Lightning conductor engineers install and maintain lightning conductors and electrical earthing systems on tall buildings and structures.
You could be:
planning the installation of lightning protection and earthing equipment on a variety of tall structures such as church spires and towers, castles, industrial chimneys, power station cooling towers and high rise offices and flats
working on tall structures – erecting access ladders, scaffolding, work platforms and bosun’s seats (harnesses), as well as devices to stop people from falling, to create a safe working environment
climbing up and down the access apparatus while carrying tools and equipment
installing and maintaining lightning protection equipment, working from technical drawings, at great heights
installing earthing systems to protect computers and electronic equipment
earthing military equipment such as aircraft
inspecting structures for damage after storms
doing annual inspections, checking and testing installations
dismantling the access apparatus when the job is complete.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand for the job.
Newly qualified engineers can earn between £15,000 and £25,000 a year. With experience this can rise to £35,000 a year, sometimes more.
You might have to work outdoors in all weathers, including wind and rain, while climbing, balancing and carrying equipment.
You might have to abseil down the sides of tall buildings.
Conditions may be dusty, for example inside an industrial chimney.
You will have to wear protective headgear and other equipment.
You will travel to different sites and you may have periods away from home. Evening and weekend work is common.
The work can be seasonal, with shorter hours and occasional layoffs in winter.
There are no set entry requirements, but English, Maths and science or technological subjects at National 4 or 5 are useful. You need some knowledge of Maths, to study basic electrical theory.
You apply for an apprenticeship through the Construction Industry Training Board's (CITB) BConstructive website.
You must pass an entrance test covering English, maths and problem solving.
You must be physically fit, strong and agile and able to work at heights.
You may also need a driving licence.
Most jobs are with specialist firms of steeplejacks and lightning conductor engineers. There may be a small number of opportunities with construction or civil engineering companies.
What Does it Take?
You need to be:
safety-conscious and have a strong sense of responsibility
able to work well as part of a team
confident with working at heights – this is essential
willing to work outdoors in all weathers
willing to work away from home.
You need to have good:
co-ordination and a good sense of balance
knowledge of health and safety regulations.
You will be sponsored by an employer, and do training organised by ConstructionSkills and the Steeplejack and Lightning Protection Training Group.
Training lasts two years, and combines on the job experience and periods of study, which takes place at the National Construction College in Norfolk. The course also includes first aid, fire fighting and industrial rope access.
You work towards SVQ Accessing Operations and Rigging (Construction): Lightning Conductor Engineer at SCQF Level 5.
Once you have completed an apprenticeship and SVQs, you can apply to upgrade your CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme) trainee card to the next level.
You might undergo training for other certification, such as PASMA (the Prefabricated Access Suppliers' and Manufacturers' Association) for working with scaffold towers.
You will also have to keep up to date with the latest changes in technology and health and safety legislation.
With experience, you may be promoted to a supervisor’s or manager’s post.
You might set up your own business.
You might study for more advanced qualifications, such as a HNC, HND or degree, and move into design or research.
CITB is the Sector Skills Council which covers a wide range of sectors in the development and maintenance of the built environment. Its careers website (bconstructive.co.uk) provides a wide range of information on jobs in the construction industry.