How to Become a Tile and Marble Setter
These workers may grout tile in a shower.
Although some tile and marble setters learn their trade through an apprenticeship, most learn on the job, starting as a helper.
There are no specific education requirements to become a tile and marble setter.
Some 2-year technical schools offer courses that are affiliated with unions and contractor organizations. The credits earned as part of an apprenticeship program usually count toward an associate’s degree.
Some contractors have their own training programs for tile and marble setters. New workers typically learn by working with experienced installers. Although workers may enter training directly, many first start out as helpers.
Helpers usually start by performing simple tasks, such as moving materials. As they gain experience, they are given more complex tasks, such as cutting tile. Some helpers become tile finishers.
Some tile and marble setters learn their trade through a 2- to 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must complete at least 144 hours of related technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Tile and marble setters begin with 12 weeks of pre-apprenticeship instruction at a training center to learn construction basics. This may include mathematics, building code requirements, safety and first-aid practices, and blueprint reading.
After completing an apprenticeship program, tile and marble setters are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties 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 perform the work
Some manufacturers offer product-specific training for tile and marble setters. In addition, some installers attend conferences that offer training sessions.
Color vision. Setting tile often involves determining small color variations. Because tile patterns may include many different colors, tile setters must be able to distinguish between colors and patterns for the best-looking finish.
Customer-service skills. Working in customers’ homes is common. Therefore, tile and marble setters must be courteous and considerate of a customer’s property while completing tasks.
Detail oriented. Some tile arrangements can be highly detailed and artistic, so workers must ensure that the patterns are properly and accurately arranged.
Math skills. Basic math skills are used on every job. Besides measuring the area to be tiled, installers must calculate the number of tiles needed to cover an area.
Physical stamina. Tile and marble setters must have the endurance to spend many hours on their feet. When setting tile or marble, installers also may be on their knees for hours at a time.
Physical strength. Some marble setters must be strong enough to carry and lift heavy marble countertops into position.