Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers

Summary

cement mason and terrazzo workers image
Cement masons smooth surfaces using trowels.
Quick Facts: Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers
2012 Median Pay $35,830 per year
$17.23 per hour
Entry-Level Education See How to Become One
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2012 144,300
Job Outlook, 2012-22 29% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 41,700

What Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers Do

Cement masons pour, smooth, and finish concrete floors, sidewalks, roads, and curbs. Using a cement mixture, terrazzo workers create durable and decorative surfaces for floors and stairways.

Work Environment

Concrete and terrazzo work is fast paced and strenuous and often involves kneeling, bending, and reaching. Because many jobs are outdoors, work generally stops in wet weather. Most work full time.

How to Become a Cement Mason or Terrazzo Worker

Although most cement masons and terrazzo workers learn on the job, some learn their trade through an apprenticeship.

Pay

In May 2012, the median annual wage for cement masons and concrete finishers was $35,760. The median annual wage for terrazzo workers and finishers was $39,740 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of cement masons and terrazzo workers is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will depend on the number of commercial, public, and civil construction projects, including roads, bridges, and buildings. Overall job opportunities are expected to be good, particularly for those with related work experience.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of cement masons and terrazzo workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about cement masons and terrazzo workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers Do About this section

Cement mason and terrazzo workers
Pumps are sometimes used to ease the spread of concrete.

Cement masons pour, smooth, and finish concrete floors, sidewalks, roads, and curbs. Using a cement mixture, terrazzo workers create durable and decorative surfaces for floors and stairways.

Duties

Cement masons typically do the following:

  • Set the forms that hold concrete in place
  • Install reinforcing rebar or mesh wire to strengthen the concrete
  • Signal truck drivers to facilitate the pouring of concrete
  • Spread, level, and smooth concrete, using a trowel, float, or screed
  • Mold expansion joints and edges
  • Monitor curing (hardening) to ensure a durable, smooth, and uniform finish
  • Apply sealants or waterproofing to protect concrete

Terrazzo workers typically do the following (in addition to what cement masons do):

  • Measure ingredients for terrazzo
  • Blend a marble chip mixture that may have colors in it 
  • Grind and polish surfaces for a smooth, lustrous look

Concrete is one of the most common and durable materials used in construction. Once set, concrete—a mixture of cement, sand, gravel, and water—becomes the foundation for everything from decorative patios and floors to huge dams or miles of roadways.

The following are examples of types of cement masons and terrazzo workers:

Cement masons and concrete finishers place and finish concrete. They may color concrete surfaces, expose aggregate (small stones) in walls and sidewalks, or make concrete beams, columns, and panels.

Throughout the process of pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete, cement masons must monitor how the wind, heat, or cold affects the curing of the concrete. They must have a thorough knowledge of the characteristics of concrete so that they can determine what is happening to the concrete and take measures to prevent defects.

Some small jobs may require the use of a supportive wire mesh called lath. On larger jobs, reinforcing iron and rebar workers install the reinforcing mesh.

Terrazzo workers and finishers create decorative walkways, floors, patios, and panels. Although much of the preliminary work in pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete is similar to that of cement masons, terrazzo workers create more decorative finishes by blending a fine marble chip into the epoxy or cement, which is often colored. Once the terrazzo is thoroughly set, workers correct any depressions or imperfections with a grinder to create a smooth, uniform finish. Terrazzo workers also install decorative toppings and/or polishing compounds to new or existing concrete.

Work Environment About this section

Cement mason and terrazzo workers
Cement masons spread concrete in forms for a floor.

Cement masons and terrazzo workers held about 144,300 jobs in 2012. About 90 percent were employed in the specialty trade contractors industry.

Concrete and terrazzo work is fast paced and strenuous. Because most of the work is done at floor level, workers often must bend and kneel. The work, either indoors or outdoors, may be in areas that are muddy, dusty, or dirty.

Injuries and Illnesses

Although the work is less dangerous than many other construction occupations, cement masons and terrazzo workers may experience chemical burns from uncured concrete, falls from scaffolding, and cuts from tools. To avoid injuries, workers wear protective gear, including kneepads, harnesses, and water-repellent boots.

Work Schedules

Most cement masons and terrazzo workers are employed full time.

About 5 percent were self-employed in 2012. Many of them can set their own schedule.

Because many cement and terrazzo jobs are outdoors, work generally stops in wet weather. Hours may also vary for other reasons, such as construction deadlines or coordination with other work activities.

How to Become a Cement Mason or Terrazzo Worker About this section

Cement mason and terrazzo workers
Concrete work is strenuous and often involves kneeling, bending, and reaching.

Although most cement masons and terrazzo workers learn on the job, some learn their trade through an apprenticeship.

Education

Although there are no specific education requirements for cement masons and concrete finishers, terrazzo workers usually must have a high school diploma. High school courses in math, mechanical drawing, and blueprint reading are considered to be helpful.

Training

Most on-the-job training programs consist of experienced workers teaching helpers to use the tools, equipment, machines, and materials of the trade. Trainees begin with tasks such as edging, jointing, and using a straightedge on freshly placed concrete. As training progresses, assignments become more complex and trainees can usually perform finishing tasks more quickly.

Some cement masons and most terrazzo workers learn their trade through a 3-year apprenticeship. Each year, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Apprentices learn construction basics such as blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices. Apprentices also learn about the wide variety of materials and additives that can change color or allow concrete to cure in different conditions.   

After completing an apprenticeship program, cement masons and terrazzo workers are considered to be journey workers, qualifying them to do tasks on their own. 

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Physically able to do the work

Some contractors have their own cement masonry or terrazzo training programs. Although workers may enter apprenticeships directly, many start out as construction laborers and helpers.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Terrazzo workers must determine small color variances when setting terrazzo patterns. Because these patterns often include many different colors, terrazzo workers must be able to distinguish between colors for the best looking finish.

Physical stamina. Cement masons and terrazzo workers must be able to spend a lot of time kneeling, bending, and reaching.

Physical strength. Cement masons and terrazzo workers often must lift heavy materials. For example, many jobs require workers to be able to lift and carry 50-pound bags of gravel and sand.

Pay About this section

Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers

Median annual wages, May 2012

Terrazzo workers and finishers

$39,740

Construction trades workers

$38,970

Cement masons and concrete finishers

$35,760

Total, all occupations

$34,750

 

The median annual wage for cement masons and concrete finishers was $35,760 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,380, and the top 10 percent earned more than $64,080.

The median annual wage for terrazzo workers and finishers was $39,740 in May 2012. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,050, and the top 10 percent earned more than $66,380.

The starting pay for apprentices usually is about 50 percent of what fully trained workers make. Apprentices receive pay increases as they learn to do more tasks.

Most cement masons and terrazzo workers are employed full time. About 5 percent are self-employed, many of whom have the ability to set their own schedule.

Because many jobs are outdoors, work generally stops in wet weather. Hours may also vary for other reasons, such as construction deadlines or coordination with other work activities.

Job Outlook About this section

Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Cement masons and concrete finishers

29%

Construction trades workers

22%

Terrazzo workers and finishers

20%

Total, all occupations

11%

 

Employment of cement masons and terrazzo workers is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Although employment growth will vary by specialty, both specialties’ growth will depend on the number of commercial, public, and civil construction projects such as new roads, bridges, and buildings.

Employment of cement masons and concrete finishers is projected to grow 29 percent, much faster than the average for all occupations. More cement masons will be needed to build and renovate highways, bridges, factories, and residential structures to meet the demands of a growing population and aging infrastructure.

The use of concrete for buildings is increasing because its strength is an important asset in areas prone to severe weather. For example, residential construction projects in Florida are using more concrete as building requirements change in reaction to the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes. The use of concrete is likely to expand into other hurricane-prone areas as the durability of Florida homes built with concrete becomes more established.

Employment of terrazzo workers and finishers is projected to grow 20 percent, faster than the average for all occupations. However, because it is a small occupation, the fast growth will result in only about 700 new jobs over the 10-year period. Terrazzo is a durable and attractive flooring option that is often used in schools, government buildings, and hospitals. The construction and renovation of such buildings will spur demand for these workers. However, because polished concrete is similar to terrazzo and usually less expensive, this may limit the need for terrazzo workers.

Job Prospects

Overall job opportunities for cement masons and terrazzo workers are expected to be good, particularly for those with more experience and skills. Applicants who take masonry-related courses at technical schools may have the best job opportunities. Employers also prefer candidates who are experienced in polished concrete.

As with many other construction workers, employment of cement masons and terrazzo workers is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.

Employment projections data for cement masons and terrazzo workers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Cement masons and terrazzo workers

144,300 186,100 29 41,700

Cement masons and concrete finishers

47-2051 140,800 181,800 29 41,000 [XLS]

Terrazzo workers and finishers

47-2053 3,500 4,200 20 700 [XLS]

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of cement masons and terrazzo workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2012 MEDIAN PAY Help
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons

Brickmasons, Blockmasons, and Stonemasons

Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons (or, simply, masons) use bricks, concrete blocks, and natural and man-made stones to build fences, walkways, walls, and other structures.

High school diploma or equivalent $44,950
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboards to walls and ceilings and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboards for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers do both installing and taping.

Less than high school $37,920
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many basic tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $29,160
Tile and marble setters

Tile and Marble Setters

Tile and marble setters apply hard tile and marble to walls, floors, and other surfaces.

Less than high school $37,040

Contacts for More Information About this section

For information about apprenticeships or job opportunities as a cement mason or terrazzo worker, contact local cement or terrazzo contractors, a local joint union-management apprenticeship committee, or the nearest office of your state employment service or apprenticeship agency. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s toll-free help line, 1 (877) 872-5627, or Employment and Training Administration.

For general information about cement masons and terrazzo workers, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors

Associated General Contractors of America

International Masonry Institute

NCCER

National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association

Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association 

For more information about careers and training as a mason, visit

Mason Contractors Association of America

O*NET

Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers

Terrazzo Workers and Finishers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Cement Masons and Terrazzo Workers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/cement-mason-and-terrazzo-workers.htm (visited November 25, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014