Insulators (NOC 7293)

About this job

Insulators apply insulation materials to plumbing, air-handling, heating, cooling and refrigeration systems, piping equipment and pressure vessels, and walls, floors and ceilings of buildings and other structures, to prevent or reduce the passage of heat, cold, sound or fire.

People in these occupations:

  • may specialize in areas such as industrial insulation, fire insulation or sound insulation, while others alternate between commercial and residential, and between blown insulation and batting
  • work for construction companies and insulation contractors
  • work in Manufacturing and other industries, but in a smaller number
  • may be self-employed
  • should be comfortable working at heights and in cramped spaces
  • need to pay close attention to detail when cutting and fitting insulation
  • must keep their skills and techniques up to date in order to adapt to new insulation materials, building codes and energy efficiency guidelines
Common job titles
  • applicator, insulation / foamed insulation
  • installer, soundproof material-insulation
  • insulator, asbestos
  • insulator, journeyman / journeywoman
  • insulator, refrigeration and a / c equipment
  • mechanic, insulation
  • applicator, insulation / foamed insulation
  • installer, soundproof material-insulation
  • insulator, asbestos
  • insulator, building / ship / boiler & pipe
  • insulator, fire protection / fire-stopping
  • insulator, journeyman / journeywoman

Earnings

Annual provincial median salary

$62,568

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage data

Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2016 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • High
  • Median
  • Low

Source: 2016 Job Bank Wage Report

Duties

Insulators perform some or all of the following duties:

  • read and interpret drawings and specifications to determine insulation requirements and select type of insulation required
  • measure and cut insulating material to required dimensions using hand and power tools
  • apply and secure insulation using spraying, blowing, pasting, strapping, taping and other application and installation methods
  • fit insulation around obstructions and between studs and joists
  • install vapour barriers
  • apply waterproofing cement over insulating materials to finish surfaces
  • remove asbestos or urea-formaldehyde insulation from buildings when required

Work environment

Insulators typically work a standard 40-hour workweek, however, they may also be required to work longer hours to complete projects on time. Insulating work in the Construction industry is often project based and workers may experience gaps in employment between projects. For the same reason, insulators sometimes travel to where the work is.

Insulators generally work indoors. They often work at heights and in confined spaces. The work environment can be dusty and workers can be exposed to particles of insulation material that can be irritating to the eyes, skin and respiratory system. Workers strictly conform to health and safety procedures to protect themselves from exposure to airborne particles and skin irritants.

Heat and frost insulators who work on large industrial, institutional and commercial construction projects work both indoors and outdoors in all regions of Canada.

Job requirements

Education, training & qualifications

No formal minimum education is required for most insulation contractors in B.C., however, they must have basic reading/writing skills and be able to perform paperwork related duties. While trade certification is not required to be an insulator in B.C., it will likely increase job opportunities.

Requirements for trade certification include:

  • completion of an apprenticeship program (or a combination of several years of work experience and some college or industry courses in insulation)

In addition, many insulators are expected to operate and maintain diesel powered blowing machines and must have a valid driver’s license.

The Industry Training Authority offers a four-year apprenticeship program for insulators specializing in the area of heat and frost insulation. Apprenticeship programs:

  • may begin in secondary school, through entry-level training programs at colleges and technical institutes, or through direct entry to the workplace
  • involve a combination of work experience and technical training
  • require workers to find a sponsor employer who is willing to participate in the program

Interprovincial Standards Red Seal certification is available to insulators through the Industry Training Authority. This allows holders to work in any province or territory. Once individuals pass the final examination of their accredited training program, they will achieve certification and will automatically receive Red Seal qualification.

Insulators with 8,880 hours of documented, directly related work experience can challenge the Interprovincial Red Seal examination. For more information please see the Industry Training Authority website at www.itabc.ca.

As of July 1, 2017 when the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) came into force, you will not need significant additional training, experience, testing or assessment if your qualifications or certificates are recognized by a Canadian regulatory authority. This applies whether you were trained in Canada or internationally. Learn about labour mobility at www.workersmobility.ca. For information about labour mobility and foreign qualifications recognition, contact the B.C. regulator for your occupation.

Skills

  • Manual Dexterity
  • Spatial Perception
  • Detail-Oriented
  • Object-Oriented
  • Motor Coordination
View skills definitions

Education programs in B.C.

The following program areas are related to this occupation:
  • Heavy Mechanical Repair

For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.

Trades training resources

Visit our trades training page at www.workbc.ca/trades to learn about apprenticeship and trades training in B.C.

Select a region to view regional outlook
Vancouver Island / Coast Mainland / Southwest Thompson-Okanagan Kootenay Cariboo Northeast North Coast & Nechako
Cariboo
Employment in 2016:
0
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Kootenay
Employment in 2016:
0
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Mainland / Southwest
Employment in 2016:
780
Average annual employment growth:
0.3%
Expected number of job openings:
190
North Coast & Nechako
Employment in 2016:
0
Average annual employment growth:
N/A
Expected number of job openings:
N/A
Northeast
Employment in 2016:
110
Average annual employment growth:
1.9%
Expected number of job openings:
60
Thompson-Okanagan
Employment in 2016:
120
Average annual employment growth:
2.4%
Expected number of job openings:
70
Vancouver Island / Coast
Employment in 2016:
230
Average annual employment growth:
1.1%
Expected number of job openings:
90

N/A - Data not available

Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook

Insights from industry

Of the opportunities that arise in the coming years, approximately one-half will come from retirements.

Government funding for capital projects has been an important source of construction employment. Major investments are planned and are underway in B.C.'s transportation infrastructure, including ports and airports.

Industry sources report that demand for workers may be higher for those who work mainly in spray foam.

At present, experienced insulators are in relatively short supply, and in general the experienced workforce is approaching retirement age; however, training is provided to those requiring experience.

Career paths and resources

Career paths

New hires often begin by working with the batting and sprayed two part polyurethane foam as well as working on a blowing truck. With experience and additional training, insulators can become insulation estimators.

Progression to supervisory positions, such as crew leader, site foreman, general foreman or project manager is also possible with experience.

Some experienced insulators may also choose to become independent contractors or company owners.

Additional resources