TILE SETTERS California Occupational Guide Number 103 Interest Area 5-B 1996
TILE SETTERS build long lasting surfaces with ceramic tile. Because it is water resistant, ceramic tile is most often used in kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways. It is also used in exterior work, such as patio floors, exterior veneers, and sometimes around swimming pools and spas. In commercial buildings, such as shopping malls, tile may also be used on plaza floors.
Tile setting requires a solid, flat surface such as plywood or a concrete floor. When preparing walls and countertops, Tile Setters float a strong concrete base by applying waterproof paper to the wall or counter top. They then cut reinforced wire mesh and tack it down. Next, they prepare a mixture of cement, sand, and water, which they spread over the lath. Finally, the concrete is leveled and allowed to dry.
After preparing the surface, Tile Setters apply a finer grade of cement or mastic, using a serrated trowel to achieve the desired thickness. Tile Setters must cut and shape some of the tiles with biters and cutters so the tiles fit around corners, cabinets, sinks, and windows.
Next, they place several tiles on the wet cement, separate them evenly with plastic joints, and line up the tiles with a straight edge before tapping them into place.
After this cement dries, Tile Setters fill the spaces between tiles with grout, a fine cement which is available in a variety of colors. After the grout dries, they finally apply a sealer to make the grout waterproof and stain-resistant.
Some Tile Setters may estimate the amount of tile and other materials needed for the job by studying blueprints and measuring the surface to be covered. They may estimate the cost of materials and labor for the customer, assist the customer in selection of tile and grout, or may order materials needed for the job.
Tile Setters usually work indoors, in buildings that are under construction or that are being remodeled. The work of a Tile Setter is strenuous and involves a great deal of prolonged standing, reaching, bending, kneeling, and heavy lifting. Tile Setters sometimes lift cement bags and mortar buckets weighing 100 pounds or more and boxes of tiles. Hazards of the job include falls from ladders, possible cuts from tools or materials, muscle strains, and back and knee injuries.
Occupations that are similar to or related to Tile Setter are bricklayers, concrete masons, stone masons, plasterers, marble setters or layers, and terrazzo setters or layers.
Various unions represent Tile Setters, including the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, the Ceramic Tile Layers Union, and the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.
The following information is from the California Projections and Planning Information
report published by the Labor Market Information Division.
Estimated number of workers in 1993 2,730 Estimated number of workers in 2005 4,350 Projected Growth 1993-2005 59% Estimated openings due to separations by 2005 920
(These figures do not include self-employment nor openings due to turnover.)
Employment growth in this occupation is expected to proceed at a higher than average rate when compared to all other occupations in California through the year 2005. Nationwide, the job growth is expected to be slower with most job opportunities coming from the replacement of Tile Setters who retire or leave because of other reasons.
In the United States, most Tile Setters work on nonresidential construction, and about one of every two Tile Setters is a self-employed contractor.
Compared to other construction occupations, the number of Tile Setters is small and job turnover is relatively low.
The demand for Tile Setters will be driven by population and business growth, particularly in the construction industry. More shopping malls, hospitals, schools, office complexes, and restaurants will be built, the construction of which often entails the use of tile.
Tile is also being used more extensively in the construction of expensive homes, patios, and swimming pools which will also stimulate the demand for Tile Setters.
WAGES, HOURS, AND FRINGE BENEFITS
Most Tile Setters work about 40 hours a week. Nonunion Tile Setters may make as little as $4.75 per hour or as much as $25.00 per hour. Union wages for Tile Setters can range from around $21.00 to about $33.00 per hour.
Apprentice Tile Setters start at about half the journey level rates, earning wages ranging from $5.00 to $15.00 per hour. Apprenticeship contracts determine the amount and frequency of wage increases.
Fringe benefits may include pension plans, life and health insurance, paid holidays, and vacations.
ENTRANCE REQUIREMENTS AND TRAINING
Tile Setters usually begin as helpers until they enter an apprenticeship program. After completing a three or four-year program that includes both practical and classroom education, the apprentice can advance to full journey-level status. An apprenticeship program usually consists of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction in blueprint reading, layout, and basic mathematics.
To become an apprentice, a candidate must be at least 18 years old and be physically able to perform the work of the trade. Good vision, color perception, and manual dexterity are important assets.
Though there are no formal educational requirements, employers usually prefer high school graduates. Job applicants should know basic math and be able to read and write. Helpful high school classes include shop and mechanical drawing. The ability to read blueprints is also a desirable skill.
In areas where there are no union apprenticeship programs, many Tile Setters acquire skills informally by working as helpers to experienced workers.
Skilled tile setters may become supervisors, estimators, or they may start their own contracting business which requires licensing by the State of California.
Many Tile Setters are self-employed contractors, especially in small towns removed from large metropolitan areas.
FINDING THE JOB
Journey level tile setters can apply directly to tile setter contractors or contact the appropriate union in their area. They can also check the want ads and apply with the local Job Service office of the California Employment Development Department. Applicants for helper positions should contact the union or call the tile-setter contractors in their area to learn the trade.
ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION
For apprenticeship information, contact the local tile setters' union or the:
California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship Standards 45 Fremont Street San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 975-2038
International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen International Masonry Institute Apprenticeship and Training 815 15th St. NW Washington, DC 20005 (202) 783-3788
United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Tile, Marble, and Terrazzo Finishers Division 101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20001 (202) 546-6206
Those interested in self-employment should contact the:
Contractors State License Board 9835 Goethe Road P.O. Box 26000, 95826 Sacramento, CA 95827 (800) 321-2752
RELATED OCCUPATIONAL GUIDES
Cement Masons No. 181 Plasterers & Stucco Masons No. 249 Floor Covering Installers No. 383
OCCUPATIONAL CODE REFERENCES
DOT (Dictionary of Occupational Titles, 4th ed., Rev. 1) Tile Setter 861.381-054 Tile Setter Apprentice 861.381-058
OES (Occupational Employment Statistics) System Hard Tile Setters 873080
Source: State of California, Employment Development Department, Labor Market Information Division, Information Services Group, (916) 262-2162.