Also known as pipework laggers, thermal insulation engineers work to increase the safety and function of industrial air-conditioning equipment and systems. They use suitable insulating materials to coat or cover pipes, boilers, and ductwork. If you have an aptitude for practical work, this is a job that can suit you.
1. What Do Thermal Insulation Engineers Do?
Their duties include:
- Reading and interpreting building blueprints to determine the flow of air-conditioning systems and equipment
- Determining the type of insulating material to use on various pipes or boilers
- Cleaning the pipes or boilers to ready them for insulation – this may involve removing hazardous substances such as asbestos
- Measuring and cutting insulating materials to sizes that fit the surfaces to be insulated
- Using cement, adhesives or clips to fix the insulating materials
- Using machine blowers to fill up cavity spaces between ceilings, floors or walls.
2. Work Environment
Thermal insulation engineers work for 40 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Sometimes they may work overtime to complete projects with tight timelines.
At work, these engineers can spend time in confined spaces that may also be dusty, hot or airy. Working on scaffolding or at heights is also a typical characteristic of this job.
The job calls for extensive travel, since these engineers visit and work on sites in various locations. This means you may spend some time away from your family.
According to the National Careers Service, apprentices earn between £10,000 and £16,000 annually. Qualified engineers make between £17,000 and £24,000, while the experienced ones make up to £30,000.
4. Entry Requirements
To become a thermal insulation engineer, apply to join a construction apprenticeship program that enables you to specialize in thermal insulation. If you are between 16 and 23, the program will take you four years to complete. To enter the program, you will need a few GCSEs (grade C and above) typically in English, math, science and design or technology.
If you are 24 or older, and you have some construction experience, you will need to join an adult apprentice program, which will take you three years to complete.
After completing apprenticeship training, pursue Level 2 and 3 (NVQ) Diplomas in Thermal Insulation to increase you knowledge of access platform dismantling, insulating material application, and fabricating and fitting protective cladding.
Some employers may also consider people without any apprenticeship or professional training as long as they possess substantial experience working with air-conditioning systems.
5. Important Qualities
- Excellent practical skills
- Strong basic blueprint reading skills
- Good eye-hand coordination
- A good level of physical fitness
- A head for heights
- Good problem-solving skills
- The ability to work in confined spaces
- The willingness to travel
- Good teamwork skills
- Good numeracy and math skills
- An awareness of occupational health and safety issues
6. Career Development
Once you are hired as a thermal insulation engineer, focus on developing your skills on the job.
You can also pursue the Thermal Insulation Contractors Association’s PASMA Work at Height and PASMA Low Level Access Training short courses to learn more about enhancing workplace safety.
Finally, obtain an Experienced Worker card (or any other card that fits your professional description) from the Construction Skills Certification Scheme to prove your skills to building contractors. The specific requirements for obtaining a card depends on the type of card you want.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of thermal insulation engineers include:
- Building contractors
- Power stations
- Ship companies
With vast experience and more training, you could advance to become a site safety officer, foreperson or contracts manager. It is also possible to move to heating and ventilation engineering or another closely related profession.
Although the National Careers Service forecasts a decline in the availability of jobs for most professionals in the manufacturing industry, aspiring thermal insulation engineers can expect to have good job prospects, since many businesses will need to maintain compliance with energy efficiency regulations.
So, if you want to help businesses save energy, then you should become a thermal insulation engineer.