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How to Become a Rope Access Technician

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If you have a head for heights and love to work outdoors then a career as a rope access technician may be for you. As you're reading this, you probably already know what the role entails and are keen to get started, but in order to work as a rope access technician you must first obtain the correct qualifications.

The most common route for starting a career in rope access is to gain qualifications through the International Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA), although other bodies exist worldwide.

What Are The Different Qualification Levels?

There are three levels of qualifications in the IRATA rope access training which you can take on a progressing basis. 

Level one allows individuals to work as an operator, meaning you can use existing rigging under the supervision of a person qualified at level three. After obtaining that qualification, you can progress to level two. Here you are permitted to set up rigging and carry out colleague rescues. Lastly, level three enables you to supervise personnel and allocate jobs. It also gives you the skills needed to carry out any stage rescues and teaches you about necessary regulation.

What Does Rope Access Training Involve?

The training for each level lasts for four days and is conducted on a practical basis. This means you will not spend the time sitting at a desk looking at graphs, but instead will be learning through taking part in exercises. Time is of the essence so it is important to treat each exercise seriously. In reality, you will only get the chance to perfect even the most complex of exercises a handful of times so you need to give it your all. Before the final day there will be a period for you to consolidate your learning. You should use this time wisely to brush up on any areas where you feel improvement is necessary. An assessor will arrive on the fifth day. They will be looking for evidence of safe working practices and team work. Part of their assessment will involve asking you questions on manoeuvres. 

After this, they will look at your technique. At this stage two minor discrepancies are allowed, but a third will result in failure. Minor discrepancies include things like having a lax back-up device positioning. Level ones will be asked to carry out exercises that are not included in the training. This is not to catch you out but rather to see how you perform when faced with unique issues. Unlike a driving test, the assessor will not allow you to continue if you have failed. They will stop the exercise immediately. So, if they remain silent, continue as normal and do not allow minor errors to bother you. You will be asked to look for faults on a harness so it is important to practice this procedure prior to the assessment.

What Will You Be Assessed on During Rope Access Level One?

1) Safe working systems and assessing of risk.
2) Safe practices.
3) Anchor systems.
4) Personal protective equipment and usage.
5) Basic rescues and correct care.
6) Understanding of how IRATA works.
7) Rope system rigging.
8) Fitting of equipment.
9) Manoeuvers, including; descent, ascent, rope changing, work seats, deviation, edge transitions and rope protection.
10) Work position systems and fall arrest.

Once you've successfully completed your training, your next task is to look for a rope access job. The market is competitive, but the rewards are plentiful and your new skills can take you anywhere in the world leading to a unique and fun career.

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