Top 3 Real World Skills for Rope Access

Top 3 Real World Skills for Rope Access

Posted by Sharon Lo on October 24,2023
Sharon Lo

What are the top 3 skills a new rope tech needs in the rope access field?


Often times new technicians will come in for training, and then land their first job shortly after. That is of course why you train, but here at Pacific Ropes, we train for success. Our definition of success, however, is not just about passing assessments, or finding short cuts to make work at height easier the first day out on the field. Success here is doing your job safely, and ensuring you are able to complete your tasks at height without any incidents. 

The question may appear simple, but the responses and opinions I received from our very own Pacific Ropes technicians out in the field, are well thought out, practical, and realistic. 

Success in our operations field is defined as: Technicians performing their tasks safely, meeting project deadlines, and fostering a collaborative and drama-free teamwork environment.


"But wait, what 'real world' skills will actually help me out in the field then?" 


1. Asking Questions/Good Work Ethic

  • Be a sponge. Soak up as much info as possible, and have an open mind. Don't hesitate to ask why things are done the way they are - watch and learn from experienced technicians.

  • Be willing and eager to work hard - don't be the last person so get your gear on, and no complaints on the weather. Your attitude affects your performance, and ultimately your own success. 

  • Be an active participant during safety discussions and meetings - pay attention and STAY OFF PHONES during meetings


2. Basic Knowledge of Tools, Planning, Worksites, and Safety

  • Basic tool use: reading a tape measurer and other measuring instruments, properly drilling holes in metal and concrete, installing anchors in concrete, angle grinder safety and techniques

  • Basic Blueprint and Drawing interpretation: identifying tasks and choosing correct tools and materials, metric/imperial measurement conversions, transferring drawing specs to the real world

  • Basic Job site Hazard Awareness: working in or around exclusion zones, heavy equipment awareness, attaching safety lanyards to power/hand tools, mitigating drop risk for small components (nuts, bolts etc.), knowing where sharp edges and hazards are around ropes in the field (hot pipes/surfaces, sharp edges from cladding or rough beams etc.) and the importance of knowing your rope path if you’re going to be moving around while hooked up - just because there isn't a hazard directly above you at first, ropes can be (and have been) damaged if you aren't aware of potential hazards when reaching to other work locations by rope

  • Rigging Plans: sometimes the most complicated rigging plans are combinations of multiple simple things strung together; however, it's important to understand how and why it was built - variable environments and factors have different requirements! 


Training Nov 2023 Blog Quote (3)


  • Personal Safety: prioritizing your safety will align your work habits, planning, and create good habits as you continue down this career path

  • Team Safety: your awareness, vigilance, and safe techniques will allow you to help your colleagues stay safe, boost confidence and increase productivity

  • Building Competency: being a new technician can have many factors contributing to the level of stress, but throughout training, understanding how and why maneuvers are done a specific way (spoiler alert: because it's safest) will reduce a lot of unnecessary anxiety

  • Practicing and Attending Open Gyms: whether it is building multiple rigging systems in different ways, using various approaches to get into position, and practicing techniques you don't often use, but have seen done by other techs, asking questions about why some maneuvers work better than others under certain circumstances - practice outside of 'real world' scenarios will continually prepare you and make you more proficient in your skills. Register for an Open Gym session here!

3. Understanding Your Role

  • Level 3 Technicians: The lead on any job site, and there to supervise and to ensure the scope of work is done safely. They have the right to ground somebody if they feel work is being done in an unsafe manner that affects a technicians' safety at height. 

  • Trade work: Work that is being done while on the ropes - whether it is welding, carpentry, maintenance, insulation, the work being done on the ropes is YOUR JOB. Separate the trade from the rope tech. Do not confuse a Level 3 lead with being proficient in the trade that is being performed. Being a Rope Access technician is 2-fold: it is 1) a means to safely access a difficult location 2) to complete a job. Do not expect a Level 3 lead, to know how to complete your job on ropes. They are there, to make sure you can do your job safely on ropes.

  • Checking Egos at the door: Rope Access is simultaneously simple and complicated. Just like there may be different ways to get something done, there are different styles of leadership, workmanship, and training. Having an open mind and accepting different opinions on how to accomplish things is the first step to success. In short, your way, is just an option. 


While the list of skills needed for success in the rope access field may seem overwhelming, it's important to remember that success is not solely determined by the techniques learned in a week of training. True success is a mindset and a daily goal that affects how you approach your training, job, safety, and professional relationships. The most crucial skills are often the ones that require practice and dedication. By prioritizing your safety and staying focused on these aspects, you are more likely to have a seamless transition from training to work in the field. At Pacific Ropes, we are committed to helping you stay on track and reach your full potential, from training into the field.


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Topics: Blog

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