Tile Setter

Tile Setter Career Info

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Education Required A high school diploma or equivalent; optional apprenticeship
Certification Voluntary but helpful for advancement
Key Skills Customer service and time management skills; experience with a variety of tools, including floats, levels, and power saws; may need experience with computer-aided design (CAD), cost estimating, and project management software; endurance and strength needed to perform repetitive bending and lifting movements
Salary $38,230 (2015 median for all flooring installers and tile and marble setters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, O*Net OnLine

Tile setters, also known asĀ tile installers, lay tile in homes and buildings, including the floors in bathrooms and kitchens. Laying tile requires applying adhesive to sub flooring, walls and other surfaces, as well as cutting the tile to fit the designated area. Protective gear for eyes and knees may be necessary to prevent injuries from airborne particles and hours spent kneeling on the job. Tile setters should have customer service and time management skills as well as experience with computer-aided design, cost estimating and project management software.

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that flooring installers and tile and marble setters in this country earned a median annual salary of $38,230.

Work as an Apprentice

Though some individuals learn their trade by working as helpers to experienced tile setters, a common path to start this career is a formal apprenticeship. Apprenticeship programs are available through community and technical colleges and are sponsored by unions and contractor organizations. In order to be considered for admission into an apprenticeship program, an individual must be at least 18 years old, possess a high school diploma or equivalent and have the ability to perform the job.

Apprenticeships last approximately 2-4 years and include 144 hours per year of technical training and 2000 hours per year of on-the-job work experience. These programs provide paid work to aspiring tile setters. By the end of their training, tile setters are able to handle a wide variety of tiling jobs on their own. After completing an apprenticeship, a tile setter can assume the title of ‘journey worker’ and begin to work independently.

Tile setters must have solid customer service skills since they perform work in residences and must provide a service that meets clients’ expectations. Apprentices can hone these interpersonal skills by learning how to effectively communicate with others, work collaboratively and practice active listening during their training programs.

Earn Professional Certification

Though certification is not required to work as a tile setter, industry certification shows that workers are trained and knowledgeable in tile installation. The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) offers a certification program for tile setters with two years of experience in lead or supervisory roles. Applicants can earn the designation of Certified Tile Installer (CTI) after successfully completing both a multiple-choice and a practical examination.

Tile setters may earn the Ceramic Tile Specialist (CTS), Ceramic Tile Installer (CTI) or Ceramic Tile Consultant (CTC) credential. Each designation has its own requirements; generally, completion of relevant online courses and passage of examinations are necessary.

Join Professional Organization

Individuals may choose to join an association devoted to their trade. One such organization is the National Tile Contractors Association. Members enjoy benefits such as industry reference materials, newsletters, workshops, regional training and a membership directory.

Once again, aspiring tile setters should find work as an apprentice, generally after gaining 2-4 years of experience on the job. They can earn professional certification and work on their own.


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