Window Installer

The Job and What's Involved

Window installers fit new or replacement windows and doors in houses, offices, factories and schools.

They usually work in teams of two or more people. They make sure that the new windows fit the space available, enlarging or reducing the space if necessary. If existing windows have to be removed, they take them out using hand and power tools.

They then insert the new windows, fixing them in place, and making them weatherproof, level and secure. Finally, once the new windows are in place, the installers remove all debris and rubbish and make good any plaster, damaged wood or masonry.

The windows may be single - or double-glazed units, or secondary glazing fitted inside existing windows. Single-glazed windows are also used for repairs and for some historic buildings. The windows may be in stock sizes or made to measure.

The work may also involve fitting conservatories, replacement doors and weatherboarding.

Very skilled window installers repair and replace windows in old buildings, including cathedrals and churches, where skilled artistic work is required.

New glass technologies and frame design have led to a number of specialist jobs:

Fire resistant glazing - requires specialist knowledge and skills to ensure the windows doors and frames perform to provide a fire-resistant barrier, allowing escape from buildings during a fire.

Film applicators - have specialised skills and knowledge which allow them to apply fine films to glass for privacy, security and safety reasons. Bullet-resistant glass is made in this way, building up glass sheets bonded together with polyvinyl butyral or polyurethane.

Window installers generally work 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday. Overtime may be available.

They work indoors and outdoors in most weather conditions. There may be some seasonal variation in the work and most firms are busiest in the warmer, drier summer months.

The work can involve working at heights, using ladders and scaffolding, and some heavy lifting.

Window installers have to drive vans loaded with windows, ladders and equipment, so a full UK driving licence is an advantage, although with two persons in a team quite often they can work successfully with only one driver.

Newly-qualified window installers may earn around £14,000 a year. Window installers are normally paid according to nationally-recommended industry rates. They may earn significantly more with overtime and shift allowances, which can vary depending on the individual employer.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Window installers work throughout the UK and most companies are based in towns and cities. Companies vary in size from large national firms to small companies employing a limited number of people.

The window installation industry is now enjoying a period of growth. There is currently a demand for conservatories and for new and modern double glazing in homes, in part because of the environmental advantages of double glazing in prevention of heat loss. The availability of government grants for replacement windows in older buildings is also a big factor in the growth of this industry.

Vacancies are advertised in local papers, through Connexions/careers centres and Jobcentre Plus offices. It may be best for school leavers to approach employers direct and, if possible, do some work experience before leaving school.

Education and Training

There are no specific entry requirements to train as a window installer, but GCSE's (A*- C) in maths, English and technology, may be helpful. The Diploma in construction and the built environment may be relevant for this area of work.

The most common entry route is to find work straight from school as an apprentice and train on the job. Entry to an Apprenticeship scheme usually involves an aptitude test. The Sector Skills Council, Proskills, is currently promoting government-sponsored glass industry 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.

All applicants need to be fit enough to cope with the physical demands of the job.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Employers provide initial training that covers removing and fitting window frames, health and safety, customer relations and dealing with relevant paperwork. Entrants then work under the supervision of experienced window installers before being allowed to work in a two-man team.

Trainees and apprentices may work towards NVQ's at Levels 2 and 3 in fenestration installation and surveying. NVQ's Levels 2 and 3 in glazing installation and maintenance are also available. Training normally takes between two and three years and can involve a combination of learning practical skills on the job and attending college or a training centre to gain NVQ's.

'Learning for All' is a scheme promoted by Glass Training Limited (GTL). Companies set up their own flexible learning programme's called 'Learning Pathways' in the workplace. These individual development programme's include NVQ's, which can be delivered through distance learning. There is a list of training providers and colleges approved to deliver glass-related NVQ's on the GTL website.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Window installers should:

  • Be safety conscious as glass can be fragile and hazardous.
  • Be practical, with good hand skills.
  • Be physically fit, with the strength to carry tools and materials.
  • Be able to work at heights.
  • Have good customer service skills.
  • Be able to measure and make calculations.
  • Be able to work well on their own, or as part of a small team.

Your Long Term Prospects

Many window installers move into supervisory roles and some go on to start their own business. Self-employment is popular and franchises may be available.

Experienced window installers may be able to become window surveyors or estimators, visiting customers' premises, measuring up and making quotations for new windows.

Get Further Information

CITB-ConstructionSkills,
Bircham Newton Training Centre,
Bircham Newton, King's Lynn,
Norfolk PE31 6RH
Tel: 0808 100 0055
Websites: www.bconstructive.co.uk
and www.citb-constructionskills.co.uk/careers

Construction Apprenticeship Scheme Helpline:
Tel: 0870 4172274

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
and the careers site at www.prospect4u.co.uk

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