Concrete finisher duties include levelling the top surface of freshly poured concrete, and operating a power vibrator to compress concrete.
Careers in Skilled Trades: Concrete finisher
Over the next few issues we will be looking at some skilled trades so you can get some idea of what's out there. This week we will look at the career of concrete finisher.
Do you like to work with tools and equipment? Are you strong and physically fit? Do you like precise work? Do you like working with your hands? If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as a Concrete Finisher could be right for you.
Concrete finishers smooth and finish freshly poured concrete, apply curing or surface treatments and install, maintain and restore various masonry structures such as floors, ceilings, sidewalks, roads and patios.
Most are employed by construction companies, concrete contractors and manufacturers. Some concrete finishers are self-employed, contracting their services for smaller projects such as patios, sidewalks and driveways.
As a Concrete Finisher, your duties may include the following:
- Levelling the top surface of freshly poured concrete on floors, walls, ceilings or sidewalks
- Operating a power vibrator to compress concrete
- Applying hardening and sealing compounds to cure the surface of concrete
- Waterproofing, damp-proofing and restoring concrete surfaces
- Installing anchor bolts, steel plates and other fixtures in freshly poured concrete
As a Concrete Finisher, your work hours are weather-dependent. There is less work available in the winter, and summer hours are often longer than the standard 40-hour week. Overtime is often required because concrete finishers cannot leave a project in the middle and return to it the next day. The number of additional hours you work each week depends on the construction sector and region you work in, and will vary from one job to the next.
As a Concrete Finisher, you may work indoors or outdoors, usually with a team of other construction professionals. The work is often fast-paced and strenuous—you may have to lift heavy materials and spend long periods of time bending and kneeling.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Concrete finishers are trained to work safely and wear special equipment to protect against injury.
Training and Certification
Apprenticeship Apprenticeship involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Concrete Finisher, called a journeyperson.
As an apprentice, you earn while you learn and are paid by the hour while working on the job site. Wages start at about 60 per cent of a journeyperson’s hourly rate and increase during your apprenticeship until you reach the full rate.
Requirements for concrete finisher apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. In most provinces and territories, you must be at least 16 years old and have a Grade 10 education or equivalent to enter the program. You may also find it helpful to have courses in math, science and drafting.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as a Concrete Finisher.
Apprenticeship training programs for concrete finishers vary across Canada, but generally involve three 12-month periods, including at least 3,600 hours of on-the-job training, two four-week blocks of technical training and a final certificate exam.
Related work experience or completion of a concrete finisher program at a college or technical institute can reduce the time required to complete your apprenticeship.
Certification is required in Quebec, and is available but voluntary in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. Where certification is not available, it may be possible to study as an apprentice through your local labour organization. Even where certification is voluntary, it is still recommended. Certification tells employers and other workers that you are a skilled professional. It also helps you get jobs.
To be certified as a Concrete Finisher, you usually need to complete a three-year apprenticeship program. Once you successfully complete the required on-the-job training, technical training and exams, you are awarded a journeyperson certificate.
You may be eligible for certification in some provinces and territories if you have more than four years of on-the-job experience and some high school, college or industry courses in concrete finishing.
As a certified Concrete Finisher, you may write the Interprovincial Exam to qualify for the Interprovincial Standards’ Red Seal. With a Red Seal, you can work as a Concrete Finisher anywhere in Canada.
To keep their skills current, Concrete Finishers must keep up with new technology developments by reading and speaking with other concrete finishers.