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Scaffolding Work and Scaffold Training in BC

Are you interested in scaffolding jobs in Vancouver or elsewhere in BC? Find out more about one of the most in-demand trades in Canada, including where to get scaffolding training in BC and what kind of scaffolding work is available through the Carpenters Union.

What is Scaffolding?

Scaffolding work is integral to many construction projects and involves building temporary but structurally sound work platforms that allow other members of the skilled trades to complete their work safely, often providing access to otherwise hard-to-reach places.

Any task that takes more than 15 minutes requires a scaffold. Without scaffolding, craftspeople like pipe fitters and millwrights would not be able to do their jobs safely or effectively. Scaffolding work is needed for the entire duration of any project, which is why it is one of the most in-demand trades in Canada, including BC.

Types of Scaffolding

Tube and Clamp Scaffolding

This type of scaffolding consists of various sizes and lengths of tubes, which are typically steel or aluminum. Tube and clamp scaffolding uses right-angle clamps with bolt- or wedge-fastening devices; swivel clamps with bolts or wedge fastening devices; beam clamps; and end-to-end connectors. This is a universal type of scaffolding that can be used in many areas of construction either by itself or together with system scaffolding.

System Scaffolding

A system scaffold is made of manufactured components designed to be attached at a predetermined location. System scaffold connection points are specialized connections, patented uniquely by each manufacturer. These types of scaffolds are mostly used in industrial settings, such as refineries, power plants, paper mills, and cement plants.

Welded-frame Scaffolding

Welded-frame scaffolding is made from prefabricated welded sections. A welded-frame scaffold consists of legs/standards and horizontal bearers/transoms, with internal bracing and intermediate cross-bracing between frames. These types of scaffolds are predominantly used in commercial and residential construction projects.

Wood-Pole Scaffolding

Made entirely of wood, wood-pole scaffolding can be fastened with either nails, bolts, or screws. While wood-pole scaffolds are still used in some areas, they should be erected by a UBC member specifically trained in the construction and assembly of wood-pole scaffolds. Wood-pole scaffolds are commonly used as supported or structure-supported scaffolds.

Manually Propelled Mobile Scaffolds

Also called a rolling scaffold, a manually propelled mobile scaffold has casters as its main support for the legs/standards in place of screw jacks, which are used to adjust and level the scaffold. The purpose of casters is to create a scaffold that can be moved as needed. Any scaffold, with the exception of wood-pole scaffolds, can be adapted to become a manually propelled scaffold.

The decision of which one to use often comes down to availability and preference; however, in BC you’ll most likely either use tube and clamp or a PERI system.

Types of Scaffolding Jobs Available in BC

Scaffolding work available through our signatory contractors in BC are primarily in the commercial and industrial sectors. Once you are a journeyperson scaffolder, you can work on any type of project and easily move between the commercial and industrial sectors, as the skillset is the same.

Industrial Scaffolding Work

Industrial scaffolding projects involve building work platforms for large industrial plants and infrastructure projects, such as refineries, power plants, paper mills, and cement plants.

Due to the hazardous nature of these projects and the expertise required, wages are higher in the industrial sector. These projects are usually in remote locations and are more likely to have the potential for overtime.

Commercial Scaffolding Work

This type of scaffolding involves building work platforms for commercial buildings, including residential buildings that have commercial main floors. Given the type of building, this means that commercial scaffolding jobs are usually in cities.

Scaffold Training in BC

Scaffolding has historically been unregulated compared to other skilled trades and is still not recognized as a Red Seal Trade. However, the industry is becoming more standardized, and an increasing number of employers are requesting proof of training.

The British Columbia Regional Council of Carpenters (BCRCC) offers the best scaffolding training in BC. We have two state-of-the-art training centres: one in the Lower Mainland in Delta and the other in Prince George. During training, you will learn different scaffolding types, starting with the tube and clamp, as this is the basis for other systems.

Scaffold Training for People New to the Skilled Trades

You may have heard that scaffolding is one of the best trades in BC because there is plenty of work available. To receive the excellent scaffolding training at the BCRCC, you’ll need to become a member, after which all the training required to be able to work on-site is covered by the union.

To become a journeyperson scaffolder, you must complete a four-year apprenticeship. Each year consists of two levels and includes a combination of theory and work hours on a job site. The apprenticeship culminates in a written exam as well as a practical build exam. After passing these exams, you receive a journeyperson ticket. Although this is not recognized as a Red Seal trade, our tickets are accepted everywhere due to our reputation for excellent training.

Scaffolding Training for Experienced Scaffolders Seeking a Ticket or Union Scaffolding Jobs

If you already have experience with scaffolding or carpentry and are interested in further training or a union scaffold job, you may not need to start from square one. Our reps assess each person on a case-by-case basis to determine what level of training is required. Some things the union will consider are:

  • Work experience in scaffolding or carpentry
  • A ticket from a different union 
  • A ticket from a non-union organization
  • A record of employment that shows how many hours you have logged working in other relevant trades

Many scaffolders have been working in the industry for several years and have gained valuable experience on the job without having any formal training (because none was available). In this case, we offer a journeyperson upgrader program – a condensed version of our scaffolding apprenticeship program. This course will help scaffolders prepare to take the tests required to achieve their journeyperson certification. (Note that 7800 work hours are also required to become certified via the journeyperson upgrader program).

We welcome journeyperson carpenters who want to also become journeyperson scaffolders. There is an overlap between these skilled trades; so the process of getting ticketed is usually faster than it is for people who are completely new to scaffolding. You may be able to put some of your carpentry apprenticeship experience towards your scaffolding apprenticeship.

Why Take Scaffold Training with the BCRCC?

Whether you’re an experienced scaffolder interested in union scaffolding jobs or are starting from scratch as someone who wants to do scaffold training, there are significant benefits to becoming a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC). Scaffolding is becoming more standardized every day, and the BCRCC offers the gold standard of training. Here are some reasons to join our union:

  • From the moment you sign up, all the training required to get you working on a job site is covered by the union
  • The BCRCC provides the longest and most in-depth scaffold training in BC
  • Our training programs place a huge emphasis on safety
  • Our courses involve both classroom time and practical building so that you are learning theory and applying it to real situations on each day of your training
  • While doing your apprenticeship, you get a raise every six months until you reach journeyperson level – no need to switch employers to get a raise
  • Our scaffolding ticket is highly respected and accepted everywhere
  • Enjoy greater job security and higher wages as a journeyperson scaffolder

Career Advancement Training for a Scaffolder in BC

Part of how we offer careers in construction rather than just construction jobs is through our career-advancement training. In addition to safety training, equipment training, and specialized skills training, we offer programs at UBC’s International Training Center in Las Vegas that take our members’ careers to the next level. Beginning in the third year of apprenticeship, members are offered courses to develop:

  • Leadership skills
  • Relationship management and conflict-resolution skills
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy skills
  • Self-awareness skills

…and more! 

These skills help you become a more effective scaffolder and job site leader by enhancing your ability to integrate into a team, communicate effectively, and contribute to a healthy, productive job site culture. This not only reduces costly staff turnover but also helps contractors succeed and bid on more projects, thus providing more work for our members.

Join Us and Find Scaffolding Jobs in BC

Current openings

Have a look at our job board to get an idea of current scaffolding jobs available through our contractors.

See the Latest BCRCC News

See the latest news and browse resources for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the trades.

Have Your Questions Answered

Do you have questions about how to join, what dues are involved, and what else the Union can do for you?

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