Learn to Be an Insulation Contractor: Education and Career Information

Oct 20, 2021

Research the requirements to become an insulation contractor. Learn about the job duties and read the step-by-step process to start a career in insulation contracting.

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Should I Become an Insulation Contractor?

Insulation contractors install and repair material that maintains the temperature in pipes, ducts, mechanical systems and structures. They are typically subcontractors who work on commercial, residential or industrial projects and coordinate with plumbing, heating and mechanical construction workers.

They read blueprints, select insulation materials and apply them to the appropriate objects in order to protect from heat, cold and moisture. These activities involve significant stamina because they include bending and standing for most of the day in small spaces. Getting into this career requires a high school graduate to complete a 4-year apprenticeship program.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma or equivalent
Certification/Licensure Voluntary certification is available; certification is required for those who work with asbestos; Licensure required by most states
Experience 4-year apprenticeship
Key Skills Dexterity and stamina
Median Salary (2020) $41,327 (for insulation installers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Payscale.com

Steps to Getting into This Career

Now let's check out the specific steps it takes to become an insulation contractor.

Step 1: Complete a High School Education

Employers prefer individuals who have received their high school diploma or an equivalent education. High school courses that can increase knowledge of insulation concepts include woodworking, drafting, algebra, geometry and physics.

Step 2: Complete an Apprenticeship Program

Insulators can learn informally on the job or receive formal training and education by completing an apprenticeship program. Insulation apprenticeships are offered by contractors and unions, such as the partnership of the National Insulation Association (NIA) and the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers. Individuals can also search for apprenticeships registered with the U.S. Department of Labor's regional offices.

Apprenticeships combine classroom education and practical experience supervised by a journeyman insulation worker. Apprentices achieve journeyman status after completing 4-5 years of training and receiving qualifying marks on an examination.

It is also important to purchase your tools. Some apprenticeship programs may require insulation workers to bring their own tools to the job. These tools may include scissors, saws, utility knives, kneepads and flashlights.

Step 3: Earn Licensure

Most states regulate contractors within the construction profession and require insulation contractors to obtain a license. Regulations might limit mandatory licensure to those who work on jobs over a specific cost, provide any public insulation services or provide specific types of insulation services. Typically, no academic requirements exist to obtain licensure, though contractors usually need to pass one or more tests, and some states separate licensure by commercial, industrial and residential projects. Subcontractors might be covered under a general contractor's license for a particular job, though they could need to obtain their own license and insurance.

Step 4: Earn Certification

Insulation workers can enhance opportunities for advancement with specialty training or advanced education. The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) accredits construction degree programs that meet the organization's and industry standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates training for insulators working with asbestos. Training courses are offered by each state and must meet EPA guidelines.

The NIA offers training to become a Certified Insulation Energy Appraiser, a professional who can determine optimal insulation thickness and calculate the corresponding energy cost savings. The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association provides training for fiberglass duct fabrication and installation.

You might also want to consider additional training. In lieu of certification, some organizations also offer training programs that teach students about tools and safety practices used while working.

Continuing education is important for career advancement. Most certification requires re-certification every few years. To maintain certification, insulation workers must complete various tasks, which may include passing another examination, submitting to a work appraisal and paying a fee.

To recap, with the completion of an apprenticeship and possibly licensure, insulation contractors earn about $41,327 a year to install and repair material that maintains the temperature in pipes, ducts, mechanical systems and structures.

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