Trade Profile — Scaffolding
/ Author: Kari-Anne March
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Trade Profile — Scaffolding

Learn what it takes to be a scaffolder

Over the next ten years, it is estimated that over 261,100 tradespeople will retire in Canada, while only 221,300 will enter the field, resulting in a significant loss of skilled workers. In addition, due to the aging population, the overall number of people who are considered to be in their working prime (age 25-54) is expected to decline. These factors will make it increasingly difficult to replenish the retiring workforce.

In response to the anticipated shortage of skilled apprentices, the construction industry has developed several initiatives, opportunities, and grants to encourage youth, women, the indigenous population, and other groups to consider a career in the skilled trades. Alongside various partners, CLAC has become increasingly involved in promoting the skilled trades as a rewarding career option, while simultaneously looking for new ways to support industry and workers alike.

Over the next year, we will share a variety of trades-related blogs here on Your Voice. We will highlight in-demand trades by providing you with a snap shot of their education requirements, average salary, and employment outlook.


This month’s highlighted trade is scaffolding.

Scaffolders play a critical role in the construction industry. They are often the first on and the last off the job site and work in almost all sectors of the construction industry, including residential, commercial, industrial, and maintenance.

Scaffolders assemble platforms and metal tubes to build temporary structures for working above the ground. They construct various types of scaffold structures, including frame, system and tube, and coupler scaffolds. They must become skilled in weight load math, advanced blueprint reading, and inspection techniques. Scaffolding is a great career for those interested in becoming a dual-ticketed tradesperson, particularly when combined with apprentice or journeyperson status as an insulator or carpenter.

CLAC represents various contractors who employ scaffolders. Journeyperson wages can range on average from $30 to $39 per hour (in Alberta), plus additional benefits.

So how do you become a scaffolder? Scaffolding is not technically a compulsory or regulated trade in Canada. Traditionally, scaffolders were able to work without any formal classroom training and were only trained on the job. Once a job was completed, scaffolders would collect a letter from their employer stating how many hours they had worked in the trade and took it with them to their next employer. By looking at their history of hours, their new employer could then deem them competent to work at the appropriate scaffold “apprenticeship” level (about 1,600 hours per level).

However, as the trade continues to grow, more site owners and employers are expecting their scaffolders to participate in theoretical and practical training to remain compliant with CSA-Z797 and occupational health and safety regulations. CLAC Training offers one of the largest scaffolder training programs in Alberta through the Scaffold and Access Industry Association (SAIA). Through this partnership, we provide new and current scaffolders with apprenticeship-style scaffolder training and scaffolder certification that is recognized throughout North America.

Similar to the apprenticeship system, scaffolders are able to complete each level of the industry-recognized SAIA scaffolder training program once they have met the work requirement of 1,600 hours per level. Current scaffolders who wish to participate in the training can supply proof of their current hours and challenge each exam, or new scaffolders can challenge each exam as they meet the on-the-job hours requirement.

For more information on how to get started in scaffolding or how to certify your existing scaffold career in Alberta, visit or contact 888-700-7555 or   


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