Although they may seem like nothing more than a quaint holdover from Victorian times, there’s still demand for chimney sweeps’ services. Although the rise of modern heating has made burning wood and coal a novelty for many homeowners, chimneys still collect carbon residue and must be periodically cleaned to prevent chimney fires and promote air flow.
Many chimney sweeps don’t work full time, according to the Albuquerque Tribune, and many support themselves through other sources of income. Because of this, earnings vary greatly by the amount of work a chimney sweep can get. The average annual salary for a chimney sweep is $18,000 as of January 2011, according to Simply Hired, although the Tribune and the Savannah Morning News report that full-time chimney sweeps earn between $500 and $1,000 a week.
Salaries Around the Country
Although the increase in energy costs has led some homeowners to turn to wood and coal as alternatives for heating their homes, chimney sweeps don’t report higher earnings in cold areas than in warm regions. The highest paid chimney sweeps work in New York, and earn an average annual salary of $25,424 as of January 2011, according to Salary Expert, with those in Chicago earning the second highest earnings, at $21,836. All other cities reported salaries of less than $20,000, with very little difference between earnings in Sun Belt locations – sweeps in Phoenix earn $19,231 each year – and the chilly Midwest, where those in Indianapolis earn average annual salaries of $19,563.
Other Services Offered
Although some chimney sweeps are simply in the business of cleaning out flues, others branch into chimney and fireplace repair. These sweeps not only clean out chimneys, but also offer restorative work on historical buildings, repair damaged masonry in chimneys and repair chimney liners for homeowners, according to the Savannah Morning News. Some sweeps also perform pest-removal.
Training and Certification
Many chimney sweeps learn their trade by working as assistants to established sweeps, although the Chimney Safety Institute of America offers a training course to get brand-new chimney sweeps up to speed on safety issues and standard practices. The institute also offers a voluntary certification -- certified chimney sweep -- although it is not necessary for sweeps to practice their trade.