Rope Access training is demanding, and the work of Rope Access Technicians is even more challenging. Various governing bodies worldwide, such as IRATA, SPRAT, SOFT, FISAT, and others, have established tiered systems that resemble apprenticeships. These systems focus on progression in rope skills, responsibilities, and client expectations as you advance through the levels.
What are some of the challenges?
- It's been a while - 3 years since last certification is a long time!
- Many of the new skills taught for upgrades, are not used frequently in daily, work; however, these significant skills are required for for safety, and ultimately passing
- It's not meant to be easy! There is a high standard of accountability within the industry - even IRATA and SPRAT assessors and evaluators must train and test every 3 year period!
Here are a few key considerations before pursuing your IRATA Upgrade:
1) Ensure Proficiency in Your Current Level
Candidates applying for an upgrade must be competent in all practical and theoretical aspects of their current level before attending an upgrade course. For example, a Level 1 candidate attending a Level 2 course should be capable of performing all Level 1 techniques and answering Level 1 theory questions. It's essential to put in effort outside the 4-5 days of training to meet these prerequisites.
4.3.1 Candidates applying to upgrade shall be competent in all practical and theory requirements of their current level prior to attendance of an upgrade course, e.g. an existing Level 1 attending a Level 2 course shall be capable of performing all Level 1 techniques and answering Level 1 theory questions prior to the start of a Level 2 course.
2) Consider Refresher Training
Candidates who are not competent at their existing level may require additional training. Since upgrade courses have limited time for refresher training, a pre-course evaluation is recommended to assess the candidates' current competence. Many IRATA training centers offer refresher training to help you catch up on your current level's skills. Open Gym nights, where experienced rope techs can practice and receive guidance, are also beneficial. Additionally, numerous resources are available online, offering tips and techniques for rope access maneuvers. Keep in mind that these videos are meant to expose you to different methods, and there isn't a single "right" way to perform these techniques.
4.3.2 Candidates who are not competent at their existing level may require additional training. As little time is available on upgrade courses for refresher training, pre-course evaluation is recommended to verify the candidates’ current level of competence.
3) Experience Matters More Than Hours
Candidates should carefully consider their experience before attempting to progress to a higher level. Having 1,000 hours and one year of work experience doesn't necessarily mean you're ready to upgrade. It's not just about the quantity of hours; it's about the quality and diversity of your work experience. Candidates who lack diverse work scenarios or experiences may not meet the required standards. Instead of rushing to upgrade for a pay raise, seek mentors among supervisors and employers who can guide you on what you need to do before upgrading.
4.2.6 Candidates should consider their experience carefully before attempting to progress to a higher level. Candidates without appropriate experience, adequate pre-assessment training and knowledge of the syllabus are unlikely to meet the required standard when assessed.
What are the next steps?
Luckily we’ve got you covered. As an IRATA training center, we evaluate candidates with high discretion so you have the best chance of success. At Pacific Ropes, we offer refresher training (free with each training week you register for! Also available for purchase without training session) to get caught up on your current levels skills.
Come in and hang around with other like-minded rope techs looking to hone their skills or get a jump start on new skills at our Open Gyms. One of our instructors will be present to give demonstrations and correct any mistakes so you can feel confident before the first day of your next course!
If you really can’t get into a training center for refresher training or an informal evaluation, there are plenty of resources all over the place with tips and tricks, breaking down each maneuver in a multitude of different ways! Those videos are meant to expose you to different techniques, none of them, including ours, are by any means the only way to perform these rescues, or techniques. Take pride in an ability to adapt to different methods. Sometimes one method will work better over another because of the subtleties of a situation. If you like to see our techniques, head over to our YouTube page.
In conclusion, Rope Access is an evolving and rapidly growing industry, and your commitment to learning and adapting is crucial. Don't rely solely on the 4 days of training to encompass all the knowledge you need. Embrace your skills in Rope Access, explore various techniques, and continuously educate yourself. If you've made it this far, you're part of a dynamic industry that's setting standards globally for Rope Access Techniques in Canada. If you believe you're ready to upgrade, we're here to support you on your journey.
Think you're ready to upgrade? We'd love to see you!