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Chimney sweep

Chimney sweeps clean the chimneys of open fires, including coal, gas, oil and wood-fired heating systems.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: Variable average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 30 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements but you'll usually need to find an experienced chimney sweep to take you on and train you on the job. Once you complete your training and have some experience, you could set up as self-employed and start your own business.

Experience of practical work may be helpful. You'll need a driving licence as you'll have to transport your equipment between jobs.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • practical skills to use a range of tools and equipment
  • the ability to work at height and climb ladders if necessary
  • organisational skills to plan your own work schedule
  • the ability to cost jobs and negotiate prices

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • inspecting the chimney or flue before cleaning
  • protecting the surrounding area so that soot and debris doesn't escape into a room
  • using brushes on extending rods to clean the chimney or flue
  • removing soot and debris from the fireplace or appliance using an industrial vacuum cleaner
  • advising customers about any potential hazards and faults, and when the chimney or flue will need cleaning again
  • using equipment such as smoke-generating machines and CCTV cameras to examine the condition of chimneys and investigate faults
  • advising customers on the safe operation and maintenance of chimneys, appliances and flues

As a member of the National Association of Chimney Sweeps (NACS), you'd issue a certificate of chimney sweeping after completing your work.

4. Salary

As a self-employed chimney sweep your earnings will vary according to how much work you have and what you can charge.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 8.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday, but may work occasional Saturdays. You may be busier in spring and autumn.

Most of your work will be in private houses, but you could also work on heating systems on industrial or commercial premises.

You'll need to wear a face mask and overalls.

6. Career path and progression

You'll usually be self-employed, although you may also find jobs with private companies like solid fuel distributors.

Membership of NACS, the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps or the Association of Professional and Independent Chimney Sweeps (APICS) will show customers that you're competent and work to strict standards governed by a code of practice.

It may be possible to buy an existing business.

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Last updated: 12 April 2017