Plasterers work in the building and construction industry, and their services are often put into use during the later stages of a building project. They apply plaster onto the surface of walls, ceilings and floors. This career is suitable for people with an aptitude for practical work and little postsecondary training.
See Also: How to Become a Building Technician in the US
1. What Do Plasterers Do?
The work of plasterers involves:
- Reading building blueprints to determine the amount of work to be done, calculating the quantity of materials needed for the job, and estimating plastering costs
- Mixing plaster (which is manufactured as a dry powder) with water and mortar to ready it for application
- Measuring and marking the surfaces to be plastered
- Using trowels and other specialized tools to apply the plaster onto the walls – Usually, three coats of plaster are applied to a surface, but this may vary depending on project specifications
- Creating decorative textures on the plastered surfaces; they can also install ornamental plaster pieces
- Re-plastering damaged walls – This involves scrapping off the existing plaster and readying the surface for a new coat
As a plasterer, you may choose to specialize in finishing or applying the base coats.
2. Work Environment
Many building projects are executed during the day, so plasterers work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. Overtime and weekend work is also very common.
The job is physically demanding, as the plasterers are mostly on their feet standing, lifting or bending. While at work, plasterers wear hardhats and other pieces of protective equipment to avoid workplace injuries. The immediate work environment is dirty and dusty.
According to PayScale, plasterers earn between $27,357 and $80,531 annually.
4. Entry Requirements
You only need a high school diploma to qualify for employment. Building and construction companies typically hire high school graduates who are physically strong and train them on the job. Training lasts between two to five years. During this period, you will learn the trade from veteran plasterers.
You can also get started through a formal apprenticeship program that combines classroom instruction and on-the-job training. Some of the concepts you will learn include:
- Cement pouring and finishing
- Blueprint reading
- Estimating for the concrete trade
- Interior and exterior basecoat
Here are some of the institutions offering the program:
- GateWay Community College, Arizona
- York College, New York
- South Seattle College, Washington
Some states, such as Wisconsin and Washington, also have formal apprenticeship training programs for aspiring plasterers. Be sure to check whether your state has such a program.
5. Important Qualities
To be a competent plasterer, you need:
- Blueprint reading skills
- Manual dexterity
- Physical stamina to endure the physical tasks
- Good math skills
- Time management skills
- Good estimation skills
- Good eye-hand coordination
- Good teamwork skills
- Good communication skills
- Normal visual ability
- Basic knowledge of construction methods
- An awareness of occupational health and safety practices
- The ability to follow technical instructions closely
6. Career Advancement
Once you find paid employment, focus on gaining several years of plastering experience. This is the best way to find higher paying gigs.
You should also join the National Plasterers Council to network with other plasterers, secure invitations to industry events, and access technical bulletins and industry newsletters.
If you are ambitious enough, pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in construction science or building construction management.
7. Job Opportunities
The employers of plasterers include:
- Building finishing contractors
- Residential and nonresidential building construction companies
- Local authorities
- Suppliers of plastering equipment
With vast plastering experience, you can advance to become a site supervisor or lead plasterer. A degree in construction will significantly enhance your chances of becoming a construction manager.
Some experienced plasterers also move into self-employment and become plastering contractors.
In general, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of construction workers will increase by 12 percent (slightly faster than the 11 percent national average growth for all jobs).
So, if you can work quickly with your hands, and you fancy a job in construction, maybe you can become a plasterer.