Insulators apply, remove and repair thermal and acoustical insulation (e.g. calcium silicate, glass foam, mineral wool, styrofoam, fibreglass) on all types of industrial equipment (e.g. duct piping, heat exchangers, tanks, vessels).
In general, insulators:
- read and interpret drawings and specifications to determine insulation requirements
- select the amount and type of insulation to be installed as well as a method of securing the insulation (e.g., spraying, pinwelding, wiring, pasting, strapping, taping) according to the type and shape of surface, whether or not the equipment is cold or hot, inside or outside, and what the equipment is going to be used for
- measure and cut insulating material and coverings to the required shape and dimension
- fit insulation around obstructions or shape insulation materials and protective coverings
- install vapour barriers and finish insulated surfaces by applying metal cladding, canvas, plastic sheeting or cement
- remove or seal off old asbestos insulation.
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Insulators work both indoors and outdoors, often in uncomfortable or potentially hazardous circumstances: in very hot or cold settings, on ladders or scaffolding, in cramped areas, with materials that are dusty, itchy or toxic. They must observe safety precautions and use equipment such as respirators, coveralls and safety glasses/goggles.
Insulators usually work a 40-hour, five-day week but may work 40 hours in four days. Some overtime may be required to meet construction deadlines. Those employed in the maintenance of industrial plants may work shifts.
The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy doing tasks precisely. It is also an occupation for people who prefer stability and security.
To be successful in their trade, insulators must have:
- manual dexterity
- the strength, stamina and ability to use proper lifting techniques to lift items weighing up to 25 kilograms
- the agility required to work in cramped spaces
- the ability to work at heights and in hot and cold environments.
Insulators are employed by construction companies, insulation contractors and industrial plant. This occupation is subject to business cycle swings which can lead to periodic high levels of unemployment.
Journeyperson wage rates are competitive with other trades in similar industry sectors, but generally range from $30 to $42 an hour, plus benefits.
Insulators may advance to supervisory positions such as foreman, general foreman or superintendent. They may also advance to estimator positions. Estimators review blueprints for proposed work, determine how much material will be needed and how long the work will take.
To work as an insulator in Alberta, a person must:
- be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential , OR
- work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
- be self-employed
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for an insulator is 3 years (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1517 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training each year.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the insulator trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application. For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a Insulator in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice insulators earn at least 50 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 60 percent in the second, and 70 percent in the third.
- complete all program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for insulator apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.
Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training.
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.
An insulator who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.