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Wall Plasterer: Information About a Career in Wall Plastering

Read on to see what wall plasterers do. Find out how to prepare from this job. Get information about career prospects and earning potential to see if this is a good job for you.

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Career Definition for a Wall Plasterer

Wall plastering is one of the oldest techniques in building construction and is as popular now as it was in the days when mud and straw were used to seal the interior walls of more humble lodgings. Today, a wall plasterer applies plaster over drywall or other surfaces for decorative effect and to create a more soundproof, fire-resistant interior. A wall plasterer uses a metal lathe to spread one or more coats of plaster or 'mud' on top of a wall, ceiling or other flat surface. Most wall plasterers work indoors, but exterior work, usually meant to be decorative, is occasionally required. A skilled wall plasterer knows how to manipulate both lathe and plaster to create any number of decorative finishes, from perfectly smooth to rough and rustic. In some cases, a wall plasterer may also work as a drywall hanger; however, the occupation of wall plasterer is still considered an independent specialty.

Required Education On-the-job training is usual in this field; no education necessary
Job Duties Include manipulating lathe and plaster; creating decorative finishes, both inside and outside
Median Salary (2015)* $37,320 (all wall plasterers and stucco masons)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 11% growth (all painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Required

There is no minimum educational requirement to work as a wall plasterer and most people in this field receive on-the-job training. The most common way to become a wall plasterer is to work for a contractor and receive on-the-job training. Apprentice wall plasterers will typically begin their training by hauling materials and mixing plaster for more experienced workers to use. Later, they will learn the methods of wall plastering one step at a time. Formal apprenticeships are available through unions or committees of contractors, and these apprenticeships usually include 3-4 years of paid training, as well as classroom instruction.

Skills Required

A wall plasterer needs basic math skills to estimate the necessary materials for a job. Wall plastering can be physically demanding, requiring long hours of bending, reaching, standing or lying on a scaffold, so a reasonable level of fitness is helpful. Those applying decorative finishes will need some artistic ability, and all wall plasterers need an eye for detail.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reported that from 2014-2024, painters, paperhangers, plasterers, and stucco masons should have an 11% rate of growth, which is faster than average. The BLS places the 2015 median yearly salary for wall plasterers and stucco masons at $37,320 and states that factors such as weather and fluctuations in the construction industry can affect the earnings of workers in this field.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Drywall Installer

Drywall installers calculate how much drywall board is needed for a job. They prepare the drywall board by making cuts in it as needed, such as for outlets or doorways. They affix the drywall panels to the studs in the wall so that they can be taped and painted to complete the walls of a room. Aspiring drywall installers typically prepare for the job through a 3-4 apprenticeship or on-the-job training. Drywall and ceiling tile installers can expect job growth of 5% from 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The agency also reports that drywall and ceiling tile installers earned median pay of $39,220 in 2015.

Cement Mason

Cement masons prepare, pour, and level concrete floors, sidewalks, stairs, and other structures. They prep the area where cement will be applied, and keep an eye on poured concrete while it hardens to ensure the desired look is achieved, taking into account any climate conditions. Cement masons may enter this career through an apprenticeship or on-the-job training. The BLS anticipates that cement masons and concrete finishers will see job growth of 13% from 2014-2024. Cement masons and concrete finishers took home median pay of $37,740 in 2015, according to the BLS.

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