Tile and marble setters are responsible for the craft of laying hard tiles and marble slabs on interior surfaces of homes, buildings and public commercial spaces to improve the appearance and functionality of these areas. These specialized home and building improvement technicians most often learn their trade on the job or from studying under previous generations of skilled tile and marble setters in formal apprenticeship programs.
In addition to choosing the right materials for each job, tile and marble setters prepare the areas where tiles and slabs will be installed, make detailed measurements and use a wide range of adhesive and cutting tools. The designs and patterns they create with tile and marble can be simple to elaborate, but all serve to increases the value and appeal of areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, hospitals and commercial buildings.
- Tile and marble setters should have a high school diploma, perhaps followed by an apprenticeship and/or on-the-job training.
- Approximately one third of all tile and marble setters own their own businesses and work independently.
- Jobs for tile and marble setters are expected to grow at a rate of 14% through 2018.
- Employment for tile and marble setters is directly affected by fluctuations in the construction industry.
Work Environment for Tile and Marble Setters
A great many tile and marble setters work inside buildings and homes performing their duties. Work hours are generally 20-40 per week and during daytime shifts, when lighting is adequate. They may also be required to work on weekends and evenings when projects require working around office schedules, since the noise and dust can be disturbing. Workers wear protective clothing, such as eye goggles, gloves and knee pads because the job demands standing, lifting, kneeling and bending. Working around caustic chemicals and cutting equipment a great deal of the time is also likely.
Education, Training and Licensing
The minimum educational requirements to become a tile and marble setter is a high school diploma or an equivalent general educational degree or GED. High school students interested in the field of heavy tile and marble work should concentrate on coursework in mathematics, reading comprehension and business, as well as participate in shop class to learn the skills needed to perform this work. Vocational training is also available for high school students or new graduates who wish to perform tile and marble setting.
In most cases, tile and marble setters will be trained on the job for all the skills they need to work on job sites. Skills such as measuring, cutting, placement, gluing and spacing are all detailed and are developed by observing and working under the close supervision of more experienced workers. New tile setters and marble layers will be given simple tasks such as carrying materials, preparing surfaces and applying glues before being allowed to cut expensive tiles and marble. Over time, they will also be able to estimate costs for projects and how to work with clients.
In addition to on the job training opportunities, tile and marble setters can become part of apprenticeship programs and contractor-sponsored training programs that will provide a more comprehensive training in all areas of tile and marble setting. Those who decide to go on to start their own companies must become licensed as contractors through state contractor guidelines, and also become bonded and insured to perform this work.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Tile and marble setters held 41,140 total jobs in the U.S., according to the most recent wages and employment statistics published in May 2009 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS expects employment for tile and marble setters to grow at less than 7-14 % from 2008 to 2018, which is above average for all occupations. This is a fluctuating rate because the state of building and construction is dependent on the state of the economy as a whole. Those who wish to find employment in tile and marble setting will want to focus on working independently or for large building firms where contracts can pay into the tens of thousands of dollars for skills tile and marble setting work.
BLS reports indicate that the average annual wage for tile and marble setters in May of 2009 was $42,450. While the lowest 10% of tile and marble setters earned an annual income at or below $21,910 (most likely for entry level and part time workers), the top 10% earned an amazing $70,010 per year – making this one of the highest paying occupations in the home improvement and building industries.