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Insulation contractors keep us dry during thunderstorms, warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Their work is what protects us from the elements whether we're at home or in office buildings. They also decide what type of insulation works best for different projects, remove old insulation and properly install new insulation, even in unusually-shaped spaces. When they do their job properly, buildings not only save energy on heating and cooling, but residents also benefit from noise reduction and safety. (Insulation around hot water pipes prevents burns, for example.) "Every house is different, so you never know what you're walking into," says Jeremy Morton, insulation technician for Orkin, the Atlanta-based pest control company.
Insulation contractors held 28,220 jobs in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). One in four work as drywall and insulation contractors, and only four percent are self-employed. They generally work on insulation in residences or industrial buildings. The work tends to be physically challenging, requiring bending in tight spaces, and it's not for the claustrophobic. The BLS reports that 19,600 jobs will be added to the profession between 2012 and 2022, a growth rate of 37.6 percent.
The median insulation contractor earned $39,170 in 2012, or about $18.83 an hour. The highest-paid earned $75,390 and the lowest-paid earned $25,630 during the same period. The best-paid insulation contractors work in remediation and waste management, the federal executive branch and other specialty trade contractors. The top-paying metropolitan areas include Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Camden, N.J., and Worcester, Mass.
Insulation contractors generally learn through a four- or five-year apprenticeship program that includes up to 2,000 hours of on-the-job training as well as 144 hours of technical training, according to the BLS. Training includes how to read and create blueprints, first aid and safety. A high school degree is usually required of mechanical insulation contractors, while other types do not have any specific degree requirements. Certification in energy appraisal is optional, although insulation contractors that remove asbestos must obtain a certification in asbestos removal from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Morton says he learned the most from on-the-job training. "It comes down to who showed you how to do the work. You can't pick it up reading or even watching a training video," he says. He also notes that people skills are essential to the job, since insulation contractors interact directly with customers. "You need to have a good relationship with every customer. Introduce yourself, talk to them before you go up to the attic – you want customers to feel safe and to believe that you're doing the job to the fullest. If you skip one step, it could cause serious safety risks," he adds.
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Last updated by Kimberly Palmer.