Should I get into Rope Access?
You may have been introduced to rope access through a friend, colleague, or aquaintance at a party, climbing gym, or ski lift. Or, you may have seen someone on a job site hanging on ropes, which seemed way more invigorating than your task at hand. The idea of hanging on ropes as a career sounds enticing! Especially if it's a job that caters to adventure, travel, and stimulation. It almost sounds too good to be true. Is it?Yes, it is. Nothing is easy in life and although the lifestyle sounds great, it'll take some hard work, grit, and time to create a career in rope access that works for you. Below, we have a simple checklist to give you an idea of whether or not you should get into rope access. This checklist will also lay out some expectations for what it's like being a rope access technician.
1) Am I scared of heights?
2) Do I have other skills or trade certifications?
3) Will I freak out if I don't have a steady paycheque?
4) Am I willing to work in remote areas, out of town, and/or live in work camps?
5) Am I willing to do manual labour work outdoors in wet or cold conditions?
6) Do I work well in a team?
7) Can I think quickly on my feet, adapt, and be flexible?
8) Am I good at looking the bigger picture?
If you answered yes to 85% of the questions, then a career in rope access might be for you! Here's some more info into each question of this checklist.
Am I scared of heights?
You might assume that the answer should be no. But, it's probably better to have a small dose of fear of heights. With fear comes respect. And respect keeps you and your team safe when you're hanging 300 ft above ground.
Do I have other skills and/or trade certifications?
Okay, so you pass your L1 course and become a rope access technician. Now what? What work will you accomplish on rope? The rope access certification lives in the same section of your resume as your first aid. It doesn't give you an automatic advantage compared to everyone else with the same certification. You're going to need to bring value in other ways. Do you have a trade? Do you have the work experience needed by the Employers you want to work for? Rope access training is just the beginning not the end. It should be a part of your overall plan and not the only thing.
Will I freak out if I don't have a steady paycheque?
It's rare that you'll find a full time rope access job right away. You can expect to be working job to job, company to company. Even if you were offered a 3 month stint; in two weeks, you could be let go because of various reasons that are not under your control or have anything to do with your work ethic. Either there are delays on site, the client decided to reschedule, or the weather makes it unsafe to work. Whatever it is, be prepared to have zero work for an undetermined amount of time. It's feast or famine.
Am I willing to work in remote areas, out of town, and/or live in work camps?
When you're just at your last package of Ichiban noodles, you get an opportunity for work. Hallelujah! But wait, it's in the middle of nowhere, there won't be internet, and you'll have to be away from home, family, and friends for a determined or undetermined amount of time. Taking this job may mean missing a birthday, anniversary, camping trip, or wedding. Along the same token, is it easy for you to drop everything and mobilize for a job within 1-2 days? Are there responsibilities in your life that may prevent you from saying yes to a job at a drop of a dime?
Am I willing to do manual labour work outdoors in wet or cold conditions?
Rope access work is rarely clean. You tend to work in dirty environments and sometimes in grungy outdoor environments. Depending on the type of work and location, you may be required to continue work even if it's rainy and cold. Can you endure?
Do I work well in a team?
Rope access is all about team work. You need each other to stay safe and to have each other's backs when the work gets hard to handle (ex. The top of the 10th hour for a 12 hour shift in rainy weather). The rope access team is also structured so that there is at least 1-2 L3 Supervisors managing everyone. Not only do you need to communicate well but you need to listen to each other as well. Along the same line, your team members are relying on you to do you job so that they can do their jobs. If you were honest with yourself, are you a "get-er" done type of person or sit around the wait? If your team can't trust you to do your part, you won't be getting called back for many jobs.
Can I think quickly on my feet, adapt, and be flexible?
There are aspects of this job that are consistent and reliable but there are also a lot of instances where things can change quickly. Problems will arise and other factors may come into play last minute. Are you able to adapt quickly? Or do you freeze up and falter?
Am I good at looking at the bigger picture?
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in the details. Or you're so focused on the task at hand, you forget to see how your role fits into the bigger picture. This relates to the previous question because if you can keep a good idea of the bigger picture, it'll make it easier to adapt and be flexible.
Ready to jump into rope access? Click on the link below to download our pdf on How to get Started in Rope Access!