How to become a Cement Worker or Concrete Finisher

A concrete finisher worker, also known as a cement mason, is an essential role in the construction industry. From highways to home patios, these skilled workers contribute significantly to the urban and rural landscapes we see every day.

How to become a Cement Worker or Concrete Finisher

What is a Concrete Finisher Worker?

A concrete finisher worker is a construction professional who works with concrete to create and repair structures. Their tasks include setting the concrete forms, ensuring they have the correct depth and pitch. They then pour the concrete, and once it’s partially dry, they apply various finishing techniques to create a smooth surface or a specific pattern.

Beyond just finishing, these workers are responsible for monitoring the concrete to prevent it from cracking during the curing process, which can take up to a month. They may also color concrete surfaces, expose aggregate (small stones) in walls and sidewalks, or fabricate concrete beams, columns, and panels.

How to Become a Concrete Finisher Worker

  1. Education: Generally, you need a high school diploma or equivalent to start as a concrete finisher worker. However, a substantial portion of learning happens on the job or through apprenticeship programs.
  2. Training: Most concrete finishers learn their trade through a combination of on-the-job training and technical instruction. Some begin their training as construction laborers and helpers before transitioning into this more specialized role. Apprenticeships, offered by trade schools and community colleges, are another common pathway, usually taking up to 3 years.
  3. Certifications: While not mandatory, certification can be beneficial, demonstrating your competence to potential employers. Certifications are available through organizations like the American Concrete Institute.
  4. Skills: This role requires physical strength and stamina, the ability to work in a team, a keen eye for detail, and proficiency in using tools like power trowels, brooms, and screeds.

Wages and Job Growth

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of May 2021, the median annual wage for cement masons and concrete finishers was $53,890. However, the top 10% of earners made more than $80,680 annually. The job outlook from 2021 to 2031 projected a 1.3% growth, which is slower than average for all occupations.

Benefits of Being a Concrete Finisher Worker

  • Variety of Work: No two projects are identical, meaning you’ll often face new challenges and tasks.
  • Physical Fitness: The job requires physical strength and endurance, which can help you stay in shape.
  • Sense of Achievement: Seeing the finished product of your work can bring a great sense of satisfaction.
  • Growing Demand: With the continuous need for infrastructure repair and construction, the demand for skilled concrete finishers remains steady.

Drawbacks of Being a Concrete Finisher Worker

  • Physically Demanding: The work is physically intensive, often requiring long hours of standing, bending, or kneeling.
  • Working Conditions: You may need to work in inclement weather or under the hot sun, as concrete pouring depends on project timelines.
  • Risk of Injury: Like other construction jobs, concrete finishers face higher risks of work-related injuries.
  • Irregular Hours: Depending on the project, you might have to work evenings or weekends, and overtime can be common.

Choosing a career as a concrete finisher worker can lead to a rewarding, hands-on career in construction. Despite the physical demands and challenging working conditions, the profession offers a steady income, a wide variety of work, and a tangible sense of achievement. As with any career choice, consider your physical health, ability to withstand outdoor conditions, and your interest in hands-on, detail-oriented work when making your decision.

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