If the construction field appeals to you and you’re excited at the idea of creating decorative walkways, panels, floors and patios, a career as a terrazzo worker might be a good fit. This is very detailed work with high standards of completion.
High School or GED
Terrazzo is a composite material with origins in 15th century Venice, GreenWiseFlooring.com says. Workers added leftover marble chips to construction to create designs. Today, terrazzo might include marble, granite, quartz, glass or other chips. Terrazzo work often appears in schools, government buildings and hospitals.
You’ll find terrazzo workers on jobs that are demanding yet artistic. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), preliminary work includes pouring, leveling and finishing concrete, duties similar to those of a cement mason.
As a terrazzo worker, you’ll blend fine chips in cement. The resulting pattern often has color. Once the terrazzo has set, you’ll inspect it closely and fix any imperfections.
Terrazzo workers are subject to various types of injuries. The most common are chemical burns from uncured concrete, falls and cuts from tools and machinery.
A number of other occupations might also appeal to you if you’re attracted to a terrazzo worker’s duties. Among them:
- Brick mason
- Stone mason
- Cement mason
- Tile installer
- Stucco mason
- Tile or marble carver, cutter and setter
Although the BLS groups terrazzo workers with cement masons and says that between 2010 and 2020, the combined group will experience 34 percent job growth – faster than average – the respective rate for each occupation is different. The projected job growth for cement masons is 35 percent, while terrazzo workers can expect around 15 percent, roughly average for all occupations.
In 2010, the median wage was $17.08 per hour, or $35,530 a year. Your chances of finding work improve greatly with experience, since many workers find that they prefer less-strenuous work.
You can enter this career via an apprenticeship program or through training at a technical school and/or on the job.
Important qualities include:
- Good color vision
- Good health and physical strength for heavy lifting and carrying
- Ability to spend a significant amount of time bending, reaching and kneeling
- Knowledge of hand and power tools
- Artistic ability
- Ability to work in extreme temperatures
- Acceptable transportation to and from the job site
If you accept an apprenticeship or a job sponsored by a union, expect to pay union dues.
The typical training for a terrazzo worker is a formal apprenticeship similar to the union training described by the New York State Department of Labor. To apply, you must at a least 18 and possess a high school diploma or a GED and submit an affidavit of your physical ability to perform a list of duties. Applicants must also take an exam to assess basic skills.
In lieu of an apprenticeship, taking relevant classes as a local community college or technical school can help you get a job with a contractor as a helper.
Steps to Becoming a Terrazzo Worker
Before deciding whether this is the career for you, spend a day or two watching a journeyman terrazzo worker. You’ll probably be surprised at the physical demands of the work.
To learn about hiring expectations and training available, contact a masonry union or a local contractor. Apply for any apprenticeships for which you qualify. Also take relevant courses at a local community college or trade school while waiting for a decision on an application. This can also be helpful if you’re already a mason who wants to add to your skills.
Apprentices receive a portion of what journeymen earn. After you complete the training and land your first job, you could advance to foreman, construction manager or project manager. Some terrazzo workers eventually become inspectors or instructors.