Tile installers, also known as tile setters, prepare surface areas for tile application to walls, countertops, floors and ceilings. No formal degree programs for tile installers are currently offered. Most aspiring tile installers learn the trade by working with skilled journeymen, or by participating in apprenticeship or vocational programs. Tile installers with this educational background are often hired at higher beginning wages than those without.
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Tile Setter Training Programs
Usually lasting 3-4 years, a formal apprenticeship program teaches tile installation in a structured on-the-job environment. Aspiring tile installers begin by carrying materials, holding tiles and clearing debris. As they advance through the apprenticeship, students learn to use the tools, machines and equipment of the trade. By the end of the program, participants should be able to estimate the cost of installing and finishing tile work, at which point they will be considered formally trained tile installers. Some programs can take between 2-3 years to complete and can be paid or unpaid.
In order to apply to tile installer or setter apprenticeships, applicants will need to contact a 2-year college, training center, technical school or local union office. Most apprenticeships require applicants to be 17 years old with high school diplomas or equivalent. It is recommended that candidates have taken English, general math, science, geometry and shop courses during high school. Apprentices may need to pass drug tests and physical exams to prove they can handle the working conditions.
Tile installers will need knowledge of building and construction, business principles and materials. Tile types, installation techniques and control mechanisms are just some of the areas that apprentices study. Other topics include the following:
- Finishing work
- Blueprint reading
- Marble installation
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job growth for tile and marble setters was projected to increase by 5% during the 2014-2024 period, which is the same as the average rate of growth (www.bls.gov). The BLS notes that tile setting will be in demand as the U.S. bounces back from the recession. The median hourly wage for tile and marble setters was $18.94 in 2015, reported the BLS.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education
The Certified Tile Installer (CTI) exam is offered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF). This certification is available to tile installers who have two years of work experience in supervisory or lead tile installer positions. An associate degree is not required to work as a tile installer; however, professionals may consider continuing their educations through a skilled or technical degree program if they want to advance into management positions.
As there is no degree program available for aspiring tile installers, interested individuals should enroll in an apprenticeship program. The Tile Setter Training Programs are usually accessible through a 2-year college, training center, technical school or local union office.