Drywall Taper: Job Description & Career Information

Drywall tapers help make buildings beautiful, safe and environmentally sound. For more information about training opportunities, hourly wages and job growth for drywall tapers, read on!

Career Definition

Drywall is made of gypsum that has been pressed between two outer layers of paper. Fireproof and less costly than plaster, it is often made of recycled material, according to the Gypsum Association (gympum.org). Drywall tapers, also called drywall finishers, prepare a wet compound, press it into joints, nail or screw holes in the drywall and cover the wet material with tape. When a high level of finish is required, they may also apply two more coats of compound, each of which is sanded to make it smooth. Drywall tapers may use automatic tools to apply tape and compound in one step, as well as spray guns to apply decorative, textured surfaces.

How to Become a Drywall Taper

Required Education

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), drywall tapers become fully skilled after three to four years of on-the-job training and experience. While most workers are hired as helpers, employers may favor applicants trained in 1-year certificate or 2-year degree programs in construction, available at technical schools and community colleges. Admission may require registering as an apprentice with a construction trade union (www.bls.gov).

Skills Required

Drywall tapers need good vision, manual dexterity and attention to detail. According to the Occupational Information Network (ONET), they should also have a tolerance for prolonged standing, bending and stretching (www.onetcenter.org).

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to information from the BLS, job opportunities in the drywall taping industry are expected to increase 15% from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than average when compared to all other occupations. The BLS notes that, as of May 2012, the mean hourly wage of tapers was $24.01 (www.bls.gov).

Alternate Career Options

Carpenters

While a carpenter's duties typically involve the construction of wood frameworks or interior door and stair features, some craftsmen also install cabinetry and drywall. A high school diploma is required to pursue an apprenticeship, usually three to four years in length. Some carpenters start out as helpers and learn their skills on the job. Nationwide, carpenters can look forward to a 24%, or much-faster-than average, growth in jobs between 2012 and 2022, as reported by the BLS. According the BLS, carpenters were paid a median wage of $19.20 an hour in May 2012 (www.bls.gov).

Painters (construction and maintenance)

Painters brush, roll and spray coatings, paints and stains to a variety of surfaces, including buildings, bridges and walls; additional duties may include preparing and repairing the surfaces. On-the-job training is common; apprenticeships are also available and can take up to four years to complete. The BLS reports that employment prospects for painters are expected to increase by 20% nationwide from 2012-2022, a much-faster-than-average rate when compared to all other occupations. In May 2012, the median wage for painters was $16.92 an hour (www.bls.gov).

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