Detailed Guide forCement Masons and Concrete Finishers in California
May also be called: Concrete Finishers; Concrete Floor Installers; Curb Builders
What Would I Do?
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers smooth and finish surfaces of poured concrete, such as floors, walls, sidewalks, roads, or curbs using a variety of hand and power tools. They perform all phases of the work, including mixing, pouring, and spreading the concrete. Cement Masons first prepare a site to place concrete by setting the forms for holding the concrete, and then by properly aligning the forms. Then, they pour the concrete and use shovels and rakes to spread the concrete. Cement Masons level, smooth, finish and shape the concrete surfaces using hand tools such as straightedges, tamps, floats, and trowels. Power trowels may be used on large-scale projects, but corners, edges, and hard-to-reach places must be finished by hand. After leveling the concrete, Cement Masons “float” or smooth the surface of the concrete with a long handled bull float tool. This process brings a compound of smooth cement paste to the surface.
After the concrete has been leveled and floated, Concrete Finishers press an edger between the forms and the concrete. They guide the edger along the surface and edge. This process produces rounded edges that helps prevent cracking or chipping. Also, Finishers use a groover tool to make joints at precise intervals to prevent the cement from cracking. Then, they use a hand or powered trowel to smooth the surface. For the final step, Concrete Finishers re-trowel the surface back and forth with powered or hand trowels to produce a smooth finish. To create a textured, nonskid finish, Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers may brush the cement surface with a broom or stiff brush.
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers may produce decorative finishes by adding color with premixed concrete. In addition, they may use a variety of brushes, belts, or terrazzo (marble) chips to create unique surfaces.
Throughout the entire process, Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers must monitor how various weather conditions affect the curing rate of the concrete. They must be knowledgeable about concrete characteristics so that by sight and touch, they can determine what is happening to the concrete to take corrective action to prevent defects.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Monitor how the wind, heat, or cold affect the curing of the concrete throughout the entire process.||Building and Construction|
|Chip, scrape, and grind high spots, ridges, and rough projections to finish concrete, using pneumatic chisels, power grinders, or hand tools.||Equipment Selection|
|Apply hardening and sealing compounds to cure surface of concrete, and waterproof or restore surface.||Extent Flexibility|
|Cut out damaged areas, drill holes for reinforcing rods, and position reinforcing rods to repair concrete, using power saw and drill.||Critical Thinking|
|Mix cement, sand, and water to produce concrete, grout, or slurry, using hoe, trowel, tamper, scraper, or concrete-mixing machine.||Information Ordering|
|Direct the casting of the concrete and supervise laborers who use shovels or special tools to spread it.||Complex Problem Solving|
|Signal truck driver to position truck to facilitate pouring concrete, and move chute to direct concrete on forms.||Coordination|
|Mold expansion joints and edges, using edging tools, jointers, and straightedge.||Multilimb Coordination|
|Spread, level, and smooth concrete, using rake, shovel, hand or power trowel, hand or power screed, and float.||Arm-Hand Steadiness|
|Set the forms that hold concrete to the desired pitch and depth, and align them.||Manual Dexterity|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Building and Construction||Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.|
|Equipment Selection||Determining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.|
|Extent Flexibility||The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.|
|Critical Thinking||Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.|
|Information Ordering||The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).|
|Complex Problem Solving||Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.|
|Coordination||Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.|
|Multilimb Coordination||The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.|
|Arm-Hand Steadiness||The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.|
|Manual Dexterity||The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.|
Cement Masons typically work out-doors on construction sites. Cement Masons are exposed to most types of weather, except heavy rain or freezing conditions, and must work around wet concrete. The work is strenuous and requires significant physical effort. The daily tasks are physically demanding involving extensive pushing and pulling, reaching and handling, bending and stooping, kneeling, crawling, and walking. Also, the work may require climbing or working from scaffolds and lifting and carrying materials weighing up to 100 pounds.
Potential hazards include the possibility of falls, falling objects, back injuries, knee injuries, and cement poisoning. However, the risk of injury is reduced by wearing protective equipment such as rubber boots, gloves, hard hats, knee pads, face masks (for cement dust), and safety glasses. Cement Masons and Finishers usually work eight-hour shifts, Monday through Friday. However, their hours may be increased or decreased depending upon weather conditions.
Some Cement Masons belong to the Cement Masons’ Union or the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of a Cement Mason and Concrete Finisher will appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. Cement Mason and Concrete Finishing occupations satisfy those with realistic interests. Realistic occupations involve technical or mechanical activities.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
Cement Masons’ and Concrete Finishers’ wages in California differ widely depending on job duties and responsibilities, work experience, type of industry, and location of the work. Workers in large cities usually earn higher wages than those who work in smaller towns and rural areas.
The median wage in 2015 for Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers in California was $47,183 annually, or $22.69 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers typically receive benefits that include vacation, health insurance, and retirement plans. For union members, the benefit packages are negotiated in contracts between employers and unions.
What is the Job Outlook?
Job opportunities for Cement Masons and Cement Finishers are expected to continue as more workers will be needed to build new highways, bridges and non-residential structures to meet the demands of a growing population. There is also a continuing need to repair aging highways, bridges, and structures. However, the trend toward using quick drying cement products may shorten the duration of some jobs. Many employers report difficulty finding potential workers with the right qualifications. Employment opportunities will be best for individuals who have completed courses or training through technical schools or apprenticeship programs. In addition, many people currently working in the cement mason and finishing trades are expected to retire over the next 10 years, which will create additional job openings.
Employment of Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. Workers in these trades may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of these workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers are expected to increase by 38.4 percent, or 5,800 jobs between 2012 and 2022.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 580 new job openings per year is expected for Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers, plus an additional 170 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 750 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
There are a number of ways to become a Cement Mason or Concrete Finisher due to the range of training options available. Completion of a formal apprenticeship or vocational college program is the standard entrance pathway into this occupation.
Formal apprenticeship programs require applicants to be at least 18 years of age. There is no maximum age. Applicants must be physically able to perform all phases of the work. A high school diploma is not required. However, applicants must be able to read and write in English to ensure successful completion of the training program. Basic mathmatic skills are also helpful.
The amount and type of experience required varies from company to company. However, the Cement Masons apprenticeship requires completion of 432 classroom hours for technical training and 4,200 hours of on-the-job training during a three-year program.
Early Career Planning
High school preparation courses in general science, mathematics, foreign language, blueprint reading, and mechanical drawing provide a helpful background for those interested in cement masonry and concrete finishing careers.
Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs
Apprentices learn their trade while working on the job during a three year apprenticeship program. They also attend classroom training for technical instruction. For more information on apprenticeship programs currently available, visit the State of California's Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Apprenticeship Standards Web site.
Related early training programs are available through Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) titled Introduction to Construction, and Brick, Block, and Stonemasonry. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
Journey-level Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers wishing to enter self-employment as a Concrete Specialty Contractor must pass an exam and a fingerprint background check to obtain a Concrete Related Services Specialty Contractor’s license through the Contractors State License Board. Specialty contractor’s licenses are active for two years. Licenses may be renewed for a two-year period. Refer to “Other Sources” for additional information. Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information.Click on the license title below for details.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
- Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Concrete Finisher, Concrete Finishing, and Mason/Masonry.
- Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Building Foundation/Exterior Contractors ||44.4%|
|Other Specialty Trade Contractors ||14.2%|
|Residential Building Construction ||10.2%|
|Nonresidential Building Construction ||9.7%|
|Highway, Street, and Bridge Construction ||7.0%|
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Jobs may also be found through registration with temporary employment agencies and through classified advertisements in newspapers, trade publications, and Internet job listings. Union members search for work by registering with their local hiring hall. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers.
- Cement Retail
- Cement Wholesale & Manufacturing
- Concrete Contractors
- Concrete Resurfacing
- Concrete Technologists
- Concrete Wall Contractors
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
With additional education or training, Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers may become supervisors for masonry contractors or move into construction management, building inspection, or contract estimation positions. Some may enter self-employment, becoming owners of businesses by obtaining a Concrete Related Services Specialty Contractor License through the California Contractors State License Board.
Below is a list of occupations related to Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers with links to more information.
|Brickmasons and Blockmasons||Guide|
|Helpers--Brickmasons, Blockmasons, Stonemasons, and Tile and Marble Setters||Profile|
|Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers||Guide|
|Tile and Marble Setters||Guide|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.