Mastic asphalters lay mastic asphalt on to a range of surfaces and structures to waterproof, protect and strengthen them.
Mastic asphalt (a mix of limestone and bitumen) becomes liquid when heated up, enabling it to be poured and spread, but forms a hard waterproof coating when it cools. It can be modified by manufacturers for different kinds of work by adding polymers and/or colouring pigments. Mastic asphalt is seamless and is used for all sorts of applications where waterproofing and durability are vital. These include:
Mastic asphalters usually work with contractors. They visit the site of the proposed work to make sure it is suitable for asphalting. After inspecting and measuring the area, they calculate what is needed to do the job, and arrange for the materials and equipment to be delivered to the site. On small jobs, the mastic asphalt is usually supplied in solid block form to be melted on site. On large jobs, mastic asphalt may be supplied at the right temperature by the manufacturer using a 'hot charge' transporter.
Mastic asphalters use a variety of hand tools for laying, together with mobile boilers, mixers, buckets, LPG cylinders and application units for hot sealants. They often work at heights, in enclosed spaces, and in other specialist environments, and need to be aware of various health and safety factors associated with their work. Once a job is finished, they have to remove and dispose of all waste in an appropriate manner and await a final inspection.
Mastic asphalters usually work from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Overtime may sometimes be required on particular projects, including evenings and weekends.
The work is usually outdoors, sometimes in areas that are difficult to access. There is some risk of fumes and accidental burns. The work may be unsuitable for people who suffer from claustrophobia, vertigo or breathing problems.
When working with asphalt, protective clothing such as face masks, overalls, gloves, eye protection and knee pads are worn.
Asphalters are likely to travel quite extensively between different worksites and projects, and may occasionally have to work away from home for periods of time.
Apprentice mastic asphalters may start on around £10,000 a year. Mastic asphalters are paid travelling expenses and overtime. Bonuses may also be paid.
Most of the work is carried out by specialist mastic asphalt contractors. The mastic asphalt industry has a well-established craft trade, with employment opportunities throughout the UK.
Self-employment is common, and asphalters may also work on a labour-only basis for a contractor, with all tools and materials supplied.
A list of approved contractors is available on the Mastic Asphalt Council website at www.masticasphaltcouncil.co.uk. Vacancies may also be advertised in Jobcentre Plus offices, Connexions centres and local newspapers.
There are no specific entry requirements for a career as a mastic asphalter, although GCSE's/S grades in English, maths, and design and technology, or equivalent vocational qualifications, may be helpful.
Vocational qualifications in construction are available in some schools and colleges. They provide an introduction to the construction sector and a foundation for further training. They include:
Young people generally enter the mastic asphalt industry as apprentices and may need to take an aptitude test before entry. In England and Wales, there is a three-year Construction Apprenticeship scheme run by ConstructionSkills in association with the Mastic Asphalt Council.
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.
Training involves a combination of block-release training at an approved college or training centre, alongside on-the-job experience. This leads to NVQ's/SVQ's Levels 2 and 3 in Mastic Asphalting.
Mastic asphalters working on construction sites need to have a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. This is used in the construction industry to show that the card holder has been trained in health and safety, and is competent in a particular occupation (usually requiring an appropriate NVQ/SVQ, or the equivalent) or is working towards becoming competent.
The Institute of Roofing offers its own qualifications, as well as help and advice on developing skills within the industry.
Oil Drilling Roustabouts and Roughnecks work as part of a small team on offshore oil or gas drilling rigs or production platforms. Roustabouts do unskilled manual labouring jobs on rigs and platforms, and Roughneck is a promotion from roustabout.
Roustabouts do basic tasks to help keep the rig and platform working efficiently and Roughnecks do practical tasks involved in the drilling operation, under the supervision of the driller.
Mastic asphalters need to be:
There are prospects for promotion to supervisory and managerial roles. With higher-level qualifications it may be possible to become a trainer or instructor.
Mastic asphalters may have to move employers to gain experience in different areas of work, or to obtain promotion.
Many mastic asphalters become self-employed. It may also be possible to find contract work abroad.
Construction Apprenticeship Scheme Helpline
Tel: 0870 417 7274
ConstructionSkills Certification Scheme (CSCS),
PO Box 114, Bircham Newton,
King's Lynn PE31 6XD
Tel: 0870 417 8777
Institute of Roofing,
20 Sedbury Road, North Sompting, West Sussex BN15 0LL
Tel: 020 7448 3858
Mastic Asphalt Council,
PO Box 77, Hastings TN35 4WL
Tel: 01424 814400
Scottish Building Apprenticeship
and Training Council (SBATC),
Carron Grange, Carrongrange Avenue,
Stenhousemuir FK5 3BQ
Tel: 01324 555550
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.