How to Become a Flooring Installer or Tile and Stone Setter
Most flooring installers and tile and stone setters learn on the job working with experienced installers.
Flooring installers and tile and stone setters typically need no formal educational credential. They learn their trade on the job, sometimes starting as a helper. Some learn through an apprenticeship.
There are typically no formal education requirements for becoming a flooring installer or tile and stone setter, although candidates entering an apprenticeship program may need a high school diploma or equivalent.
Certain high school courses, such as art and math, may be helpful for flooring installers and tile and stone setters.
Flooring installers and tile and stone setters typically learn on the job, working with experienced installers or starting as helpers.
New workers usually do simple tasks, such as moving materials. As they gain experience, they take on more complex tasks, such as cutting carpet. Some helpers work as tile finishers before becoming tile installers.
Some flooring installers and tile and stone setters learn their trade through a 2- to 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of a typical program, apprentices must complete a predetermined number of hours of technical instruction and paid on-the-job training. Technical instruction in the apprenticeship may include mathematics, building code requirements, safety and first-aid practices, and blueprint reading. After completing an apprenticeship program, flooring installers and tile and stone setters are considered journey workers and may perform duties on their own.
Several organizations offer certification for floor and tile installers. Although certification is not required, it demonstrates that a flooring installer and tile and stone setter has a specific mastery of skills to do a job.
The Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF) offers the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) designation for workers with 2 or more years of experience as a tile installer. Applicants must pass 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. To qualify for the program, applicants must have either completed a qualified apprenticeship program or earned the CTI certification. Requirements for certification include passing both an exam and a field test.
The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) offers optional certification for floor sanders and finishers. Sanders and finishers must have 2 years of experience and must have completed NWFA-approved training. Applicants are 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 performance evaluation.
The International Standards & Training Alliance (INSTALL) offers a comprehensive flooring certification program for flooring and tile installers. INSTALL certification requires both classroom and hands-on training and covers all major types of flooring.
Color vision. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters often determine small color variations and must be able to distinguish among colors in patterns for the best looking finish.
Customer-service skills. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters must be courteous with and considerate of customers, especially while completing tasks in customers’ homes.
Detail oriented. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters need to be thorough and exacting to ensure that tile, wood, and carpet patterns are properly aligned.
Math skills. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters use math to measure an area to be covered and to calculate the amount of material needed to cover it.
Physical stamina. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters must be able to stand or kneel for many hours in order to spread adhesive quickly and place tiles before the adhesive hardens.
Physical strength. Flooring installers and tile and stone setters must be able to lift, carry, and set heavy pieces of flooring material into position.