Cement mason and concrete finishers include segmental pavers and terrazzo workers. They all work with wet concrete, leveling and finishing it. Cement masons and concrete finishers prepare the site to receive the concrete by arranging the concrete forms, spreading the concrete, leveling it, smoothing it out, and washing away any left over excess. Concrete finishers use construction tools such as a groover and a hand trowel to perform these actions. They monitor weather activities in order to cover and preserve the finished concrete.
Segmental pavers prepare the base, cut the pavers, and install the masonry according to a pre-figured design. They use sand as filler. Segmental pavers typically work with driveways, sidewalks, and parking lots. Terrazzo workers work with walkways. They build a concrete foundation. They use such tools as a hand trowel to smooth out the surface of the concrete. With a growing population, employment of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers is expected to grow by thirteen percent in the next ten years. Workers will be needed for those communities building roads, bridges, and residential homes.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finishing Job Responsibilities
Cement mason and concrete finishers work in a strenuous environment that requires them to exert physical energy. Their work week might exceed forty hours. They do not have a strict eight-hour schedule. Most of their work is done on the ground where they are bending and kneeling. Their jobs are outdoors in usually unfavorable weather such as the heat, rain, and cold. They typically leave the job site dirty and muddy. They often must wear protective gear on their knees to avoid long-term problems. Their work consists of day-to-day tasks of leveling and finishing wet concrete. They must be physically fit to do the job and be able to bend and kneel for long periods of time.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finishing Training and Education Requirements
Cement mason and concrete finishers learn through on-the-job training. They begin as apprentices, helpers, and construction laborers. They may also attend vocational schools in the field. They receive an informal education on the job site. Experienced workers teach beginners. An entry-level cement mason and concrete finisher may begin with simple tasks such as edging the concrete and progress to the level of finishing.
Cement mason and concrete finishers may apply to an apprenticeship program. Before they can enroll in the program, they have to take a written test and physically demonstrate their ability. Once they pass the test, they may enroll in the program that usually takes approximately four years. Within the program, they receive instruction on estimating costs, safety standards, and blueprint reading. They learn mathematical concepts.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finishing Salary and Wages
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for cement mason and concrete finishers was $16.87 in May 2008, the highest ten percent earning $30.30 in the same year. Cement mason and concrete finishers in the commercial industries earned a median hourly rate of $17.82. Within the bridge construction industry, cement mason and concrete finishers earned an hourly wage of $17.12, less than finishers working as a trade contractor. Finishers who worked in foundation and building exteriors earned on average $16.67 in May 2008. Terrazzo workers and finishers earned a median hourly wage of $17.25; and segmental pavers earned $13.17, with the top percent earning more than the terrazzo workers ($19.33). Cement mason and concrete finishers can expect their wages to fluctuate due to weather conditions.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Cement Mason and Concrete Finishing Certifications
Cement mason and concrete finishers may pursue an Instructor Certification Program (ICP) designation offered through The International Masonry Institute (IMI). The program is five years long and includes such topics as architectural principles, hazard communications, and labor management principles.
Cement Mason and Concrete Finishing Professional Associations
Cement mason and concrete finishers typically belong to a union. They belong to one of the following unions: 1) Operative Plasterers’ and Cement Masons’ International Association of the United States and Canada or 2) The International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of the United States.
Cement mason and concrete finishers may also join the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). ABC operates approximately 77 chapters. It represents the construction industry. It advocates on behalf of its members with the government, in legal cases, and through educational outreach. It promotes the ideals of fair competition and professional integrity.
Cement mason and concrete finishers may also join The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). AGC provides its members with advocacy in the legislative arenas. Membership benefits include networking opportunities, educational programming, products and services, bookstore discounted items, newsletters, and e-forums. To become a member of AGC, applicants must apply to become a member of a local chapter.
Cement mason and concrete finishers may join The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). The MCAA is an advocacy group that represents masonry contractors. It trains and educates its members through education programs. Members enjoy opportunities for professional development and reasonable representation.
Cement mason and concrete finishers may also join The International Masonry Institute (IMI). IMI offers education for contractors who do masonry work. IMI partners with the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craft workers (BAC) to promote quality in the field. IMI offers a popular educational resource: IMI Masonry Camp. Program participants experience the masonry craft. They work together in teams on designing and building challenges. They work with masonry such as brick, tile, stone, and terrazzo. Seminars explore such topics as masonry detailing, tile construction, and quality assurance.