How to Become a Tile and Marble Setter

Whereas ironworkers and reinforcing iron and rebar workers focus on the creation of the vertical structure of a building, the tile and marble setter focuses on horizontal surfaces, specifically the floor. When carpet and hardwood flooring would seem a bit silly or exorbitant in cost, the tile and marble setter becomes the professional of choice. A highly labor-intensive process, the laying of floor tile lacks the educational and training demands of other construction roles, but brings with it a host of physical requirements that are somewhat unique to the role.

Less than high school
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Tile and marble setters are not only responsible for the properly-aligned placement of tiles on surfaces, but are also responsible for ensuring that the surface that is being covered in tile is clean and flat before the laying process begins. To ensure this is the case, the profession is trained in the use of the trowel for the application of grout. This both evens out the floor by adding a temporarily malleable layer to the surface while also giving the tile something to cling to hold fast once everything is dry.

Given most floors don’t come in sizes that are exact multiples of the prefabricated tiles with which the profession works, expertise with tools used to precisely cut tiles is also required. The nature of the job involves a great deal of stooping, bending, and kneeling, thus requiring excellent back and hip function in order to be successful long term.


The educational requirements for the tile and marble setter are significantly less rigorous than those responsible for the vertical structure of a building. Though a high school diploma or GED is not technically required to begin work as an assistant in the field, to qualify for the various two to four year apprenticeship programs, an individual must be 18 years of age or older, have a high school diploma or GED, and be physically capable of doing the work.

While in this apprenticeship program, the apprentice receives 144 hours of technical instruction, as well as 1,400 to 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training each year. As such, though the diploma is not required to get a foot in the door, it is required to burst right through the door and make a power play toward starting a rewarding career in the construction industry.


Like most positions in the construction industry, the tile and marble setter is critial to the successful creation of a structure. Construction is about creation and an experienced construction professional can expect to receive less supervision, more responsibility, more pay, and, eventually, minions to oversee as he gains experience in his chosen field.

Job Outlook

Like the rest of the construction industry, the market for tile and marble setters is booming. While not as strong as some other sectors of the industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 23 to 25 percent increase in the absolute size of this particular profession from 2010 to 2020. As the average forecasted growth rate across all industries is 14 percent, the tile and marble setter is expected to enjoy a rate of growth that is 71 percent faster than the average, leading to exceptionally competitive wages for those who are above average at what they do.

In 2010, the median wage for the tile and marble setter was $38,110 per year, while the top 10 percent of earners enjoyed a yearly wage of $68,980. As demand outpaces the average growth rate in the economy, this reward for solid, competent work should be expected to become even more pronounced, making construction in general excellent place to lay down roots should hard work and determination be abundant.

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