Cement Mason

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Cement Mason


When walking down a sidewalk, often times people will see a permanent footprint engraved into the cement. Someone obviously stepped into the cement before it dried properly. Cement masons or concrete finishers try and make sure that does not happen, however people do like to leave their permanent marks. Nevertheless, cement masons prepare and repair concrete, including pouring and finishing slabs, steps, wall tops, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, and paving. They work with a variety of materials including terrazzo, magnasite, epoxy, polymer and other plastic materials for topping repair and injection.

A cement mason finishes all concrete on concrete construction, including walls, ceilings, sidewalks, curbs and gutters. These projects range from small jobs such as finishing patios, floors, and sidewalks to working on commercial, industrial, and public buildings, miles of highways and airport landing sites. They use trowels and floats or any related processes to give surfaces a smooth finish. They also sack, chip, rub, grind and cure finished concrete work. They operate power vibrators to compact concrete and apply hardening and sealing compounds to cure concrete surfaces.

Cement masons are very knowledgeable about the properties of cement. They also know how to mix cement properly to attain the desired effect. They usually prepare a thick, smooth material for an undercoat followed by a finish coat to give the surface a smooth look. Accordingly, cement masons must be able to estimate costs and amounts of cement needed for each project, which will come easily with time and experience.

Besides laying out fresh concrete, cement masons also restore chipped surfaces and repair, resurface and replace damaged sections of floors, walls, roads and other concrete structures. With different types of cement, we get different kinds of techniques. For example, when cementing over wires or lath foundations, a trowel must be used to apply a base coat. Once that dries, they use a tool to scratch the surface so the final coat will bond properly.
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  Average Earnings  
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  Interests and Skills  
Cement masons must have good strength and stamina, as their work is physically demanding. They also have good manual dexterity and steady hands. Many masons are also very creative. They must be comfortable working from ladders and scaffolds. Cement masonry work is most rewarding for those who enjoy working indoors and outdoors with little direction or supervision.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Clean and prepare surfaces
  • Mix cement ingredients in trough to desired consistency
  • Check form work, granular base and steel reinforcement materials and direct placement of concrete into forms or onto surfaces according to grade
  • Apply, level and smooth coats of cement using trowels, floats, brushes and spraying equipment
  • Fill hollows and remove high spots to smooth freshly poured concrete
  • Level top surface of concrete according to grade and depth specifications
  • Install anchor bolts, steel plates, door sills and other fixtures in freshly poured concrete
  • Repair, resurface and replace worn or damaged sections of floors, walls, roads and other concrete structures.
  • Cement masons usually work outdoors, especially when the weather is warmer. They work standard 40-hour weeks, which may include evening and weekend work and longer hours when construction deadlines are looming. Cement masons are exposed to some safety hazards and very dirty working conditions. Also, since cement dries rather quickly after it is poured, cement masons are under pressure to finish the job before it sets; regardless of the time of day or climatic conditions.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Cement masons are employed by construction companies, cement and concrete contractors and manufacturers of precast concrete products. Some cement masons are self-employed and contract their services out for smaller jobs. In smaller towns, cement masons may double as plasterers and drywall tapers.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Experienced cement masons may advance to supervisory positions or estimator positions. With additional training, they can transfer their skills to related occupations such as plasterer, drywall installer, bricklayer or tilesetter.

  Educational Paths  
Cement masons receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become a cement mason, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training and classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the cement mason a certificate of completion.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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