Terrazzo workers make walkways, floors, patios, and panels. They take finished concrete and expose marble chips and other fine aggregates on the surface. Their work is very similar that of cement masons in the preliminary phase. First, they build a solid foundation, usually 3 to 4 inches deep. They remove the forms and add a 1-inch layer of sandy concrete. They partially embed metal divider strips in the concrete at the places where joints or changes in color will occur. Finally, they blend into each panel a fine marble chip mixture that is sometimes color-pigmented. With the mixture still wet, they toss more chips of different colors into the panels and roll the entire surface. After it has dried, they grind the surface with a terrazzo grinder.
Those interested in a career as a terrazzo worker should have good manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination. They need to be physically fit because the work is extremely physically demanding. They should enjoy working outdoors. Those who intend to become supervisors should have good leadership and communication skills.
In 2002, terrazzo workers earned a median hourly wage of $13.42. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $8.94, to the highest 10%, who earned more than $23.70.
Training and Education
A majority of terrazzo workers receive training on the job or in 3- to 4-year apprenticeship program. Many begin their careers as construction laborers. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates who are at least 18 years old for apprenticeship and helper positions. On-the-job training is usually informal and includes use of tools, equipment, machines, and materials. Trainees begin by taking on small tasks and move on to larger assignments as they learn more.
Apprenticeship programs are usually co-sponsored by unions and contractors include 144 hours of classroom training in addition to on-the-job training. Classes include applied mathematics, blueprint reading, and safety. With experience and additional training, cement masons can become supervisors for contractors or owners of their own businesses. Visit this page about trade schools for more information on related careers.
In 2002, terrazzo workers held about 190,000 jobs. About 1 in 20 were self-employed.
Between 2002 and 2012, employment of terrazzo workers is expected to increase faster than the average. Construction of new highways, bridges, subways, factories, office buildings, hotels, shopping centers, schools, and hospitals will spur demand for these workers. Overall job prospects will be favorable because the demand for these workers equals the supply. Employment is sensitive to economic cycles, however, and workers may experience periods of unemployment.