What You Need to Know
- Thermal insulation engineers boast unique skills and fit and maintain insulation around all sorts of boilers and pipes
- You will usually work a standard 40-hour week, but you may have to work overtime if a project demands it
- The work can be physically demanding, though satisfying if you take pride in a job well done
- There are no formal qualifications needed to become a thermal insulation engineer, though will nearly always need relevant experience
- A good way of getting into this business is through an Apprenticeship, giving you the chance to earn as you learn your trade
- The Insulation and Environmental Training Agency (IETA) also offers a range of short-term courses
- Salaries for thermal insulation engineers range from £16,000 to £30,000 a year
What Do Thermal Insulation Engineers Do?
Thermal insulation engineers fit and maintain insulation around all sorts of boilers and pipes. In this job you could find yourself working in people’s homes, in commercial premises or even in industry, for example in a factory or on an oil rig.
For the most part, you can expect to work a standard 40-hour week. However, if a project demands it, you may need to work overtime and a significant amount of travel could be necessary. As a thermal insulation engineer, your duties may include:
- Drawing up plans to properly insulate pipes, boilers and other heating equipment
- Working with other engineers and labourers to ensure that plans are accurately followed
- Measuring and cutting insulating materials and then fitting it
- Ensuring work is carried out on time and within a fixed budget
This type of work can be physically demanding, though you do get the satisfaction of working as part of a team on various projects, with this often leading to great job satisfaction.
Skills and Qualifications
There are no formal qualifications needed to become a thermal insulation engineer. In fact, many engineers get into this line of work using experience gained in other jobs, such as air conditioning insulators or even construction labourers. If you do have some relevant professional experience, then you could apply to local employers to see if they would be willing to take you on as a trainee engineer.
Alternatively, you can get into this line of work through an Apprenticeship. The Insulation and Environmental Training Agency (IETA) is a good source of information about Apprenticeships, with their website giving a good oversight of what the job involves and how to get a trainee position. Meanwhile, the official Apprenticeships website lets you look for local employers who may be taking on new trainees.
Generally speaking, you will need to have a handful of good GCSEs to get a place on an Apprenticeship scheme, with some employers especially keen to see good maths and technology skills.
Training and Career Development
Once you have started working as a thermal insulation engineer, there are a number of ways you can boost your career prospects and your rate of pay. For starters, you should consider getting a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) Card. This will enable you to work on nearly all construction sites in the UK; without a CSCS Card, you may struggle to get work on a building site.
At the same time, the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) (http://www.citb.co.uk/) offers a wide range of short courses, many of which may make you more attractive to employers or allow you to charge more as a freelancer. Courses include working safely at height and working with hazardous substances such as asbestos.
Pay and Benefits
As a thermal insulation engineer, your pay will depend on how much experience you have. For example, as an apprentice, you will probably earn between £10,000 and £16,000 a year, depending on who you are working for and how far along in your training you are.
Once you have a few years’ experience under your belt, you can expect your annual pay to rise to around £20,000, though if you take on a senior role in a company, you could get paid as much as £30,000 a year, particularly if you get allowances for hitting deadlines and working away from home.
Aside from the pay, benefits of working as a thermal insulation engineer include being able to work with your hands, working as part of a small team and taking on a steady stream of new challenges in a range of new environments.
As a trainee engineer, your pay rates will always be relatively low and it may take a few years before you are earning a decent wage. Other possible downsides include the fact that working conditions may often be uncomfortable or even hazardous. Some jobs may require working at height, in cramped and dusty conditions and sometimes with hazardous substances such as asbestos, though you will always be required to follow strict health and safety guidelines.
With both businesses and homeowners increasingly keen to save money on their bills by making their heating more efficient, opportunities for skilled and experienced thermal insulation engineers are on the rise.
The best place to start your search is the JobcentrePlus website (https://www.gov.uk/jobsearch). Here you will be able to search through hundreds of jobs, including positions in your local area.
At the same time, it’s well worth getting in employers directly and asking if they have any openings. A simple web search for local insulation firms will point you in the right direction.
Find out more about working in the heating and insulation industry at the website of the Thermal Insulation Contractors Association (http://www.tica-acad.co.uk/)