How to Advance (Advancement)
With additional training, cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, or terrazzo workers may become supervisors for masonry contractors or move into construction management, building inspection, or contract estimation. Certification programs offered through the National Concrete Masonry Association may allow workers to advance more quickly as they document higher levels of skill in working with concrete. Some workers eventually become owners of businesses, where they may spend most of their time managing rather than practicing their original trade. For those who want to own their own business, taking business classes will help to prepare.
Cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers held about 207,800 jobs in 2008; segmental pavers and terrazzo workers accounted for only a small portion of the total. Most cement masons and concrete finishers worked for specialty trade contractors, primarily foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors. They also worked for contractors in nonresidential and residential building construction and in heavy and civil engineering construction on projects such as highways, bridges, shopping malls, or large buildings such as factories, schools, and hospitals. A small number were employed by firms that manufacture concrete products. Most segmental pavers and terrazzo workers worked for specialty trade contractors who install decorative floors and wall panels.
Only about 5 percent of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers were self-employed, a smaller proportion than in other building trades. Most self-employed masons specialize in small jobs, such as driveways, sidewalks, and patios.
Average employment growth is expected, and job prospects are expected to be good, especially for those with the most experience and skills.
Employment of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers is expected to grow approximately 13 percent over the 2008–18 decade, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Over the long run, more workers will likely be needed to build new highways, bridges, factories, and other residential and nonresidential structures to meet the demands of a growing population. Additionally, cement masons will be needed to repair and renovate existing highways and bridges and other aging structures. Additional funds for these projects are expected to come from the Federal Government, which plans to spend money on construction to stimulate the national economy by addressing necessary infrastructure repairs and renovating schools and other government buildings.
The use of concrete for buildings is increasing because its strength is an important asset in areas prone to severe weather. For example, residential construction in Florida is using more concrete as building requirements are changed in reaction to the increased frequency and intensity of hurricanes. Concrete use is likely to expand into other hurricane-prone areas as the durability of the Florida homes is demonstrated.
Opportunities for cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers are expected to be good, particularly for those with the most experience and skills. Employers report difficulty in finding workers with the right skills, as many qualified jobseekers often prefer work that is less strenuous and has more comfortable working conditions. There are also expected to be a significant number of retirements over the next decade, which will create more job openings. Applicants who take masonry-related courses at technical schools will have better opportunities than those without these courses.
Employment of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers, like that of many other construction workers, 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.
In May 2008, the median hourly wage of cement masons and concrete finishers was $16.87. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.46 and $22.71. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $11.02, and the top 10 percent earned more than $30.30.
In May 2008, the median hourly wage of terrazzo workers and finishers was $17.25. The middle 50 percent earned between $13.65 and $23.12. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $10.82, and the top 10 percent earned more than $30.12.
In May 2008, the median hourly wage of segmental pavers was $13.17. The middle 50 percent earned between $10.77 and $16.41. The bottom 10 percent earned less than $9.14, and the top 10 percent earned more than $19.33.
Like other construction trades workers who are paid by the hour, earnings of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers may be reduced on occasion because poor weather and slowdowns in construction activity limit the amount of time they can work. Nonunion workers generally have lower wage rates than union workers. Apprentices usually start at 50 to 60 percent of the rate paid to experienced workers, and increases are generally achieved by meeting specified advancement requirements every 6 months. Cement masons often work overtime, with premium pay, because once concrete has been placed, the job must be completed.
About 14 percent of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers belong to unions, the largest of which are the Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association of the United States and Canada, and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. A few terrazzo workers belong to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of the United States.
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