useful in scaffolding roles. Other desirable skills revolve around practical abilities and existing construction knowledge that may improve job applications. 

Skills that are required/preferred include: 

  • Confident working with heights
  • Good level of physical fitness
  • Excellent hand-eye coordination
  • Operation and control of equipment
  • Knowledge of building and construction 
  • Awareness of health and safety
  • Good written and verbal communication 
  • An understanding of technical drawings and plans
  • Ability to work in teams 
  • A drivers licence is preferred as you may be required to travel from site to site.

How much do scaffolders earn? 

The salary of a scaffolder depends on their level of experience. Newly trained scaffolders may have a starting salary anywhere in-between £12,500-£25,000, depending on qualifications and the company they work for. Senior scaffolders are likely to earn anything from £33,000 and above. 

Are there any career progression opportunities within scaffolding? 

A career in scaffolding doesn’t have to stop at the scaffolding level. With experience and expertise, there is room to progress into senior roles including supervisor, scaffolding designer, site safety inspector and construction manager. With further training, it’s possible to branch out into other areas of the construction sector.

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