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Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, Tapers, Plasterers, and Stucco Masons - What They Do


How to Advance (Advancement)
Some organizations related to masonry trades offer training and certification intended to enhance the skills of their members. For example, the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers International Masonry Institute confers designations in several areas of specialization, including one for plastering. Candidates who complete a 12-week certification program can earn a designation as a “journey level plasterer” by passing a competency-based exam. Experienced candidates can become trainers and earn a designation as “Certified Instructor or Journeyworkers and Apprentices in the Trowel Trades.”

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, tapers, plasterers, and stucco masons may advance to supervisor or general construction supervisor positions. However, it is increasingly important to be able to communicate in both English and Spanish in order to relay instructions and safety precautions to workers with limited understanding of English because Spanish-speaking workers make up a large part of the construction workforce in many areas. Knowing English well also makes it easier to advance. Many workers become independent contractors. Others become building inspectors.

Employment
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, tapers, plasterers, and stucco masons held about 237,700 jobs in 2008. About 19 percent were self-employed independent contractors. Most workers are employed in populous areas. In other areas, where there may not be enough work to keep them employed full time, carpenters and painters usually do the work.

Job Outlook
Employment of drywall and ceiling tile installers, tapers, plasterers, and stucco masons is expected to grow about as fast as average for all occupations. Job growth, however, will differ among the individual occupations in this category. Good job prospects are expected overall.


Job Growth
Overall employment is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2008 and 2018. Employment of drywall and ceiling tile installers—the largest specialty—is expected to grow 14 percent, reflecting growth of new construction and remodeling projects. New residential construction projects are expected to provide the majority of jobs during the projection decade, but home improvement and renovation projects are also expected to create jobs because existing residential and nonresidential buildings are getting old and need repair.

Employment of tapers is expected to grow 13 percent, which is as fast as the average. Demand for tapers, which often mirrors demand for drywall installers, also will be driven by the overall growth of construction activity.

Employment of plasterers and stucco masons, on the other hand, is expected to grow 7 percent. Despite an increased appreciation for the attractiveness and durability that plaster provides, growing use of cheaper and easier to install alternatives, such as drywall, will impede employment growth for these workers. Nonetheless, stucco masons will experience some employment growth due to demand for new polymer-based exterior insulating finishes that are gaining popularity, particularly in the South and Southwest regions of the country.

Job opportunities for drywall and ceiling tile installers, tapers, plasterers, and stucco masons are expected to be good overall. Many potential workers are not attracted to this occupation because they prefer work that is less strenuous and has more comfortable working conditions. Experienced workers will have especially favorable opportunities.

Besides opportunities resulting from job growth, many drywall and ceiling tile installer and taper jobs will open up each year because of the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force. Skilled, experienced plasterers with artistic ability should have excellent opportunities, especially with restoration projects. Decorative custom finishes, expensive homes, and large-scale restoration projects will further result in opportunities for plasterers in the Northeast, particularly in urban areas. For stucco masons, the best employment opportunities should continue to be in Florida, California, and the Southwest, where the use of stucco is expected to remain popular.

Like many other construction workers, employment in these occupations is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. Workers in these trades may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of these workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.

Earnings
The median hourly wages of wage and salary drywall and ceiling tile installers were $18.12 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.23 and $23.80. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $11.64, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $31.72.

Median hourly wages of wage and salary tapers were $21.03 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $15.45 and $28.27. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.62, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $34.91.

Median hourly wages of wage and salary plasterers and stucco masons were $18.01 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $14.36 and $22.94. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.01, and the top 10 percent earned more than $29.59.

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Academic Programs of Interest

Drywall Finisher
A Drywall Finisher Program teaches a student how to prepare, tape, fill and sand all seams, corners and angles. A student will learn how to apply beading, texture, and finish edges. He/She will also be well versed in filling compounds, job estimating, and repairing holes and other damaged portions of ...more
Tilesetter
The Tilesetter program is designed to teach a student how to prepare bases, including waterproof membranes, metal lath and fasteners, back-up materials pertaining to tile, mixing and use of cement motars. A student will learn how to apply vitreous tile, quarry tile, ceramic tile, terrazzo tile, quartzite ...more