Tile Installer: Job Duties and Info About Becoming a Tile Installer

The job title of tile installer is most commonly used to refer to a skilled laborer who installs tiles made of hard materials such as granite, ceramic, glass or marble. Read on to learn about the training, skills, salary and employment outlook for this occupation.

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Career Definition for a Tile Installer

A tile installer, also referred to as a tile setter or tilesetter, applies tile made of durable materials like ceramic, granite, porcelain or even cement, to cover such surfaces as floors, shower stalls, countertops, walls and patios. Once the surface has been prepared, the tile installer arranges the tiles for fit, color and design in a technique referred to as 'dry fitting' before they are permanently adhered to the desired surface using an adhesive known as 'thin set.' Once the adhesive is completely dry, a tile installer fills the spaces between the tiles with grout and sealant before cleaning the newly-placed tiles. A tile installer uses hand and power tools to perform this job.

Education Apprenticeship or on-the-job training
Job Skills Math, creativity, dexterity, interpersonal communication, physical fitness
Median Salary (2015)* $39,400 (all tile and marble setters)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 6% (all tile and marble setters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Typically, tile installers learn their skills through on-the-job training or apprenticeship programs. A student tile installer will learn to master one step of the job at a time before he or she is given greater responsibility. Basic tile installation can be performed by any person with good home repair skills, but it takes practice and mentoring to work with a difficult material like granite or to master more complex aspects of tile installation such as making intricate cuts for a decorative layout.

Skills Required

Proper tile installation requires precision, so a successful tile installer must have strong math and measuring skills along with an eye for detail. Tile installation also requires a great deal of lifting, bending and squatting, so a reasonable level of physical fitness is needed. Though customers or supervisors usually determine the design for a tile installer to follow, a good understanding of artistic balance and color is helpful.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the occupation of tile and marble setters, including tile installers, is expected to grow at an average rate of 6% from 2014-2024, partly due to the increasing popularity of tile flooring. The BLS lists the 2015 median annual salary of marble and tile setters at $39,400. About 40% of workers in the field, including flooring installers as well as tile and marble setters, were self-employed in 2014.

Alternate Career Options

Individuals pursuing employment as a tile installer may be interested in opportunities in roofing and carpentry.

Roofer

Roofers might find employment before earning a high school diploma and normally learn their skills while on the job or through apprenticeships. A faster-than-average employment growth of 13% from 2014-2024 was predicted by the BLS for these workers. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for roofers in 2015 was $36,720.

Carpenter

With the background of a high school education, typically in addition to a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship program or on-the-job training, carpenters repair and construct buildings and structures within buildings, in addition to installing siding, drywall and cabinets. The BLS projected an average job growth of 6% during the 2014-2024 decade, and reported a median annual wage of $42,090 in 2015.

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