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Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMlngKnDA6c.
Quick Facts: Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers
2019 Median Pay $47,360 per year
$22.77 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019 146,900
Job Outlook, 2019-29 0% (Little or no change)
Employment Change, 2019-29 -300

What Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers Do

Drywall and ceiling tile installers hang wallboard and install ceiling tile inside buildings. Tapers prepare the wallboard for painting.

Work Environment

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers work indoors. Workers spend most of the day standing, bending, or reaching, and they often must lift and maneuver heavy wallboard.

How to Become a Drywall Installer, Ceiling Tile Installer, or Taper

Most drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers learn their trade on the job. A formal educational credential is typically not required to enter the occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for drywall and ceiling tile installers was $45,700 in May 2019.

The median annual wage for tapers was $59,070 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

Employment of drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers is projected to show little or no change from 2019 to 2029. However, there will be openings each year because of the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

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

What Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers Do About this section

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers
Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers work with many different types of tools.

Drywall installers 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.

Duties

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers typically do the following:

  • Measure, mark, and cut drywall panels according to design plans  
  • Fasten panels and tiles to support structures
  • Patch, trim, and smooth rough spots and edges
  • Apply tape and sealing compound to cover joints between wallboards
  • Add coats of sealing compound to create an even surface
  • Sand all joints and holes for a smooth, seamless finish

Drywall and ceiling tile installers place panels over the walls and ceilings of interior rooms in buildings. The panels cover insulation, electrical wires, and pipes; dampen sound; and provide fire resistance. Tapers prepare the drywall for finishing.

Workers may use mechanical lifts or stand on stilts, ladders, or scaffolds to hang and prepare ceilings. After hanging wallboards, workers use trowels to spread coats of sealing compound over cracks, indentations, and other imperfections. Some workers use a mechanical applicator, a tool that spreads sealing compound on the wall joint while dispensing and setting tape at the same time.

Drywall installers are also called drywallers or hangers. They cut and hang the panels of wallboard. The tools they use include tape measures, straightedges, utility knives, and power saws.

Ceiling tile installers hang ceiling tiles and create suspended ceilings. Tiles may be applied directly to the ceiling, attached to furring strips, or suspended on runners that are connected by wire to the ceiling. Workers are sometimes called acoustical carpenters, because they also install tiles that block sound.

Tapers, also called finishers, prepare the drywall for covering by paint and wallpaper. Tapers apply paper or fiberglass mesh tape to cover drywall seams. They also smooth the tape after affixing it and apply a finishing compound to the tape.

In addition to performing new installations, many installers and tapers make repairs such as fixing damaged drywall and replacing ceiling tiles. The wall coverings applied to the finished drywall are installed by  painters, plasterers, and paperhangers.

Work Environment About this section

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers
Tapers cover the seams where drywall edges meet.

Drywall and ceiling tile installers held about 125,100 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of drywall and ceiling tile installers were as follows:

Drywall and insulation contractors 64%
Self-employed workers 18
Nonresidential building construction 5

Tapers held about 21,800 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of tapers were as follows:

Drywall and insulation contractors 69%
Self-employed workers 18
Nonresidential building construction 6
Painting and wall covering contractors 2

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers work indoors. The work is physically demanding. Workers spend most of the day standing, bending, or reaching, and they must often lift and maneuver heavy wallboard.

Work Schedules

Most drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers work full time.

How to Become a Drywall Installer, Ceiling Tile Installer, or Taper About this section

Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers
New drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers typically learn their job by working with more experienced workers.

Most drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers learn their trade on the job. A formal educational credential is typically not required to enter the occupation.

Education

There are no educational credential requirements for becoming a drywall installer, ceiling tile installer, or taper, although some employers prefer to hire candidates who have a high school diploma or equivalent.

A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for workers starting an apprenticeship.

Training

Most drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers learn their trade on the job by helping experienced workers and gradually taking on more duties. They start by carrying materials and cleaning up and then learn to use the tools of the trade. They learn to measure, cut, and install or apply materials. They may start out working on less visible areas, such as closets. Their on-the-job training typically lasts up to 12 months.

A few groups, including the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs for drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers. Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with technical instruction and typically last 2 to 4 years.

During their apprenticeship training, drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers learn a number of safety rules, many of which are standardized through the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

Advancement

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers may advance to become supervisors, general superintendents, project managers, or estimators. Workers may also choose to start their own business after gaining experience in the occupation. 

Workers who join a union may also find career advancement opportunities within their union, such as becoming the business manager for a local chapter or becoming an instructor for the apprenticeship program.

Important Qualities

Ability to work at heights.  Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers may be required to work on ladders, scaffolding, lifts, or stilts. 

Attention to detail.  Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers must take precise measurements, follow specific instructions, and be meticulous in their work. 

Balance. Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers often wear stilts. They must be able to move around and use tools overhead without falling.

Dexterity. Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers work with hand tools on every job.

Math skills. Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers must be able to estimate the quantity of materials needed when cutting panels.

Physical stamina. Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers routinely lift and move heavy materials into place, so workers should be physically fit.

Physical strength. Drywall and ceiling tile installers must often lift heavy panels over their heads to secure onto the ceiling and must carry heavy materials to work areas.

Pay About this section

Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Median annual wages, May 2019

Tapers

$59,070

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers

$47,360

Construction trades workers

$46,340

Drywall and ceiling tile installers

$45,700

Total, all occupations

$39,810

 

The median annual wage for drywall and ceiling tile installers was $45,700 in May 2019. 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 $28,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $85,090.

The median annual wage for tapers was $59,070 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $34,190, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $95,950.

In May 2019, the median annual wages for drywall and ceiling tile installers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nonresidential building construction $49,480
Drywall and insulation contractors 46,190

In May 2019, the median annual wages for tapers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nonresidential building construction $68,730
Drywall and insulation contractors 58,280
Painting and wall covering contractors 57,140

Most drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers work full time.

Job Outlook About this section

Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers

Percent change in employment, projected 2019-29

Total, all occupations

4%

Construction trades workers

3%

Drywall and ceiling tile installers

0%

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers

0%

Tapers

-4%

 

Employment of drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers is projected to show little or no change from 2019 to 2029.

Drywall continues to be the most common interior wall covering in buildings, so the demand for these workers is expected to continue to come from the construction of new buildings. Home-remodeling projects are also expected to be a source of job growth as owners of existing homes and other buildings make improvements.

However, overall employment in the drywall and insulation contractors industry—an industry employing about two-thirds of drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers—is projected to decline over the decade, offsetting employment growth in other industries. In addition, tapers will continue to use new tools that allow workers to do more in less time.

Job Prospects

Despite limited growth, about 11,800 openings for drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers are projected each year, on average, over the decade.

Nearly all of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to other occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment projections data for drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers, 2019-29
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2019 Projected Employment, 2029 Change, 2019-29 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

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

Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers

47-2080 146,900 146,600 0 -300 Get data

Drywall and ceiling tile installers

47-2081 125,100 125,600 0 500 Get data

Tapers

47-2082 21,800 21,000 -4 -900 Get data

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.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop 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 drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2019 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons

Masonry Workers

Masonry workers use bricks, concrete and concrete blocks, and natural and manmade stones to build structures.

See How to Become One $46,500
Carpenters

Carpenters

Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials.

High school diploma or equivalent $48,330
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 $36,000
Painters, construction and maintenance

Painters, Construction and Maintenance

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

No formal educational credential $40,280
Tile and marble setters

Flooring Installers and Tile and Marble Setters

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

No formal educational credential $42,050
Insulation workers

Insulation Workers

Insulation workers install and replace the materials used to insulate buildings or mechanical systems.

See How to Become One $44,180
Roofers

Roofers

Roofers replace, repair, and install the roofs of buildings.

No formal educational credential $42,100

Contacts for More Information About this section

For details about apprenticeships 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 drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers; or local union–management finishing trade apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship program online or by phone at 877-872-5627. Visit Apprenticeship.gov to search for apprenticeship opportunities.

For more information about drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors

Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry

Finishing Trades Institute

National Association of Home Builders

NCCER

United Brotherhood of Carpenters

O*NET

Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers

Tapers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Drywall Installers, Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/drywall-and-ceiling-tile-installers-and-tapers.htm (visited November 22, 2020).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2020

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2019 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 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.

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, 2019

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2019, which is the base year of the 2019-29 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2019-29

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029. The average growth rate for all occupations is 4 percent.

Employment Change, 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

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 2019-29

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2019 to 2029.

2019 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 2019, the median annual wage for all workers was $39,810.