Carpet, floor and tile installers are members of the construction industry responsible for laying down the flooring in a building, such as an office, home, or retail establishment. Depending on the needs of the tenant, this may be carpeting, a tile floor, or some other type of flooring material, such as linoleum or hardwood flooring.
Most floor installation professionals are paid an hourly wage. The average wage for a floor installer is $17.80 per hour. Earners in the lowest ten percent could expect to earn approximately $10.23 an hour, while those in the top ten percent typically earn over $30 an hour. The difference in wage is based primarily on experience, the type of material being installed, and the complexity level of the job being performed. Earnings potential is also driven by union membership, with union members typically earning more money than their non-union counterparts.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Job Description and Outlook
The primary task of a carpet, tile and floor installer is to successfully install the flooring in a room or set of rooms in a house, business or retail establishment, or government building. This typically involves preparing the flooring surface to make sure it is free of debris, bringing the flooring material into the room or building, laying it out according to the plan, and installing it along the floor, taking care along the way to make sure that all measurements are correct and that nothing is getting trapped under the flooring surface. In some cases, the installer will be responsible for taking measurements of the rooms to have flooring installed, and properly preparing the material to be installed. This is especially important when dealing with wall-to-wall carpet, as one solid piece of carpet may be used for several rooms, requiring that the carpet navigate around corners and along walls.
A floor installer may use a number of types of material as the flooring substance, including linoleum, vinyl, cork, hardwood, or cement. Tile installers have a special challenge in that they must attempt to lay each tile so that it is level with the tiles that surround it. Tiles that protrude up off the floor at a different height than the others, and tiles that lift up from the ground at odd angles, are accidents waiting to happen. This is especially dangerous when you consider that the rooms most likely to have tile laid down are kitchens and bathrooms, which are two of the most dangerous rooms in the house.
The outlook for floor installers is greatly dependent on the state of the economy. In better economic times, there is more new construction. In poor economies, less construction takes place, and as a result, there is less need for installers.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Education Requirements
There are typically no formal educational requirements to become a tile, carpet, or floor installer. Unlike many jobs, a high school diploma or GED is not required, making this one of the highest paying jobs available for those who did not complete high school. Most training for the job is done as hands-on training. Since floor installing is often a unionized position, newcomers to the industry may be instructed to serve as apprentices for the first few years of their career, helping established floor installers perform their work. As the apprentice gains experience, they are given increasingly complex tasks to perform, until they have mastered the skills that it takes to lead a floor installation project on their own.
The skills that are needed to succeed as a tile, floor, or carpet installer are primarily physical. A worker in this field needs to be good with their hands, and must have excellent hand-eye coordination, as they are often using dangerous equipment such as staple guns, placing them close to their hands as they operate the tools. Physical strength is required, as most flooring material is pretty heavy and often must be carried though various parts of a building. The successful installer must also be conditioned to work in extreme temperature conditions, as they often install floors in buildings that do not yet have their heating and air conditioning on.
There is not usually a certification process for working as a carpet, floor, or tile installer. Installers are generally expected to learn how to do their jobs safely as part of their apprenticeships. Many installers are self-employed, and if this is the case, there is typically a business certification process which varies by state and municipality. In order to actually do the work, however, it is not necessary to obtain licensure.
Many professional carpet, floor and tile installers are members of a trade union. Some of the largest unions in this field are the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsmen, and the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades. These unions help workers find employment, provide benefits typically available only to employees of large businesses, and ensure that workers are given safe work environments and treated with respect by their employers.
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