There are an estimated 5,000 companies in the industry with an average of five full-time workers per company, according to a survey by the National Chimney Sweep Guild and the Chimney Safety Institute of America. There are also many "mom and pop" businesses, with pop tending to the chimney sweeping, and mom managing the office and telephone. Sweeps are in business in every region of the country but fare the best in larger cities, or areas with an affluent suburban or rural area. Some sweeps work only within a specific area, while others may travel to smaller towns and into the country, where no other services may be available.
It can be a challenge to break into this industry. The equipment you need, which includes a truck, power tools, and other special equipment as well as protective gear, will be costly at first. You may have to work for a few years with another business, saving up money and building a list of reliable, paying customers. Once you've gained experience with chimney sweeping and have taken certification courses, you may be able to hire on with a large sweep service or go into business with another sweep. Large businesses that sell and install wood and gas stoves will probably hire assistants, as will masonry businesses. Some of these businesses will advertise jobs in the classifieds, but your best bet would be to contact them directly. Seminars and conferences that are sponsored by the Chimney Safety Institute of America can help you get to know other chimney sweeps, both new and established, who could prove to be valuable contacts.
Once you've established your own chimney sweep service, you can advance by making more connections in the community and expanding your client base. If the amount of work warrants it, you may choose to hire assistants and office staff. With a successful business, you can also afford the best equipment and the newest tools. You should attend the seminars and conferences offered by the Chimney Safety Institute of America to learn about the advances in technology for the industry. You can also grow your business by expanding the services offered. Some sweeps move into other areas of home repair, or they offer chimney and fireplace products for sale.
Tips for Entry
Become certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America in order to show employers that you've met the highest standards established by your industry.
Visit http://www.ncsg.org/state-and-regional-associations.html for a list of state and regional chimney sweep associations, some of which provide membership, business development support, and networking opportunities.
Be willing to relocate. It may open more job opportunities.
Check out job listings at the National Chimney Sweep Guild's job board, https://web.ncsg.org/jobbank.