Freelance routesetting

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 CragRat11 22 Mar 2019

I'd really appreciate hearing people's thoughts on picking up some extra work as a freelance routesetter. 
I run my own business currently, and though the work I do can pay well it is sporadic and seasonal. Things tend to be busy through and in to the back end of the summer then drop off significantly in Jan, Feb, March. I have a young family to support so would like to find something that helps to even out our income through the year. I've done a lot of physical work in the past, labouring, landscaping, trailbuilding etc and I miss that side of things.
I've also done a lot of work at height on ropes for my other business, do lots of creative work and have climbed for 20 years or more up to about 7b indoors. I'd imagine I would start with lead wall setting.
I know there is some scope to get a bit of routesetting work at my local wall, and wondered if I might be able to pick work up further afield during the winter?
From what I gather I just need to achieve the RSA L2 qual to get started and don't need IRATA?
Are there tons of routesetters working in the UK currently and will there be lots of competition?
Is it a really hard industry to get in to (ie - cliquey)?

Any thoughts would be great. Many thanks

 Oceanrower 22 Mar 2019
In reply to CragRat11:

In short, no you don't need IRATA. You also don't need any RSA course. Most of the "names" that set have no relevant qualifications. 

Yes, there are loads of setters but, with the rate that walls are opening up, there's always room for more.

Unfortunately for you it is cliquey but, more importantly, being able to climb highish mid grades doesn't mean you'll make a good setter.

It's bloody hard work and, at entrance level, it's not well paid.

Also, things to factor in are you'll need your own tools, insurance etc.

And probably 80% of the work now is blocs!

I don't mean to try and put you off but a life of honey it ain't!

OP CragRat11 22 Mar 2019
In reply to Oceanrower:

That's really good info, thanks.
I'm not assuming i'd be a good setter when starting out and would need to do a lot of learning.
What sort of rates do you think when starting out?

 henwardian 23 Mar 2019
In reply to CragRat11:

About £1 above minimum wage if you are lucky. Unless it's changed a lot in the last few years!

If you are on good terms with a local bouldering wall, chatting up some of the staff and seeing if you can set a few boulder problems for free might be a good way to get started. This way you can prove your ability to make nice problems or at least get a load of input very quickly on what you need to do to make the things you set good. My local wall used to be quite happy to let people have a go at making a problem if they wanted and it's a zero commitment way to get started for both you and the local wall. Route setting on the other hand involves all the ropes and so the wall is probably not going to just hand you ropes and a bag of holds and say "away you go" because of the risks involved.

In terms of making money, it's very much like the entire leisure/sports industry - if you are the instructor/provider/kinda thingy for mountain biking, kayaking, climbing, walking, etc. etc. Then you are going to be on a relatively lean amount of money because that's just how the industry is. (If you are an owner of a centre or company of some kind with a number of employees, the money is a lot better). If you think you will thoroughly enjoy every minute of it then I would say, absolutely, go for it, if it feels like having fun and getting paid to have fun I think it will work out well. If it feels like work I think you might get disillusioned.

 PaulJepson 25 Mar 2019
In reply to CragRat11:

Forget any qualifications, it's all networking. 

Find any experienced setters you can tag along with, offer to strip and wash for free, etc.

It's definitely a career of passion rather than one for making money (as you won't make any money for a long time and have to invest a lot of your own free time to get established). 

There are A LOT of people who 'want to get in to route setting'. 

If you're happy to work for free and will take a lot of satisfaction out of watching people climb your routes or say they're good, then go for it. If it's purely about making money then there are a lot of easier ways to go about it. 

OP CragRat11 25 Mar 2019
In reply to CragRat11:

Thanks all. Good insight, and has helped me get some perspective on it.

I've run my own business for nearly 10 years. I'm way beyond washing holds and setting for free to get my foot in unfortunately, so it's probbly not a viable option. Perhaps if I was 15 years younger! I suspect there are better options for flexible work.

 Oceanrower 25 Mar 2019
In reply to CragRat11:

Which is a little like me saying I'm way beyond mopping the surgeons brow when I just want to perform heart surgery.

You gotta start somewhere...

OP CragRat11 26 Mar 2019
In reply to Oceanrower:

You do indeed, and you have to pick the best option that fits with your life.
Given that important bit of context, it's not the best option for me. No need to be chippy.


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