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Construction, Architecture & Maintenance careers

Demolition, Scaffolding & Steeplejacks

Are demolition, scaffolding, and steeplejacking the same?

These three different areas of construction and maintenance might seem pretty different from each other, but they all actually have things in common. They are all exciting, dramatic, and so very far from your average office job.

Careers in demolition, scaffolding and steeplejacks are like the extreme sports of the construction and maintenance world. In these careers, you could be scaling great heights, knocking down buildings, abseiling or creating explosions. Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it?

Sometimes buildings or structures no longer serve a purpose. They may have become derelict and unused, thus taking up valuable space. Alternatively, they may have become structurally unsound, posing a danger to people.

What do you do if you’re in demolition?

This is when careers in demolition come out swinging. People who work in this area are tasked with tearing down buildings and other structures.

However, these careers are not just about swinging a wrecking ball around, or blowing stuff up willy-nilly. They’re also not about fighting crime in a futuristic world, as the 1993 Sylvester Stallone film, Demolition Man, would have you believe. These jobs are highly-skilled, highly-dangerous and require specially-trained, reliable people whose primary concern is safety.

What do you do if you’re in scaffolding?

Scaffolding is all about providing a safe temporary structure for construction and maintenance workers, so that they can work on elevated parts of buildings and other structures. Scaffolding in most countries is comprised of metal pipes and tubes (unless you work in China, where bamboo is still often used).

To work in this area, you are going to need a strong head for heights, as you might be working right at the top of some very high buildings. Scaffolding can be another dangerous job and so safety is of paramount importance.

What do you do if you’re a steeplejack?

Steeplejacks scale tall buildings, chimneys, towers and church steeples in order to carry out essential maintenance work. These guys use ladders, ropes and equipment akin to that of rock climbers, to get up to the top of cooling towers, bridges, and clock towers etc.

They carry out masonry repairs, do some painting or carpentry, clean windows, or use sandblasting techniques to clean the stone or brickwork.

These guys certainly enjoy good views; and consequently, they also need a good head for heights. Evidently, this is highly-dangerous stuff; and not only do people need to be skilled in construction and maintenance techniques, but also in technical rope work and steeplejack safety.

What are the branches of the demolition sector?

The exciting careers in demolition can incorporate three different ways of knocking down buildings:

  • Non-explosive
  • Implosion
  • Deconstructive.

Non-explosive methods include the use of wrecking balls and hydraulic equipment.

Implosion uses a series of controlled explosions to make a building quickly implode and sink into its own footprint. It can be very quick and effective; however, it can be a dangerous technique, as complications can occur as a result of tiny mistakes or changes in weather. This may cause damage to nearby buildings or even kill unsuspecting onlookers. Consequently, it is treated as a last resort.

Deconstruction is a much newer technique, which is a slower but more environmentally friendly process. Buildings are gradually deconstructed using specialist machinery, so that the materials can be recycled for use in other structures.

What are the required skills for a career in demolition, scaffolding or steeplejacking?

Demolition careers do not only involve active destruction; they also require people to carry out meticulous planning, implement safety policies and communicate with external parties to obtain necessary permits.

Similarly, careers in scaffolding and steeplejacks are not all about monkeying around and climbing up high buildings. They require planning, consideration of safety regulations and specialist skills.

For instance, people who work in scaffolding may need a strong understanding of mathematical and geometrical concepts when planning the construction of specific scaffolding structures.

Likewise, steeplejacks need to plan their activities carefully and have the ability to assess structural stability. Furthermore, these guys need to develop expert knowledge of using specialist apparatus, such as bosun’s chairs, suspended access cradles and abseiling equipment.

In every demolition, scaffolding and steeplejack career, extra specialist training is required. However, no specific academic qualifications are necessary, and many people begin their careers in these areas through on-the-job training and apprenticeships.

Fancy getting into a career in which you can literally shake the foundations of buildings or, alternatively, be on top of the world? If so check out job listings in demolition, scaffolding and steeplejacks.