According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, cement masons, concrete finishers and terrazzo workers typically have no formal education requirements and instead learn their trade either through apprenticeships or on the job. Still, those individuals who take college-level courses in concrete inspection, blueprints, building codes and building materials might have an edge over competitors in the job force. They could find entry-level positions with cement manufacturers, construction companies or engineering firms.
Prerequisites for these programs include a high school diploma or GED. Certificate training takes one to two semesters to complete, while diploma programs take one to two years. Associate's degree programs can be completed in two years.
Certificates Covering Concrete Inspection
These undergraduate certificate programs may be offered in concrete inspection or in building inspection with relevant concrete inspection courses. While prior, relevant work experience or training may not be necessary, these programs might be most useful to individuals already working in the field who are seeking specialization in concrete inspection. This could include professionals working in fields like construction management, building inspection or architecture.
Courses in these programs can focus both on working with concrete and broader building inspection principles. Students can study subjects like:
- Building codes
- Construction materials
- Computer applications
- Concrete technology and inspection
- Plan review
Diplomas Covering Concrete Technology
Technical and community colleges offer diploma programs in concrete masonry and concrete technology. These programs can include hands-on lab work and training in the uses of concrete in brick, block and flatwork applications. Because concrete workers often work outdoors and carry heavy loads, applicants to these programs are typically required to be in good physical condition.
In addition to learning the fundamentals of the concrete and construction industries, students can learn about framing and mathematics. As preparation for careers in concrete facilities and on construction sites, students learn about:
- Blueprint reading
- Concrete testing
- Job estimating
- Structural design
- Worksite safety
Associate of Applied Science Degrees Covering Concrete Technology
These programs in concrete technology or construction technology can teach students the technical skills needed for entry-level management positions. Students can gain practical experience working with aggregate mixtures, pavement design, project estimation and inspection practices.
As preparation for building highways, tunnels and sewage treatment facilities, programs can require courses in algebra, physics and computer technology. Concrete technicians-in-training can also learn:
- Building construction
- Mix proportioning
- Placed concrete
- Precast concrete
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 163,360 concrete finishers and cement masons employed as of May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS jobs forecast from 2014-2024 predicted employment of masons and finishers working with cement and concrete to increase faster than average, at 15%. The May 2015 reports from the same source showed that these professionals earned a median annual wage of $37,740.
Popular Career Options
Entry-level concrete professionals can work for engineering companies, cement manufacturers, pipe producers and at all levels of government. Graduates of certificate programs, who also have adequate experience in the field, can be qualified for multiple professional positions. Program graduates could find themselves in both the private and public sectors, working as:
- Admixture representatives
- Assistant estimators
- Concrete and masonry inspectors
- Plant managers
- Testing and quality control technicians
- Restoration experts
Certification and Continuing Education Information
Examinations for prospective certified concrete inspectors are often administrated through the state departments of transportation. The American Concrete Institute (ACI) also offers more than a dozen certifications for professionals in the concrete industry.
Concrete industry management, civil engineering and concrete technology programs exist at the Bachelor of Science, Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy levels, for students interested in formalized training. These types of programs prepare graduates for advanced management and supervisory positions, as well as careers in research and product development.
Individuals looking to pursue concrete inspection training can learn the skills needed to work on a job site through certificate, diploma and associate's degree programs. Many cement masons and concrete finishers receive their education through apprenticeships and on-the-job training, although degrees and certificates may give applicants an advantage when pursuing employment.