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Insulator


Description

Since humans first started to move inside, from the first caves to modern apartments, we have worked to keep ourselves cool in summer, warm in winter and dry in the rain. Over the years we have developed techniques and materials to do just that. Insulators are people who apply insulation materials to walls, floors and ceilings of buildings, piping equipment, and cooling and refrigeration systems. They apply insulation to prevent and reduce the passage of cold, heat, sound or fire.

Insulators need to wear gloves, glasses and masks while applying insulation. They may work a typical 9 to 5 day, or insulators may work some shift work, weekends, or longer hours to complete projects on time. They must be able to interpret drawings and determine the amount and type of insulation needed. Insulators may have to remove hazardous materials such as asbestos or urea-formaldehyde insulation as part of their job.
 
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$17,576
 
Median Salary:
$28,933
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$54,683

  Interests and Skills  
People who work as insulators like to work with their hands. They can read blueprints and determine the amount and type of insulation needed. Insulators are good with the tools of their trade and understand the different types of insulation materials and their uses. They are also able to problem-solve when faced with insulating difficult-to-reach spaces. It is also important that they are able to work well as part of a team under the direction of others.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Read and interpret drawings and specifications to determine insulation requirements and select type of insulation required
  • Measure and cut insulating material to required dimensions using hand and power tools
  • Apply and secure insulation using spraying, blowing, pasting, strapping, taping and other application and installation methods
  • Fit insulation around obstructions and between studs and joists
  • Install vapor barriers
  • Brush waterproofing cement over insulating materials to finish surfaces
  • Remove asbestos or urea-formaldehyde insulation from buildings when required
  • An insulator will work at many different job sites from private homes to apartment complexes and business offices depending on the project they are working on. They will interpret specifications and amount and type of insulation needed. If required they will first remove outdated and old insulation such as asbestos. Insulators work in dirty and dusty environments due to the materials they are using and/or removing.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Insulators are employed by construction companies and insulation contractors or they may be self-employed.

  Long Term Career Potential  
With experience and insulators can move into supervisory or management positions within their field in the construction industry.
 

  Educational Paths  
Insulators receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become an insulator, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the insulator a certificate of completion.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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