Career and Job Highlights
Job opportunities are expected to be good for those entering the industry in the next few years. Most workers gain skills from observing and working with experienced workers, often through apprenticeships or trainee programs. The construction industry is notoriously sensitive to variations in the economy, and so employment may not be steady during recessions or downturns. The nature of the project-based work means that cement masons may work overtime to complete jobs.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher Career Overview
Concrete is one of the most popular construction materials. The mixture of sand, water, gravel, and Portland cement is durable, inexpensive, and versatile. It is used in many different areas of construction, from foundations, floor, verandas, sidewalk in residential houses; to miles of highways or dams weighing tons.
There are many different jobs that work with concrete.
After the terrazzo is set, workers use a terrazzo grinder, which is a kind of heavy floor polisher. After polishing, the marks left by the grinder are filled in with a matching spackle and then smoothed with a trowel. To finish, the workers scour, polish, and apply sealant to the surface until it shines.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher Training and Job Qualifications
Most workers in this industry gain their skills on the job, beginning as assistants and working their way up, or by completing an apprenticeship that usually lasts three to four years. Many start out by being construction laborers.
When evaluating prospective cement masons, finishers, segmental pavers, or terrazzo workers, hirers usually look for a few things. Being a high school graduate isn’t required but it is extremely helpful, as are courses in reading blueprints, math, mechanical drawing, or science. Applicants also need to be eighteen or older, physically fit, and hold a driver’s license. Masons often work in teams and so the ability to work well in a group is important.
Many employers offer training programs that involve both practical and classroom instruction. Trainees learn about materials, how to operate machinery, and how to use tools. They start out doing only simple tasks like edging, leveling, and troweling. As they gain more experience they will be given more responsibility and advance to being able to finish and then install.
Apprenticeships are usually sponsored by individual contractors or local unions. They usually take three to four years and provide very thorough training. They work with experienced workers to learn practices and tools. They also are required to complete 144 hours of classroom instructions where they are taught safety procedures, math, and how to read blueprints. They might also learn specialized skills like estimating cost and layout work. Other workers gain skills by completing programs at vocational schools.
Some personal attributes will also contribute to becoming good cement masons, concrete finishers, terrazzo workers, and segmental pavers. They should enjoy doing detail-oriented work, be independent workers, like doing intense, short-term projects, and find satisfaction in craftsmanship.
Job and Employment Opportunities for Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers
Cement masons, concrete finishers, terrazzo workers, and segmental pavers are predicted to have excellent employment opportunities in coming years. There is high demand for their work and little competition as many workers look for employment that is less physically strenuous.
Job growth in this industry is expected to be better than the average for all jobs. There will be a lot of demand for workers to be involved in the building of roads, tunnels for trains, industrial plants, offices, restaurants, hospitals, schools, and many other constructions. Cement masons will also be in high demand for restoration and repair work. Job openings will come both from new jobs being created and as workers move to other careers or industries.
Even though job growth is predicted, this industry, like all areas of construction, is easily influenced by rises and falls in the economy. Thus, work may be unsteady. However, during high levels of construction there might not be enough concrete masons, concrete finishers, terrazzo workers, and segmental pavers and so they will be in extremely high demand.
Historical Earnings Information
The majority of cement masons and concrete finishers earned between $11.50/h and $20.00/h in 2002, with a median of $14.70. The highest tenth on the pay scale earned more the $26/h and the lowest tenth earned less than $9.30.
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