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Job Description of a Tile Contractor

Tile contractors, or setters, require no formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

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No postsecondary education is required to become a tile contractor. Completing an apprenticeship or associate's degree is an option, and may increase job prospects for those pursuing a career in this field. Tile contractors need physical endurance, must be detail-oriented, and should have good customer service skills.

Essential Information

Tile contractors install ceramic, porcelain, marble and other kinds of tiles in a wide variety of buildings for commercial contractors and individual customers. The work of a tile contractor is physically demanding and may require an irregular schedule. While no education is required, some community colleges and technical schools offer ceramic tile and vinyl flooring programs for aspiring and experienced contractors.

Required Education None required; associate's degree and apprenticeships available
Required Skills Physical endurance; detail-oriented; customer service skills
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 5% (for tile and marble setters)
Average Salary (2015)* $44,010 (for tile and marble setters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Tile Contractor Job Description

Tile contractors install tiles on floors, walls and ceilings of all kinds of private and public buildings. They may also apply tiles to counters, patios and roof decks. Tile contractors may work during regular business hours; however, in many cases they work evenings and weekends to avoid disturbing homeowners or business clients. 40% of tile and marble contractors, or setters, were self-employed in 2014 (www.bls.gov).

Physical Nature of the Job

Installing hard tiles is physically demanding work. It requires hours of heavy lifting, bending, kneeling and reaching. Installers should wear knee-pads to help prevent injuries. The adhesives used to install tiles can be messy and may produce toxic or unpleasant-smelling fumes, and tile cutters and other tools can produce injuries if not used carefully. On-the-job injury rates for tile contractors are higher than the national average for all careers. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA) offers a safety-training course to help contractors learn to work more safely.

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Tile Contractor Job Duties

Surface Preparation

To make sure tiles are installed and spaced consistently, tile contractors make detailed measurements and use spacers, as well as other tools. Tile contractors may create blueprints or lay out tiles on a dry surface to prepare decorative mosaics or patterns. Installers use electric or mechanical tools to cut tiles to go around toilet bowls, pipes and other fixtures.

Tiles contractors lay tiles on a flat, clean and level surface. Tile contractors will sometimes install new drywall, tile backer board or another material to a wall, ceiling or floor to be tiled. Concrete floors and other uneven surfaces may need to be leveled with mortar.

Grouting, Sealing and Other Job Duties

Once the tiles have been set, tile contractors apply grout between them and wipe away the excess grout with damp sponges. They apply a pre-seal to unglazed tiles prior to grouting. After the grout sets, tile contractors sometimes apply a final sealing agent. Other job duties for tile contractors may include reading blueprints, polishing and finishing tiles, mixing adhesives and creating decorative mosaics.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2015, tile and marble setters earned an annual average salary of $44,010. Local and federal government jobs during that time paid the top salaries for these workers, the BLS said. Employment for these professionals was projected to increase by 5%, from 2014-2024, per the BLS.

Tile contractors install tiles in residential or commercial buildings, on new construction projects or during renovations. Working with a wide range of materials, they prepare surfaces, lay tile, grout and seal surfaces. Many tile contractors work irregular hours while being self-employed, and job growth in this field is predicted to be slower than average through the 2014-2014 decade.

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