So, You Want to Become a Chimney Sweep? Here’s What You Need to Know…

Deciding to become a chimney sweep is a big (and great!) decision. It’s a career that can bring you a lot of fulfillment and afford you and your family a great lifestyle. And it’s a career you can take pride in.

During COVID, ‘chimney sweep’ was deemed ‘essential’ work that the community needed. Which meant we were able to be there, serving our neighbors and helping them enjoy safer, more comfortable homes during quarantine. And unlike many other jobs out there, chimney sweep is a job that won’t be replaced by automation in the next decade or two. It’s a job that’s not going anywhere.

So, how do you get started? That’s what we’re going to get into now.

Ready? Let’s do this.

Do Chimney Sweeps Need a License?

Surprisingly, the chimney sweeping industry is not a regulated industry that requires a license. Which means, you could just buy a set of brushes and rods, slap a logo on a truck, watch a couple of YouTube videos, and start working in and on chimneys, fireplaces, and furnace flues.

Now, that’s terrifying. And not just to us, but to homeowners, too.

Here at CSIA, we believe that if you’re going to be inspecting and working on appliances and venting systems that are designed to keep fire and toxic gases like carbon monoxide contained, you should have some qualifications. You should be trained and know what the heck you’re doing.

That’s why the CSIA was started back in the 1980s – to provide the education and training needed to safely and correctly evaluate and maintain chimneys and venting systems.

So, do you need a license to be a chimney sweep? No. But should you get licensed/certified? Absolutely. For your peace of mind and for your clients’. You don’t want to be the one who improperly installed a fireplace or missed a blockage that led to a chimney fire.

If you’re going to do it – do it right. Get certified.

How Do I Train to Be a Chimney Sweep? Should I Do an Apprenticeship First?

When it comes to learning the chimney and venting industry, there’s no substitute for study and hands-on training. There’s a lot to learn – from codes and standards to how venting systems work and common problems to look out for – so you’ll need to invest in education and training at the start.

Getting your CSIA certification is the most direct way to get that training, and the CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® credential is acknowledged by industry organizations, insurance underwriters, and local, state, and federal agencies. Which means, that badge will immediately give you confidence and authority, and let others in adjacent industries know they can feel good referring their customers to you.

Here at CSIA, there are a couple of different ways you can train to become a chimney sweep:

    1. You can take the DIY approach and buy the manuals and reference materials needed to get up to speed, schedule a review, and take the CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® exam.
    2. Or you could knock it all out – manual study and hands-on training – in one fell swoop with the National Training Academy. It’s a six-day workshop that will prep you for the CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® exam, which you’ll take at the end of the course.

Now, let’s talk apprenticeships…

Apprenticeships aren’t all that common in the chimney and venting industry. But the good news is that if you go through the training and studying required to become a CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep®, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence you need to get started.

Many companies will also pay for you to get certified once you’re hired. Talk to your potential employer about getting certified and the added value it can bring to your business.

Yes, it’s an investment for them, but it’s one that pays off. For one, you’ll get up to speed faster, so you can better serve their clients, without your employer having to pay someone to supervise and make sure you’re doing things right. Plus, your certification will be a selling point that will build trust with homeowners and give any company you work for an edge over the competition.

What Should I Look for in a Company When Starting Out?

Weighing your options and considering who you might want to work for as you start down this new career path? Here are a few things to look for in a company:

  • A focus on ongoing education and training – There’s a lot to learn if you want to be one of the best in the chimney and venting industry. Things don’t stay the same over time. Technology changes, codes change. You want to stay on top of those changes, which is why you want to work for a company that never stops training and learning. Look for clues on the company’s website and social media and, during the interview, ask what their stance is on ongoing education and training and how important it is to them as a company.
  • CSIA Certification – One big clue that a company prioritizes ongoing education and training is CSIA certification. CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweeps® must earn a certain amount of CEUs every three years to maintain their certification. So, if a company has a lot of certified techs, that’s a good sign they prioritize ongoing education and training for their team.
  • Low Turnover – Some companies can’t keep employees because they’re not good companies to work for. Obviously, you don’t want to start your career with a company that will make you immediately hate your job. So, during the interview process, ask about employee turnover rates and see if you can have a chat with one or more of the long-term employees. Ask them what they like best about working there and why they’ve stayed as long as they have.
  • Good Reviews – Business owners tend to say a lot of great things about their own businesses, but you’ll find more objective opinions if you look at the company’s reviews. What are their customers saying about them? Are the majority of their reviews positive or negative? If customers are having a bad experience more often than not, that’s not the kind of company you want to get involved with.
  • Mission, Values & Company Culture – Lastly, take a look at the company’s mission, values, and company culture. Do their values match your own personal values? Does their mission resonate with you? Could you see yourself fitting into the culture? Spying on Facebook, GlassDoor, and other platforms can be a great way to get a more honest look at these things. It’s easy to say the company has a set of values and a specific mission and company culture on a company website. But look elsewhere to see if their actions and words align or if it’s all just a façade.

Use Our Website as a Resource – That’s What It’s For!

Still have questions about how to become a chimney sweep? We’ve put together a lot of resources for you here on our website. Head over to our Certified Chimney Sweep® page. That’s where you’ll find all the details on earning the CSIA-Certified Chimney Sweep® credential.

You might also want to check out Your Guide to Taking the CSIA Exam and our resource piece, CCS vs. CCP: What’s the Difference & Why Get Both?

If you have any other questions as you start down your new career path as a chimney sweep, feel free to reach out to us at 317-837-5362 or office@csia.org. We’re here to help.

 

Another career path that might be right for you is as a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician®…find out why and how to become one here.