A career on the tiles

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As a tiler you would cover walls or floors with tiles, on jobs ranging from tiling splashbacks round sinks in kitchens or bathrooms to fitting out shops, hotels or restaurants.

Some tilers also carry out specialist work, for instance on swimming pools and mosaic walls in, for example, landscaped gardens.

As a tiler, your work would typically involve:

l marking out an area to estimate the number of tiles and amount of adhesive needed (known as setting out,

l cutting tiles to size and shape with hand-cutters or bench-mounted tools,

l preparing surfaces by levelling off with plaster, sand or cement,

l fixing the tiles and applying grout before finishing off.

On some jobs you may have to repair or remove the previous surface before the setting out stage.

You would work with various building materials, including ceramics, glass, terracotta, stone, granite and marble.

You would normally work between 37 and 45 hours a week, Monday to Friday, although you may need to work overtime to meet contract deadlines.

Tiling can be physically demanding and often involves lifting heavy loads, so a degree of strength and fitness is required.

You may also need to work in fairly confined spaces from time to time and may spend days on end on your knees if tiling a large floor area.

You would wear protective safety clothing when working with adhesives and grout.

Your work would involve travel from site to site, and some contracts may involve overnight stays away from home.

Starting salaries for tilers are between £11,000 and £16,000 a year.

With experience and qualifications, this can rise to between £17,000 and £23,000.

Tilers with supervisory or training duties can earn between £25,000 and £30,000.

Wage rates could be higher if bonuses, shift allowances and overtime are included.

Although no formal qualifiactions are needed to become a tiler, employers may prefer you to have some on-site experience, which you could get by starting out as a site labourer. Once working, your employer may offer you training in tiling.

An ability to follow designs and an eye for detail are essential for tiling and it is useful to have some artistic flair to create eye-catching designs.

When calculating the materials needed for a job it is necessary to have mathematical skills so some employers may ask for GCSEs in subjects like maths, English and design and technology, or equivalent qualifications like the BTEC Introductory Certificate or Diploma in Construction.

You may be able to get into this career through an Apprenticeship scheme with a building or tiling firm.

The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.

Alternatively, you could take a college course like the Intermediate Construction Award (Tiling).

This would teach you some of the skills needed for the job but employers may still want to see some relevant experience. Check with local colleges for course details.

You can also find a list of accredited private tiling training centres on the Tile Association website.

The Know Your Place campaign aims to promote construction as a career choice for women.

Once you are working as a tiler, you would usually train on the job, with day or block release at a local college or training centre.

You could work towards the NVQ in Wall and Floor Tiling at levels 2 and 3, by combining your training with assessments in the workplace.

To gain the NVQ you must pass several units, including:

l setting out

l preparing surfaces

l positioning and fixing wall and floor tiles

l mosaic finishes.

Many building contractors insist you have a Construction Skills Certification Scheme card to work on their sites.

The card is proof of your skills and competence. To get your card you must:

l pass a health and safety assessment

l have an NVQ or equivalent qualification.

You will also have to be able to work either as part of a team or alone.