Introduction to the Rope Access Industry
As America’s leading rope access training provider, Ropeworks fields regular inquiries about how to start a career in the rope access industry. On this page we’ve provided some general information to help answer many of these questions.
Many recreational rock climbers, mountain guides, cavers and fire rescue professionals are drawn to rope access work. While these types of activities certainly help foster aptitude for rope access techniques, these skills do not translate exactly to industrial rope access work. Consequently, it is important for aspiring technicians to begin their rope access careers by getting certified by a rope access certification body. There are currently two such bodies: SPRAT (the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians) and IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association—also known as IRATA International). Gaining certification can be accomplished by attending a rope access training course and certification session provided by a training company.Both SPRAT and IRATA certification schemes are based on a multilevel system; level 1, level 2 and level 3. Specific information on the certification requirements can be found on our SPRAT and IRATA information pages as well as on their respective websites, www.sprat.org and www.irata.org.
Rope access techniques are often paired with other trade skills such as welding, fiberglass inspection and repair, structure inspection and non-destructive testing (NDT). Rope access provides the means to perform these skills on difficult to reach locations on towers, dams, bridges, vessels, buildings and other structures—on and offshore.
The rope access industry is growing quickly; as is the pool of certified rope access technicians. Finding an avenue into the industry can be competitive, especially for those that aren't bringing additional industry trade skills to the table. There are, however, various entry-level positions available. Some of these include highrise window and wind turbine tower cleaning. Patience and tenacity are often required to find an initial opportunity.
Currently, there is not a job placement service for rope access technicians. Newly certified technicians can find a list of rope access companies on both the SPRAT and IRATA websites. There are also job openings posted occasionally at www.rigg-access.com.
Rope access technicians can generally expect to earn somewhere between $20 - $40 per hour, and will likely start near the bottom of this range unless bringing prior experience from other relevant industries. As is the case with most skill-based industries, a rope access technician becomes more valuable as they work their way to level 2 and level 3. A level 3 is considered a Rope Access Supervisor and has the skills and knowledge to run complex rope access projects.