Glazier

The Job and What's Involved

Glaziers are skilled people who cut glass and other window materials, such as plastics (eg uPVC), and fix them in place. They need a lot of knowledge of glazing materials to choose and fit the right material for the particular job.

The work includes fitting:

  • Double-glazed units into people's homes.
  • Large security plate glass in shop fronts.
  • Glass roofs in industrial buildings.
  • Fire-resistant glazing for internal doors.
  • Windows with speak holes and bulletproof security glazing in banks.
  • Replacement windscreens in cars.

Glaziers measure, select, cut, install, and remove and replace all types of glass, as well as glass substitutes such as plastics, marble and granite. They can specialise in one area of work, such as making stained glass and ornamental windows, or use their skills for a range of jobs.

They need to:

  • Plan the work using drawings, measurements and written instructions.
  • Install glass in new buildings, replacing broken glass if required.
  • Know the uses of different types of glass and how to cut, trim and edge, using special cutting tools.
  • Fit glass using different fixing methods, such as applying sealant or caulk.

Glaziers may also mount steel or aluminium sashes or frames and attach locks and hinges to glass doors. They may install items such as heavy, decorative room dividers, build metal framework, and install glass panels or curtain walls.

Working with glass requires a great deal of safety awareness. The job requires special equipment such as glass-holding hand tools with suction cups and handheld special diamond tip cutting tools. Glaziers may also use power tools like diamond blade grinders and saws.

The working week is usually 37.5 hours, Monday to Friday, but times may vary to make the most of daylight hours or to avoid disrupting business. Glass gets broken at all times of the day or night, so glaziers may work in the evenings or at weekends.

They work both indoors and outdoors, sometimes in bad weather. On sites where construction work is in progress, it can be dirty or noisy, and glaziers may need to wear protective clothing such as gloves and hard hats. Much of their work is done at height, and they may use ladders, scaffolding and suspended cradles to reach the area where they are working.

Glaziers may need to travel from site to site, working on a project and then moving on to the next one. This can mean working away from home for short or long periods.

Newly-qualified employed glaziers may earn around £14,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Due to various factors, such as urban regeneration projects and major projects like the Olympics, the construction industry is enjoying a period of growth, and the demand for skilled glaziers is increasing.

Glaziers work for:

  • Firms that sell, cut and install glass.
  • Construction companies.
  • Local authorities.
  • Shopfitting companies.
  • Smaller companies, carrying out a wide range of tasks.
  • Medium-sized businesses with a team of glaziers.
  • Large companies, specialising in one area such as greenhouse construction, glass roofing, or other aspects of glazing such as emergency repairs.

Glaziers who work in windscreen replacement are usually employed by a specialist company offering windscreen services, often in conjunction with vehicle insurance organisations.

The vast majority of glaziers are self-employed.

Vacancies are advertised in the local press and through Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus offices. It may be best for school leavers to approach employers direct, and if possible arrange some work experience before leaving school. Some of the larger companies have their own in-house Apprenticeship scheme.

Education and Training

There are no specific entry requirements to train as a glazier, but GCSE's/S grades (A-C/1-3) in maths, English and technology may be helpful for the calculations, measurements and theory.

It is possible to find work in the glass industry straight from school and train on the job. Employers often offer a three-month probationary period.

Glaziers learn the trade through an Apprenticeship or traineeship which usually lasts between two to three years. Entry to an Apprenticeship scheme usually involves an aptitude test and a selection interview with a potential employer. The Sector Skills Council, Proskills, are currently promoting government-sponsored Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Trainees and apprentices can work towards NVQ's/SVQ's in a glass-related area. They may study for qualifications such as:

  • NVQ's/SVQ's Levels 2 and 3 in Glazing Installation and Maintenance.
  • NVQ's/SVQ's Levels 2 and 3 in Automotive Glazing.
  • NVQ's/SVQ's Levels 2 and 3 in Fenestration Installation and Surveying.

'Learning for All' is a scheme promoted by Glass Training Limited (GTL). Companies set up their own flexible learning programmes called 'Learning Pathways' in the workplace. Under this scheme NVQ's/SVQ's can be delivered through distance learning programmes.

Apprentices and trainees can study a range of occupations including glass manufacturing, glass processing, fenestration and installation, fabrication, administration, customer service, engineering, supervision and management.

A list of training providers/colleges approved to deliver glass-related NVQ's/SVQ's is available on the GTL website at www.glass-training.co.uk.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Glaziers should:

  • Be practical, with good hand skills.
  • Be able to calculate quantities and measure carefully when cutting.
  • Be safety conscious, as glass can be fragile and hazardous.
  • Be able to follow drawings, plans and written or spoken instructions.
  • Have the patience to prepare materials properly.
  • Be reasonably fit, with the strength to carry tools and materials.
  • Be able to work at heights.
  • Be pleasant and polite to customers.
  • Have the ability to work in a team as well as alone.
  • Have a creative approach to colour and shape if they work with stained glass.

Your Long Term Prospects

Many glaziers move onto supervisory roles, and some go on to own their own business. Self-employment is popular.

Some find work abroad, on contracts.

Get Further Information

CITB-ConstructionSkills, Bircham Newton Training Centre,
Bircham Newton, King's Lynn, Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577
Websites: www.bconstructive.co.uk and
www.citb-constructionskills.co.uk/careers

The Glass and Glazing Federation,
44-48 Borough High Street, London SE1 1XB
Tel: 0870 042 4255
Website: www.ggf.co.uk

Glass Training Limited (GTL), Suite 28, The Quadrant,
99 Parkway Avenue, Parkway Business Park, Sheffield S9 4WG
Tel: 0114 227 0070
Website: www.glass-training.co.uk

Proskills, Centurion Court,
85b Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxfordshire OX14 4 RY
Tel: 01235 833844
Website: www.proskills.co.uk

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