Marble Setters, Tile Setters, and Terrazzo Workers
There are approximately 34,130 marble and tile setters, and 2,730 terrazzo workers and finishers, employed in the United States, mainly in the construction industry. Most of those who work with terrazzo have jobs with specialty contractors installing artistic, decorative floors and walls; some are self-employed and may specialize in small jobs. Tile setters are more often self-employed, working on smaller, residential projects like bathrooms, kitchens, and other niches.
If you are interested in this work, you should explore apprenticeship programs. In addition, the local office of your state employment office may be a source of information about apprenticeship training and other programs. Local offices of workers' unions can help, as well as local contractors, who often advertise job openings in the help wanted ads.
Although formal three- or four-year apprenticeships are often available in these trades, many workers learn the work informally by working a certain number of years as a helper, watching and participating in the work firsthand with experienced craftspeople.
After being accepted for a job, new employees are referred for clearance to the union and, after a period of time working, are given positions as helpers. When an opening occurs for a skilled worker, the best qualified person with the most seniority is recommended for the position.
Skilled tile, terrazzo, and marble setters may become supervisors with the responsibility of managing work crews for large contractors. They can also become self-employed and do contracting on their own. Self-employed contractors must know not only the skills of the trade but also the principles of business. These skills include sales, bidding, bookkeeping, and supervising workers.
Tips for Entry
To obtain experience, try to work as a helper to a marble setter, tile setter, or terrazzo worker.
Join the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers and other unions to increase your chances of landing a job and receiving fair pay for your work.
Read TileLetter (http://tileletter.com) to learn more about the field.
Take classes in tile and marble setting and learn about getting certified, such as through the Cermaic Tile Installer program, https://www.ceramictilefoundation.org/certified-tile-installer-cti-program.