How to become a Rope Access Technician
Rope Access Certification
A career in rope access offers many different opportunities. It’s a great career for those with a head for heights and those who love to work in the great outdoors often in remote locations.
The role encompasses a wide range of different skills and duties vary significantly depending on your experience and qualifications. For example, rope access incorporates jobs such as welding, plating, blare repair, painting and repair work, as well as inspection jobs such as coating surveys, safety inspection and quality control. All of these roles can be on land or offshore based but with one thing in common, they’re classified as being highly skilled!
If you’re considering becoming a rope access technician offshore, you’ve certainly landed in the right place. We’ve created a helpful guide outlining everything you need to know about kick starting your career.
Getting the right qualifications
First and foremost, you should be aware that any career in rope access requires the correct qualifications. There are three main levels of qualifications in the IRATA training and certification scheme. These qualifications will provide you with an IRATA license so you can become a fully-fledged industrial rope access technician.
And, because you can progress through different levels, including a IRATA level 1 refresher course, IRATA level 2 training, IRATA level 3 training, and IRATA Rope Access Manager Rope Access Safety Supervisor training (RAMRASS), you can progress at a pace that works for you but typically serving at least 12 months between each grade and documenting at least 1000 rope hours.
Rope Access Certification
Each level reflects your skillset and experience. For example, at level one, you will work as an operator and use existing rigging, providing you are under the supervision of a person qualified at level three.
Once you’ve passed this qualification, you can then progress to level two, where you will learn how to set up rigging and even carry out colleague rescues. Finally, once you’ve completed rope access level 2, you can then progress to rope access level 3 where you will allocate jobs and supervise personnel onsite or within a team.
So, what does training entail?
All rope access training will provide you with the practical skills you need to progress in a career. You will learn through participating in practical exercises that will provide you with the skills, knowledge and expertise you need to gain a first-hand insight into the job role and what life is like working at height.
You will also be assessed at the end of your course on your technique and you will also be asked a number of different questions on manoeuvres.
What will you be assessed on during your rope access level 1?
If you are ready to kick start your career in rope access, this is what you can expect to cover during your rope access level 1! This should give you an idea of whether this is the right career path for you.
The rope access level 1 course covers:
· Safe working systems and assessing of risk.
· Safe practices.
· Anchor systems.
· Understanding of how IRATA works.
· Personal protective equipment and usage.
· Basic rescues and correct care.
· Rope system rigging.
· Fitting of equipment.
· Manoeuvres, including; descent, ascent, rope changing, work seats, deviation, edge transitions and rope protection.
· Work position systems and fall arrest.
This will give you the skills you need to embark on your new career.
How Much Does a Rope Access Technician Earn?
Learning the Ropes – how to stay safe when working at height
Rope Access is an industry that requires technicians to work safely at height or access difficult to reach places, fast. Requiring extensive training, rope access encompasses a wide range of different techniques that can be adapted to meet the needs of industrial, construction and maintenance requirements, across a diverse range of different sectors and industries.
And, if you are thinking about becoming as fully-fledged rope access technician, it’s highly likely that safety may have already crossed your mind! The good news is, this is an industry that takes safety incredibly seriously and, throughout your industrial rope access training, as a IRATA level 1, IRATA level 2 and IRATA level 3, you will cover all safety measures and precautions imaginable to ensure you’re always on top of your game at height.
So, what is involved in rope access safety?
A rope access technician’s job involves everything from rigging off a roof, through to abseiling the leg of an oil rig or wind turbine jacket, above water. The role is definitely not for the faint hearted, especially if you are afraid of heights, as it will be your job to safely reach inaccessible places that are a far cry from the everyday routine maintenance of buildings or other structures.
In order to reach these heights safely and securely, you will usually be asked to enter through a roof hatch or from another rigging area where a rope access specialist can rig the dual lines from.
The ‘Working at Height Regulations 2005’ also state that: “every employer shall ensure that work at height is properly planned; appropriately supervised, and carried out in a manner which is so far as is reasonably practicable safe”.
With this in mind, if you are looking to embark on a career in rope access, it is essential that you are trained to the highest standard and that you are provided with suitable equipment, protection and fully understand all emergency evacuation and rescue procedures you may encounter.
IRATA approved rope access
Rope access workers are highly trained professionals and in order to acquire the skills, knowledge and experience you need to carry out your role safely and effectively, you will need to undergo IRATA training at an IRATA approved training centre.
The vast majority of technicians and companies will register with IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) because IRATA is the sole global trade association in the work at height sector and is widely recognised in all corners of the world.Is a career in rope access for me?
Like any career, a job in rope access isn’t for everyone and, if you’re considering becoming a professional, fully fledged rope access technician, it’s important that you fully understand what the role entails so you can decide whether or not it’s the best career option for you.
After all, the role of a rope access technician incorporates a wide range of different duties and different levels of qualifications are required depending on the job role you want. And of course, working at extreme heights definitely isn’t for everyone and it’s certainly not your average environment.
To help you decide whether this is the right career move for you, we’ve weighed up the pros and cons of becoming a rope access technician.
Pros and cons
As with any job there are pros and cons to life as a rope access technician and although the job is financially lucrative and exciting, hours can be long and it can often mean a lot of time away from home, and outside the UK.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of a career in rope access.
A lot of rope access technicians chose their career due to the opportunity to experience new places, often in all corners of the world. Travel comes hand in hand with this career and although some locations can seem glamorous, many are off the beaten track or require remote working.
Rates and salaries
Rates and salaries vary significantly depending on your industry experience, level of expertise, duties and the company that you work for. All technicians start at Level 1 and work their way up! At the top of your career as a level 3 rope access technician, you could be earning as much as £78,000! Dangle is of course an Living Wage Scotland member also.
Rope Access Courses
If you do decide that this career is right for you, you will then need to get the right qualification and skills to kick start your journey as a professional rope access technician, in a field of interest, like blade repair or industrial painting etc. Qualification involves completing dedicated working at height training courses via IRATA, the governing body of the rope access industry.
There are three different rope access technician courses, IRATA Level 1, IRATA Level 2 and IRATA Level 3. All have been created to allow rope access technicians with the training, skills, and knowledge required to carry out manoeuvres and rescue procedures in line with stringent industry and safety requirements required for the level you wish to be assessed at.
What are the different types of jobs?
When it comes to exploring job roles in Rope Access, there are many different opportunities. An exciting career that requires skill and mandatory qualifications, you will be surprised at the varied job roles that involve rope access.
So, what exactly does a job look like?
To embark on any rope access role, extensive training is required and all rope access technicians are expected to gain a variety of skill sets and qualifications.
The vast majority of technicians and companies will register with IRATA, which is the world renowned Industrial Rope Access Trade Association. And, as IRATA is the sole global trade association in the work at height sector, it leads the way when it comes to providing the highest standard of training.
These qualifications are gained by completing standardised training courses at varying levels (IRATA Level 1, IRATA Level 2, IRATA Level 3) which cover everything from rope access manoeuvres and equipment inspections right through to rescue procedures and safety regulations.
Let’s take a look at some of the fields of work you could enter once you have your qualifications:
Rope access job roles are commonly associated with many offshore industries, and due to the stringent safety requirements and limited working space, offshore rope access technicians are required to undergo extensive training, including but not limited to Sea Survivial, Firefighting, Manual Handling, First Aid, Helicopter Underwater escape training etc.
There is always a high demand for rope access work on oil rigs and offshore platforms and duties include everything from inspection and maintenance jobs right through to Construction and commissioning jobs.
If you’re looking for adventure in your job, rope access in Geotechnical industries is definitely for you! Typically positioned up on cliffs, along steep roadsides, deep within caves or other unreachable natural structures, rope access work in this industry will generally take you to all corners of the world. Main roles include stabilising structures, preventing rock falls and helping to prevent mass erosion.
You will also find that there are a lot of exciting job opportunities on land too involving working on man-made structures such as bridges, radio masts, bridges or dams. These opportunities can also take you all over the world. Tasks include cleaning, updating and the repair of a variety of different structures.
Again, this is a field of work that has become synonymous with rope access jobs on wind farms, power stations and utility poles. Rope access technicians play a crucial role in the surveillance and safe upkeep of all aspects of energy industries as a core key worker your service here will be highly valued in keeping the planet moving.
Earning potential of rope access technician?
For those considering a career in Rope Access, one of the first questions often asked is: “How much does a rope access technician earn?”
But truth is, salaries vary significantly across the industry, depending on experience, qualifications, location and the level of risk involved in the job you are doing. Rope access is a highly skilled career and encompasses a wide range of different duties including a number of different maintenance and inspection jobs.
For example, maintenance jobs include rust removal, painting, repair work and welding whereas inspection jobs include quality control, safety inspection and coating surveys.
So, how much does a rope access technician earn?
The average Rope Access Technician salary in United Kingdom is £54,600 per year, however this may change slightly depending on the company you work for and the location. The vast majority of entry level positions start at £31,200 per year, with that rising as you gain in experience.
In the UK, an experienced Level 3 Rope Access Technician can expect to earn as much as £78,000 per year.
Different training levels
To reach the top of your game and hit a £78,000 salary, you will have to undergo an minimum of three levels of training – Rope Access Level 1, Rope Access Level 2 and Rope Access Level 3.
These courses are designed to provide aspiring rope access technicians with the training, skills, and knowledge required to carry out manoeuvres and rescue procedures in line with stringent industry and safety requirements often referred to as ICOP and TACS. Each course varies based on the level of skill needed to progress in your career and all courses run for five days, with an assessment at the end.
Across the industry, you will find that rope access technicians that have vast experience, additional skills and top qualifications will earn far more than other colleagues working in the trade. With this in mind, it’s certainly worthwhile getting the qualifications you need.
There’s also a high amount of overtime available, which is ideal for boosting your wage, although be prepared to work in excess of 12 hours a day.
How do I get IRATA certified?
If you are looking to get IRATA certified, you will have to complete a four/five-day minimum rope access training course from an IRATA Training Member Company and managed by an IRATA Level three Instructor.
Here at Dangle, we provide a variety of professional comprehensive inspection, access, coatings, and composite (IACC) industrial services. These professional services are available to both the private and public sectors as well.
We offer high-quality proven solutions that will help reduce maintenance costs in both the long and short-term. We are based in Dundee, Scotland but also have an office based in Preston, England as well.
To find out more about how our team can help you contact us today. Our friendly, professional and helpful team is always on hand to help.
To connect with other professionals in this industry, please visit our rope access group and forum here.