Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Summary

drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers image
Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings.
Quick Facts: Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers
2014 Median Pay $38,970 per year
$18.73 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 127,000
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 6,600

What Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers Do

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

Work Environment

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, work indoors. As in many other construction trades, the work is physically demanding. Workers spend most of the day standing, bending, or reaching, and they often must lift and maneuver heavy, oversized wallboard.

How to Become a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer, or Taper

Most drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, learn their trade on the job.  A formal educational credential is typically not required to enter the occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers was $38,970 in May 2014.

Job Outlook

Employment of drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Workers with a good employment history and experience in construction should have the best job opportunities.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers Do

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, work with many different types of tools.

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

Duties

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, typically do the following:

  • Review design plans to minimize the number of cuts and waste of wallboard
  • Determine the precise locations of electrical outlets, plumbing, and windows
  • Cut drywall or ceiling tiles to the right size, using utility knives and power saws
  • Fasten panels and tiles, using cement adhesive, nails, screws, or clips
  • Patch, trim, and smooth rough spots and edges
  • Apply tape and sealing compound to cover joints between wallboards
  • Add coats of sealing compound to create an even surface
  • Sand all joints and holes to a smooth, seamless finish

Drywall is the most commonly used interior wall covering. The ability to use a wide variety of finishes over properly prepared drywall, as well as low installation costs, drive its popularity. In addition to covering insulation, electrical wires, and plumbing pipes, drywall dampens sound and provides fire resistance.

To hang and prepare ceilings, workers may use mechanical lifts or stand on stilts, ladders, or scaffolds. Once wallboards are hung, workers use progressively wider trowels to spread multiple coats of sealing compound over cracks, indentations, and any remaining imperfections. Some workers may use a mechanical applicator, a tool that spreads sealing compound on the wall joint while dispensing and setting tape at the same time.

Drywall installers are also called drywallers or hangers. They cut and hang the panels of wallboard.

Ceiling tile installers hang ceiling tiles and create suspended ceilings. Tiles may be applied directly to the ceiling, attached to furring strips, or suspended on runners that are connected by wire to the ceiling. Workers are sometimes called acoustical carpenters, because they also install tiles that block sound.

Tapers are also called finishers, because they prepare the drywall for covering by plaster, paint, and wallpaper. Tapers apply paper or fiberglass mesh tape to cover drywall seams.

In addition to performing new installations, many installers and tapers make repairs such as fixing damaged drywall and replacing ceiling tiles. The wall coverings applied to the finished drywall are installed by painters, plasterers, and paperhangers.

Work Environment

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers
Tapers cover the seams where drywall edges meet.

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, held about 127,000 jobs in 2014, of which 66 percent worked in the drywall and insulation contractors industry. About 1 in 5 were self-employed in 2014.

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, work indoors. As in many other construction trades, the work is physically demanding. Workers spend most of the day standing, bending, or reaching, and they must often lift and maneuver heavy, oversized wallboard.

Because the work creates a lot of dust, which irritates the skin, eyes, and lungs, workers may wear protective masks, goggles, and gloves. Common injuries falls from ladders or stilts, cuts from sharp tools, and muscle strains from lifting heavy materials.

Work Schedules

Most drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, work full time. 

About 1 in 5 were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed installers and tapers may be able to set their own schedule.

How to Become a Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installer, or Taper

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers
New drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, typically learn their job by working with more experienced workers.

Most drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, learn their trade on the job.  A formal educational credential is typically not required to enter the occupation.

Education

Although there are no education requirements for becoming a drywall and ceiling tile installers, or taper, high school math and vocational technical courses are considered useful.

Training

Most drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, learn their trade on the job by helping more experienced workers and gradually being given more duties. They start by carrying materials and cleaning up, and then learn to use the tools of the trade. They also learn to measure, cut, and install or apply materials. Employers usually provide some on-the-job training, lasting up to 12 months. 

A few drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical work and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. During training, apprentices learn construction basics related to blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices.

A few groups, including the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering such a program are as follows:

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

After completing an apprenticeship program, they are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own. 

Important Qualities

Balance. Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, often wear stilts. They must be able to move around and use tools overhead without falling.

Math skills. Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, use math skills for measurement on every job. For example, they must be able to estimate the quantity of materials needed and measure accurately when cutting panels.

Physical stamina. Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, constantly lift and move heavy materials into place, so workers should be in good physical shape.

Physical strength. Drywall and ceiling tile installers must often lift heavy panels over their heads to secure onto the ceiling.

Pay

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Median annual wages, May 2014

Tapers

$46,630

Construction trades workers

$40,150

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

$38,970

Drywall and ceiling tile installers

$38,100

Total, all occupations

$35,540

 

The median annual wage for drywall and ceiling tile installers was $38,100 in May 2014. 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 $25,360, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $75,570.

The median annual wage for tapers was $46,630 in May 2014. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,750, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $85,500.

The starting wage for apprentices is usually between 40 percent and 50 percent of what fully trained drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers make. As apprentices learn to do more, they receive pay increases.

Most drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, work full time.

About 1 in 5 were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed installers and tapers may be able to set their own schedule.

Job Outlook

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Construction trades workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Drywall and ceiling tile installers

5%

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

5%

Tapers

5%

 

Employment of drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Drywall is, and will continue to be, the most common interior wall covering in nearly every building. As a result, new residential and commercial building construction will drive demand for workers. Home-remodeling projects are also expected to create jobs, because existing homes and other buildings will require improvements.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, are expected to be good as building construction and remodeling activity continue to grow. As with many other construction workers, employment is sensitive to fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, these 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. 

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, with a good employment history and experience in the construction industry should have the best job opportunities.

Employment projections data for drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers

127,000 133,600 5 6,600

Drywall and ceiling tile installers

47-2081 106,000 111,500 5 5,500 [XLSX]

Tapers

47-2082 21,000 22,100 5 1,100 [XLSX]

State & Area Data

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2014 MEDIAN PAY
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons

Masonry Workers

Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete blocks, concrete, and natural and manmade stones to build walls, walkways, fences, and other masonry structures.

See How to Become One $38,720
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct and repair building frameworks and structures—such as stairways, doorframes, partitions, rafters, and bridge supports—made from wood and other materials. They also may install kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.

High school diploma or equivalent $40,820
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

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

See How to Become One $30,190
Painters, construction and maintenance

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures.

No formal educational credential $35,950
Tile and marble setters

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

No formal educational credential $37,380
Insulation workers

Insulation Workers

Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings to help control and maintain the temperatures in buildings.

See How to Become One $37,790

Contacts for More Information

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this trade, contact the offices of the state employment service; the state apprenticeship agency; local contractors or firms that employ drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers; or local union–management finishing trade apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor's ApprenticeshipUSA program online or by phone at 877-872-5627.

For more information about drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.

Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry

Finishing Trades Institute

National Association of Home Builders

NCCER

United Brotherhood of Carpenters

O*NET

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers

Tapers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/drywall-and-ceiling-tile-installers-and-tapers.htm (visited February 12, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015