In the “rope access industry” we often get the same questions from newcomers, such as “How can I get into this exciting industry?” or “Where do I get training and what kind of training do I need?”.
A long time ago, I asked a good friend of mine to help someone out who was new to our industry and he pointed out the following:
- You have to be able to move around the country, or go offshore at short notice.
- You have to be able to deal with work instability at the start, until you are established on the rope access scene.
- The work you are doing is contract work, is fairly physical, and can at times be boring. As well, some clients can be difficult to work with.
- The more qualifications you get, the more possibilities of work become available. Also think about rigging, offshore survival, medicals, first aid and various NDT qualifications. It is expensive but it is important to get as many qualifications as possible. Some companies will (partly) cover costs for qualifications needed for the job, and your training time.
- If you jump between companies a lot then you get a reputation for being unreliable and only looking for the highest wages and you get into the “hire and fire” system which is not good long term.
- A 2-year contract may turn into a 2-month contract if the client cuts the budget, so you can never entirely rely on long term stability. Having said that, there are some companies that have contracts in oil refineries and on offshore platforms that last a considerable amount time.
- The best way to start in rope access work is to base yourself in a hub like Houston, Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, NY, Toronto. A hub is generally easy to travel to and from and there is a reasonable amount of local work, both in the onshore side and petro-chemical industry. Once you have obtained your L3 (takes about 3 years), and have acquired additional relevant qualifications, staying in more remote places to suit your lifestyle becomes a possibility. Companies are usually willing to pay for travel and local costs if you are experienced, can run teams and can rig well. There are also opportunities for project managers, without formal degrees, especially if you are good at organizing teams and jobs.
- It will be difficult to get any decent amount of rope access work as a shift worker in the local area, so it would take a long time to get the experience necessary to move up the ladder.
- We know many training companies and often they are very good. Some rope access companies tend to be quite conservative about employees and training (we generally tend to train our own) and as long as the training companies train technicians the same way as your target employer I don’t see any problems with compatibility. If the training method is not compatible it can take some time on rope to become familiar with the system used.
Hope this clarifies some questions for those new to ‘our’ industry.