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Become An Industrial Insulator

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Working As An Industrial Insulator

  • Getting Information
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others
  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $77,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Industrial Insulator Do

Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings and their mechanical systems to help control and maintain the temperatures in buildings. These workers are often referred to as insulators.

Duties

Insulation workers typically do the following:

  • Remove old insulation and dispose of it properly
  • Read blueprints and specifications to determine the requirements of the job
  • Determine the amount and type of insulation needed
  • Measure and cut insulation to fit into walls and around pipes
  • Fasten insulation in place with staples, tape, or screws
  • Use compressors to spray insulation into some spaces
  • Install plastic barriers to protect insulation from moisture
  • Follow safety guidelines

Properly insulated buildings save energy by keeping heat in during the winter and out in the summer. Insulated vats, vessels, boilers, steampipes, and hot-water pipes also prevent the wasteful loss of heat or cold and prevent burns. In addition, insulation helps reduce noise that passes through walls and ceilings.

When renovating old buildings, insulators often must remove the old insulation. In the past, asbestos—now known to cause cancer—was used extensively to insulate walls, ceilings, pipes, and industrial equipment. Because of this danger, hazardous materials removal workers or specially trained insulators are required to remove asbestos before workers can begin installation.

Insulation workers use common hand tools, such as knives and scissors. They also may use a variety of power tools, including power saws to cut insulating materials, welders to secure clamps, and staple guns to fasten insulation to walls. Some insulators use compressors to spray insulation.

Workers sometimes wrap a cover of aluminum, sheet metal, or vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) over the insulation. Doing so protects the insulation from contact damage and keeps moisture out.

Floor, ceiling, and wall insulators install insulation in attics, under floors, and behind walls in homes and other buildings. Most of these workers unroll, cut, fit, and staple batts of fiberglass insulation between wall studs and ceiling joists. Some workers, however, spray foam insulation with a compressor hose into the space being filled.

Mechanical insulators apply insulation to equipment, pipes, or ductwork in businesses, factories, and many other types of buildings. When insulating a steampipe, for example, they consider the temperature, thickness, and diameter of the pipe in determining the type of insulation to be used.

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How To Become An Industrial Insulator

Most floor, ceiling, and wall insulation workers learn their trade on the job since no formal education is typically required. Most mechanical insulation workers complete an apprenticeship program after earning a high school diploma or equivalent.

Education

There are no specific education requirements for floor, ceiling, and wall insulation workers. Mechanical insulation workers should have a high school diploma. High school courses in basic math, woodworking, mechanical drawing, algebra, and general science are considered helpful for all insulation workers.

Training

Most floor, ceiling, and wall insulation workers learn their trade on the job. New workers are provided basic instruction on installation and begin to place insulation immediately. Insulators who install blown or sprayed insulation will work alongside more experienced workers to learn how to operate equipment before being tasked with leading a spray installation job.

Most mechanical insulation workers learn their trade through a 4-year apprenticeship. Some apprenticeships may last up to 5 years, depending on the program. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must have at least 1,700 to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of related technical instruction. Technical instruction includes learning about installation techniques as well as basic mathematics, how to read and draw blueprints, general construction techniques, safety practices, and first aid.

Unions and individual contractors offer apprenticeship programs. Although most new workers start out by entering apprenticeships directly, others begin by working as helpers. Some apprenticeship programs have preferred entry for veterans. The basic qualifications required for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Being 18 years old
  • Being physically able to do the work
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Insulation workers who remove and handle asbestos must be trained through a program accredited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Insulation contractor organizations offer voluntary certification to help workers prove their skills and knowledge of residential and industrial insulation.

The National Insulation Association also offers a certification for mechanical insulators who conduct energy appraisals to determine if and how insulation can benefit industrial customers.

Important Qualities

Dexterity. Insulation workers must be able to work in confined spaces while maintaining coordination and control of tools and materials. Also, insulators often must reach above their heads to fit and fasten insulation into place.

Math Skills. Mechanical insulators need to measure the size of the equipment or pipe they are insulating. This is especially important when insulation is formed off site so that additional cuts are unnecessary.

Mechanical skills. Insulation workers use a variety of hand and power tools to install insulation. Those who apply foam insulation, for example, must be able to operate and maintain a compressor and sprayer to spread the foam onto walls or across attics.

Physical stamina. Insulators may spend up to 12 hours a day standing, reaching, and bending. Workers should be able to stay physically active without getting tired.

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Top Skills for An Industrial Insulator

  1. Mechanical Equipment
  2. Repair Insulation
  3. Tape Measure
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Apply, remove, and repair insulation on industrial equipment such as valves, pipes and vessels at Dupont-Dow in Reserve.
  • Measured and cut insulation for covering surfaces, using tape measures, handsaws, knives, and scissors.
  • Removed old insulation such as asbestos, following safety procedures.
  • Developed a solid knowledge of an extensive array of tools, hardware and insulation materials.
  • Assisted Journeyman Insulators to install insulation

Industrial Insulator Demographics

Gender

Male

80.4%

Unknown

12.9%

Female

6.7%
Ethnicity

White

57.3%

Hispanic or Latino

22.7%

Black or African American

12.3%

Asian

5.2%

Unknown

2.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

100.0%

Industrial Insulator Education

Schools

Richland Community College

10.3%

Lamar University

10.3%

Lamar Institute of Technology

6.9%

Kirkwood Community College

6.9%

Delgado Community College

6.9%

Tulsa Welding School

6.9%

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

6.9%

Tri-County Technical College

3.4%

Montana State University - Bozeman

3.4%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

3.4%

ARCLabs

3.4%

Victoria College

3.4%

West Virginia State University

3.4%

University of Northern Iowa

3.4%

Tennessee State University

3.4%

Everest Institute

3.4%

Hamilton Technical College

3.4%

Lincoln Technical Institute

3.4%

Technical College of the Lowcountry

3.4%

Kankakee Community College

3.4%
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Majors

Precision Metal Working

10.1%

Business

10.1%

General Studies

8.7%

History

7.2%

Fire Science And Protection

5.8%

Industrial Technology

5.8%

Heating And Air Conditioning

5.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

5.8%

Criminal Justice

5.8%

Electrical Engineering Technology

4.3%

Construction Management

4.3%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.9%

Drafting And Design

2.9%

Accounting

2.9%

Finance

2.9%

Fine Arts

2.9%

Computer Science

2.9%

Graphic Design

2.9%

Automotive Technology

2.9%

Nursing

2.9%
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Degrees

Other

42.0%

Bachelors

20.0%

Associate

18.0%

Certificate

13.0%

Masters

3.0%

Diploma

3.0%

License

1.0%
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