Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Summary

Tile and marble setters
Floor sanders and finishers must remove old stain before applying the new coats.
Quick Facts: Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters
2015 Median Pay $38,230 per year
$18.38 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training See How to Become One
Number of Jobs, 2014 125,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 5% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 5,900

What Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters Do

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

Work Environment

Installing flooring, tile, and marble is physically demanding, with workers spending much of their time reaching, bending, and kneeling. Those in commercial settings may work evenings and weekends.

How to Become a Flooring Installer or Tile and Marble Setter

Although some flooring installers and tile and marble setters learn their trade through an apprenticeship, most learn on the job, sometimes starting as a helper.

Pay

The median annual wage for flooring installers and tile and marble setters was $38,230 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of flooring installers and tile and marble setters is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. The replacement of older floors, coupled with population and business growth, will drive demand for more workers. Overall job prospects should be best for workers who can install a wide variety of floors.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for flooring installers and tile and marble setters.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of flooring installers and tile and marble setters with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about flooring installers and tile and marble setters by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters Do About this section

Tile and marble setters
Some tile and marble setters create intricate designs.

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay and finish carpet, wood, vinyl, and tile.

Duties

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters typically do the following:

  • Remove existing flooring or wall covering
  • Clean and level the surface to be covered
  • Measure the area and cut flooring material to fit
  • Arrange flooring according to design plans
  • Place flooring, using adhesives, nails, or staples
  • Fill joints with filler compound and remove excess compound
  • Trim excess carpet or linoleum
  • Apply necessary finishes, such as sealants and stains

Nearly every building has a finished floor, and flooring installers and tile and marble setters lay the materials that improve the look and feel of homes, offices, restaurants, and other buildings. Although most of the materials installed by these workers cover only floors, some materials are also installed on walls and countertops or in showers.

A smooth, even base of mortar or plywood is required in order for floors and tile to be installed. The base may be installed by flooring installers and tile and marble setters or by other construction craftworkers. When remodeling, workers may need to remove the old flooring and smooth the surface.

Carpet installers lay lengths of carpet on new floors or over older flooring. They use special tools, including “knee kickers,” to position the carpet and power stretchers to pull the carpet snugly against walls. Carpet seams are joined with special heat-activated tape.

Carpet tile installers lay small, modular pieces of carpet that may be glued into place. Carpet tiles allow for easy replacement and design patterns that are not possible with standard carpet.

Floor sanders and finishers perform the final steps in hardwood floor installation. After carpenters install the hardwood floor, workers use power sanders to smooth it. They apply stains and sealants to preserve the wood.

Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles, install a wide variety of resilient flooring materials. Linoleum installers lay the hard, washable floor material of the same name. The linoleum is cut to size and glued into place. Vinyl installers install plastic-based flooring that includes vinyl ester, vinyl sheeting, and luxury vinyl tile. Installers of laminate, manufactured wood, and wood tile floors are included in this category.

Tile and marble setters install ceramic and marble tile. Tile installers, sometimes called tile setters, cut and place tile. To cut tiles, workers use wet saws, tile scribes, or handheld tile cutters to create even edges. They use trowels of different sizes to spread mortar or a sticky paste, called mastic, evenly on the surface to be tiled. To minimize imperfections and keep rows even, they put spacers between tiles. Spacers keep tiles the same distance from each other until the mortar is dry. Tile finishers apply grout between tiles after the tiles are set, using a rubber trowel which is called a float. When the grout dries, they must wipe the tiles for a clean, finished look. Marble setters cut marble to a specified size with a wet saw. After fastening the stone, marble setters polish the marble to a high luster, using hand or power sanders.

Work Environment About this section

Tile and marble setters
Carpet installers spend a lot of time kneeling when stretching carpet.

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters held about 125,400 jobs in 2014. Approximately 41 percent of them were employed in the building finishing contractors industry. About 4 in 10 were self-employed.

Employment in the detailed occupations that make up the occupation of flooring installers and tile and marble setters in 2014 was distributed as follows:

Tile and marble setters  55,100
Carpet installers  45,300
Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles  17,100
Floor sanders and finishers  7,900

Flooring and tile are usually installed after most of the construction has been completed, so the work area is typically clean and uncluttered, although some materials and tasks may be messy.

Installing flooring, tile, and marble is physically demanding, with workers spending much of their time reaching, bending, and kneeling. As a result, workers typically wear kneepads for protection. Workers also wear safety goggles when using grinders, saws, and sanders. In enclosed areas with poor access to ventilation, workers often use dust masks or respirator systems to prevent the inhalation of dust. Dust is generated from cutting tiles and from sanding adhesives and mortars.

Work Schedules

Most flooring installers and tile and marble setters work full time. In commercial settings, installers may work evenings and weekends, often for higher wages, to avoid disturbing regular business operations.

About 4 in 10 flooring installers and tile and marble setters were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed workers may have the ability to set their own schedules.

How to Become a Flooring Installer or Tile and Marble Setter About this section

Tile and marble setters
Most flooring installers and tile and marble setters learn on the job working with experienced installers.

Although some flooring installers and tile and marble setters learn their trade through an apprenticeship, most learn on the job, sometimes starting as a helper.

Education

There are no specific education requirements for someone to become a flooring installer or tile and marble setter. A high school diploma or equivalent is preferred for those entering an apprenticeship program.

High school art, math, and vocational courses are considered helpful for flooring installers and tile and marble setters.

Training

Most contractors have their own training programs for flooring installers and tile and marble setters. New workers typically learn by working with experienced installers. Although workers may enter training directly, many start out as helpers

New workers usually start by performing simple tasks, such as moving materials. As they gain experience, they are given more complex tasks, such as cutting carpet. Some tile installer helpers become tile finishers before becoming tile installers.

Some flooring installers and 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. Some of these programs now include online training. Many new workers begin with 12 weeks of preapprenticeship instruction at a training center to learn construction basics. This instruction may include mathematics, building code requirements, safety and first-aid practices, and blueprint reading.

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

After completing an apprenticeship program, flooring installers and tile and marble setters are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own. 

Some flooring manufacturers offer product-specific training for their products. In addition, some installers attend conferences that offer training sessions in various flooring materials.

Certification

The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) offers the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) certification for workers with 2 or more years of experience. Applicants are required to complete a written test and a hands-on performance evaluation.

Several groups, including the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, the International Masonry Institute (IMI), the International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), the National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA), the Tile Contractors’ Association of America (TCAA), and the Tile Council of North America (TCNA) have created the Advanced Certifications for Tile Installers (ACT) program. Certification requirements include passing both an exam and a field test. Workers must also have either completed a qualified apprenticeship program or earned the CTI certification to qualify for testing. The program offers certifications in five specific areas of tile installation:

  • Large-format tile and substrate preparation
  • Membranes
  • Mortar (mud) floors
  • Mortar (mud) walls
  • Shower receptors

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) has a voluntary certification for floor sanders and finishers. Sanders and finishers must have 2 years of experience and must have completed NWFA-approved training. Applicants are also required to complete written and performance tests.

The International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association (CFI) offers certification for flooring and tile installers. Installers need 2 years of experience before they can take the written test and a hands-on performance evaluation.

The International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) offers a comprehensive flooring certification program for flooring and tile installers. INSTALL certification requires 4 years of classroom and hands-on training, and covers all major types of flooring.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters often need to determine small color variations. Because tile patterns may include many different colors, workers must be able to distinguish among colors and among patterns for the best looking finish. 

Customer-service skills. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters commonly work in customers’ homes. Therefore, workers must be courteous and considerate of a customer’s property while completing tasks.

Detail oriented. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters need to plan and lay out materials. Some carpet patterns can be highly detailed and artistic, so workers must ensure that the patterns are properly and accurately aligned.

Math skills. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters use measurement-related math skills on every job. Besides measuring the area to be covered, workers must calculate the number of carpet tiles needed to cover that area.

Physical stamina. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters must have the endurance to stand or kneel for many hours. Workers need to spread adhesives quickly and place tile on floors before the adhesives harden.

Physical strength. Flooring installers and tile and marble setters need to lift and carry heavy materials. Workers must be strong enough to lift, carry, and set heavy pieces of marble into position.

Pay About this section

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Median annual wages, May 2015

Construction trades workers

$41,020

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters

$38,230

Total, all occupations

$36,200

 

The median annual wage for flooring installers and tile and marble setters was $38,230 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $22,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $72,530.

Median annual wages for flooring installers and tile and marble setters in May 2015 were as follows:

Tile and marble setters $39,400
Carpet installers 37,220
Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles 37,030
Floor sanders and finishers 36,930

The starting pay for apprentices usually is about 50 percent of what fully trained flooring installers and tile and marble setters make. Apprentices receive pay increases as they gain experience.

Some flooring installers and tile and marble setters are paid per square yard of material installed. The rates vary by industry and type of flooring.

Most flooring installers and tile and marble setters work full time. In commercial settings, installers may work evenings and weekends, often for higher wages, to avoid disturbing regular business operations.

About 4 in 10 flooring installers and tile and marble setters were self-employed in 2014. Self-employed workers may have the ability to set their own schedule.

Job Outlook About this section

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Construction trades workers

10%

Total, all occupations

7%

Flooring installers and tile and marble setters

5%

 

Employment of flooring installers and tile and marble setters is projected to grow 5 percent from 2014 to 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Employment growth of specific types of flooring and tile and marble installers is expected to vary (see table below). The majority of flooring and tile and marble installation work is expected to be in remodeling and replacement. Population and business growth, coupled with the popularity of some new resilient floor material, will be the major source of demand for workers. Although carpet is still the dominant flooring, other products are growing in popularity, which is why the employment of the other flooring installer occupations are projected to grow faster than carpet installers. Tile and marble will continue to be commonly installed in bathrooms, shopping malls, and restaurants, as well as in other commercial and government buildings. 

Job Prospects

Overall job prospects should be good over the coming decade as high turnover and new building construction will create job opportunities for flooring installers and tile and marble setters. Experienced workers with a good employment history who are able to install multiple types of floors will have the best employment opportunities.

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

Employment projections data for flooring installers and tile and marble setters, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers

47-2040 125,400 131,300 5 5,900 [XLSX]

Carpet installers

47-2041 45,300 45,100 -1 -200 [XLSX]

Floor layers, except carpet, wood, and hard tiles

47-2042 17,100 19,200 12 2,100 [XLSX]

Floor sanders and finishers

47-2043 7,900 8,400 6 500 [XLSX]

Tile and marble setters

47-2044 55,100 58,700 6 3,500 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of flooring installers and tile and marble setters.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct and repair building frameworks and structures—such as stairways, doorframes, partitions, rafters, and bridge supports—made from wood and other materials. They also may install kitchen cabinets, siding, and drywall.

High school diploma or equivalent $42,090
Construction laborers and helpers

Construction Laborers and Helpers

Construction laborers and helpers perform many tasks that require physical labor on construction sites.

See How to Become One $30,890
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting, using tape and other materials. Many workers both install and tape wallboard.

No formal educational credential $40,470
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons

Masonry Workers

Masonry workers, also known as masons, use bricks, concrete blocks, concrete, and natural and manmade stones to build walls, walkways, fences, and other masonry structures.

See How to Become One $39,640
Painters, construction and maintenance

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

Painters apply paint, stain, and coatings to walls and ceilings, buildings, bridges, and other structures.

No formal educational credential $36,580
Roofers

Roofers

Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings using a variety of materials, including shingles, bitumen, and metal.

No formal educational credential $36,720

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships, training, or other work opportunities in this trade, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors or firms that employ flooring installers and tile and marble setters, or local union–management apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor's ApprenticeshipUSA program online or by phone at 877-872-5627.

For more information about flooring installers and tile and marble setters, visit

Ceramic Tile Education Foundation

International Masonry Institute

International Union of Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers

Tile Contractors’ Association of America

The Tile Council of North America, Inc.

Home Builders Institute

For more information about training and certification of flooring installers and tile and marble setters, visit

International Certified Floorcovering Installers Association

Finishing Trades Institute International

International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL)

National Tile Contractors Association

National Wood Flooring Association

O*NET

Carpet Installers

Floor Layers, Except Carpet, Wood, and Hard Tiles

Floor Sanders and Finishers

Tile and Marble Setters

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/tile-and-marble-setters.htm (visited September 28, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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State & Area Data

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2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.