Marble Setters, Tile Setters, and Terrazzo Workers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you want to apply for jobs in these three trades, you should be at least 17 or 18 years old to qualify for apprenticeship programs. You should also have graduated from high school or have received a GED. Take at least some courses that involve using hand tools, reading blueprints, and taking precise measurements. Other courses that will be helpful include general math and core English. Taking art courses will increase your knowledge and perception of colors (which is helpful in the marble and tile trades), and many vocational courses will help you improve your manual dexterity. In addition, since being in good physical condition is often necessary in these jobs, participate in sports and general physical education classes.

Postsecondary Training

The best way to train for work in these masonry and tile trades is to participate in an apprenticeship program. In each of these trades, such programs are sponsored by local unions, professional associations such as the International Masonry Institute, and contractors. Apprenticeships usually consist of about two to four years of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction. In on-the-job training, you learn from professional setters how to handle the tools and other materials of the job. You'll get used to such jobs as edging, jointing, and using a straightedge. In class, you will learn blueprint reading, layout work, basic mathematics, safety, cost estimating, and shop practice.

Other Education or Training

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, International Masonry Institute, and the National Tile Contractors Association provide continuing education classes, workshops, and seminars. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The International Masonry Institute and United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, working in cooperation with tile associations, have developed a series of certifications called the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers that "will help distinguish the skilled tile installer from the less-skilled." Current specialty certifications include large format tile floors/substrate preparation, mud work, showers, and membranes. More certifications will be added in the future. To become certified, installers must meet experience requirements and pass a written exam and practical hands-on test.

The National Tile Contractors Association offers the certified tile installer designation to experienced tile installers who pass both a multiple-choice exam and a hands-on test.

Other Requirements

As with other jobs in the building industries, it is often necessary to have a driver's license so you can operate vehicles on the job and get to job sites that are not accessible by public transportation. You may be required to pass a physical exam and written test at the end of your apprenticeship.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

To obtain experience, try to work as a helper to a marble setter, tile setter, or terrazzo worker or participate in an apprenticeship. It will take up to four years to become a full-fledged professional.

You should enjoy doing demanding work and be disciplined and motivated enough to do your job without close and constant supervision. The ability to get along with coworkers is important, as many employees in these trades work in teams.