A stucco mason applies wet stucco or plaster to the wall of a building so it can dry strong and hard. The chief means of entering this trade is to complete a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship program. Stand-alone diploma or associate's degree programs are rare, but they could give a student advanced standing in an apprenticeship. In some cases, students who complete a diploma or associate's degree program in masonry can qualify for entry-level construction work.
Prerequisites for all levels of study include a high school diploma or GED. The completion of high school math, English, science and shop courses could also be required, and applicants must be able-bodied so they can perform the tasks involved in masonry.
Apprentices may also need good transportation and may need to pass drug tests. Classes in safety and first aid are important as well. Aptitude tests of math knowledge, reasoning, verbal comprehension and mechanical ability may be required of applicants to a diploma program.
Stucco Mason Career Training: Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship in stucco masonry combines classroom courses with lots of hands-on work under the supervision of an experienced plasterer. During the program, students get paid. Typically, wages start at half the rate for a journeyman (qualified stucco mason) and increase until the student becomes a journeyman.
Apprenticeship applications may be handled through a local professional organization or union office. Some programs may keep new apprentices on probation for a while, and some require that apprentice hopefuls find an employer to sponsor them.
Before masons can get to work, they must be able to read the plans and use their tools well. Plaster, stucco and insulation are some of the topics that apprentices study. Others include:
- Blueprint reading
- Masonry tool use
- Interior plastering
- Exterior plastering
- Ornamental plastering
Associate's Degree in Construction Technology (Masonry)
An associate's degree program can prepare someone for advanced apprenticeships with a stucco mason or plasterer as well as for entry-level positions with a construction company. They can learn skills of running a business as well as the practical ability to lay plaster or stucco.
A masonry associate's degree blends hands-on practical skill with more abstract knowledge that workers in the trades will need. This type of career education may include the following courses:
- Masonry theory
- Masonry skills
- Blueprint reading
- Cost estimation
- Building permit requirements
Craftsman Diploma in Masonry
This program covers essential tools and techniques of stucco masonry, tiles and bricks. Students can also learn about masonry work with concrete, plaster, glass and other building materials. Other courses cover cost estimation, contracting and other important skills for trades work.
Would-be masons need to learn how to use their tools safely as well as how to create decorative and functional walls and other surfaces. The following courses are examples of classes that masonry students take:
- Tool use in masonry
- Mortar spreading
- Safety at the construction site
- Tile surface setting and repair
- Decorative stucco work
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree may be the student's ticket into higher-level career training or even another type of basic masonry job. Graduates can pursue the following positions:
- Apprentice mason
- Cement mason
- Tile setter
- Customer service representative
With a masonry diploma, students can apply for these and other jobs at a construction site. They will be advanced apprentices or even entry-level tradesmen. Their main role may be:
- Apprentice mason
- Tile setter
- Concrete worker
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Plasterers are needed all around the country to finish the interior walls of homes. Stucco masons who usually apply stucco to the exteriors of homes may find the best job prospects in southern states, where stucco-work houses may be more popular, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Career prospects should be good for people who have work experience and good job histories (www.bls.gov).
The BLS reported that the number of job openings for plasterers and stucco masons would increase by 7% from 2014 until 2024. Nationwide, the 2015 average wage for stucco masons and plasterers was $42,070 per year.
After completing an apprenticeship and getting on-the-job experience, the journeyman stucco mason could consider becoming a foreman or a teacher. The Instructor Certification Program offered by the International Masonry Institute, (www.imiweb.org), accepts stucco masons who have five or more years of journeyman experience. The program includes 200 hours of instruction and is completed over five years. It teaches personnel management, building procedures, harassment awareness and safety.
The International Masonry Institute offers foreman or superintendent certification for masons who want to be supervisors at the construction site. Foreman level certification takes 16 hours of instruction in supervision, management, productivity and professional relationships. Superintendent level certification requires an additional 16 hours of instruction.
Although entrance into the construction industry as a stucco mason is most commonly approached through a 3- to 4-year apprenticeship, diploma and degree programs in stucco masonry may help give job candidates an edge over the competition or help them advance to journeyman stucco mason positions more quickly.