Are you thinking of training to become a plasterer? A plastering career involves applying different kinds of plaster to give a finish to internal walls, floors and ceilings. Plasterers also apply coatings to outside walls using sand and cement, pebble-dash and stone-effect materials.
Opportunities for plastering careers are good with around 2,500 newly qualified workers needed in the next two years. You can work for specialist plastering firms, building contractors, local authorities and other public organisations. Many plasterers are self-employed and work as sub-contractors, working as ‘labour only’ with the building contractor supplying materials.
How to become become a plasterer
A plastering careers can include working on everything from large commercial developments to small-scale domestic extensions, repairs and restoration.
The two main types of plastering:
- Solid plastering: Applying wet finishes to internal walls, ceilings and floors and putting protective coverings like pebble-dashing on external walls with hand tools and spraying equipment.
- Fibrous plastering: Making ornamental plasterwork such as ceiling roses, cornices, ornamental columns and architraves from a mixture of plaster and short fibres. These often follow drawings from an architect, artist or interior designer, using tools like moulds and casts.
- A third, rapidly-growing area of work for plasterers is dry lining. This general term is used to describe the fixing of internal plasterboard or wallboard partitions. Plasterers who do this kind of work (often known as ‘dry liners’) fix wall and floor partitions by fastening boards together on a timber or metal frame ready for decorating - this is often referred to as “Dotting and Dabbing”.
If you become a plasterer you will need to work a 39 hour week, Monday to Friday, although overtime during weekends or evenings may be necessary to meet deadlines.
As a solid plasterer or dry liner, you will work indoors which may include working in partially completed buildings. If you work as a fibrous plasterer, you are usually in a workshop but may go on some site visits.
You may have to work at heights from ladders, platforms or scaffolding, depending on the job so becoming a plasterer is not for the faint-hearted. During your plastering career you will travel from site to site on contracts and some jobs may involve working away from home for periods of time.
Plasterers skills and interests
Below are a few attributes that help you become a plasterer:
- good practical skills to work with tools
- ability to work quickly, accurately and as part of a team
- numeric skills for calculating surface areas and volumes of material
- creative ability for fibrous plastering and other decorative work
- a reasonable level of fitness
- an awareness of health and safety issues
To become a plasterer you do not need any set entry requirements, but employers tend to want people with some on-site experience.
If you have not worked in construction before, then you may want to consider working as a plasterer’s mate or labourer as part of your plastering training to gain site experience.
Another route to become a plasterer is you may be able to get a job through plastering training on a plastering apprenticeship scheme. Funding for apprenticeships is available for 16-24 year olds and some over-25s. To be eligible for an apprenticeship, you will need some GCSE grades in subjects, such as maths, English and design technology or equivalent vocational qualifications like the Edexcel Introductory Certificate or Diploma in Construction.
Plastering training can take the shape of college plastering courses. These can teach you some of the skills needed for the job but employers may still want to see some site experience. Plastering training includes:
- City & Guilds Basic Skills in Construction Award (Plastering - 6217)
- Intermediate Construction Award (Dry Lining)
- Intermediate/Advanced Award (Plastering)
- Entry Level Certificate in Preparation for Employment (Plastering)
Once you are working as a plasterer you can have plastering training on the job with day or block release at a local college or training provider. This leads to the NVQ/SVQ in Plastering at levels 1 to 3. Units include:
- producing internal and external plastering finishes
- applying and fixing dry lining boards
- producing castings
- fixing and repairing fibrous components
- contributing to efficient working practices
These plastering salary figures are intended as a guideline only. After plastering training you can expect to earn:
- Starting salaries between £14,000 and £17,000 a year
- Qualified plasterers earn between £17,500 and £22,000
- Experienced plasterers can earn upwards of £26,000 a year
NB self-employed plasterers negotiate their own rates.
If you are training to become a plasterer, best of luck with your future plastering career!