How to Advance (Advancement)
Voluntary certification programs have been developed by insulation contractor organizations to help workers prove their skills and knowledge of residential and industrial insulation. The National Insulation Association also offers a certification in performing an energy appraisal to determine if and how insulation can benefit industrial customers.
Skilled insulation workers may advance to supervisor, shop superintendent, or insulation contract estimator, or they may set up their own insulation business.
For those who would like to advance, it is increasingly important to be able to relay instructions and safety precautions to workers in both English and Spanish because Spanish-speaking workers make up a large part of the construction workforce in many areas.
Insulation workers held about 57,300 jobs in 2008. About 92 percent were employed in the construction industry, with 50 percent working for drywall and insulation contractors. In less populated areas, plumbers and pipefitters, carpenters, heating and air-conditioning installers, or drywall installers may do insulation work.
Insulation workers should have excellent opportunities due to faster than average job growth, coupled with the need to replace many workers who leave this occupation.
Employment of insulation workers is expected to increase 17 percent during the 2008-18 decade, faster than the average for all occupations. Demand for insulation workers will be spurred by the need to make existing buildings more energy efficient, as well as to the anticipated construction of new power plants—a big user of piping and equipment. Modest increases in the housing stock over the decade will also generate jobs for insulation workers.
Job opportunities for insulation workers are expected to be excellent. In addition to opportunities created by growth, job openings will arise from the need to replace workers who retire or leave the labor force for other reasons. The irritating nature of many insulation materials, combined with the often difficult working conditions, causes many insulation workers to leave the occupation each year.
Insulation workers in the construction industry may experience periods of unemployment because of the short duration of many construction projects and the cyclical nature of construction activity. However, as the occupation focuses more and more on weatherization, energy efficiency, and green house gas reduction, the occupation should become more protected against such cyclical ups and downs in construction overall. Workers employed to perform industrial plant maintenance generally have more stable employment because maintenance and repair must be done continually.
In May 2008, median hourly wages of wage and salary insulation workers, floor, ceiling, and wall, were $15.34. The middle 50 percent earned between $12.04 and $19.64. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $9.61, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.53. Median hourly wages of insulation workers, mechanical, were $17.95. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.01 and $24.58. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.46, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $32.82.
Union workers tend to earn more than nonunion workers. Apprentices start at about one-half of the journey worker's wage. Insulation workers doing commercial and industrial work earn substantially more than those working in residential construction, which does not require as much skill.
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