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Tilesetters cover, repair and decorate exterior and interior walls, floors and ceilings in residential and/or commercial buildings. Common materials used are ceramic, glass, metals, marble, quarry tile, slate, terrazzo and granite.

To install various types of tile, tilesetters:

  • assess and reinforce different types of surfaces,
  • comprehend and execute various blueprints,
  • establish the best layout for achieving desired patterns to complement a variety of spaces,
  • prepare, measure and mark the surface to be covered,
  • cut and trim tiles to fit around various objects and openings,
  • mix, apply and spread adhesives such as mortar, cement, mastic or epoxy over surfaces,
  • set and position tiles according to design patterns using tool such as chalk lines, straight edge or laser lines, and
  • finish tile installations using a variety of grouts and sealers.

Tilesetters may also:

  • create composite terrazzo surfaces using decorative aggregates,
  • cut, shape, polish and install marble and granite slabs,
  • maintain existing tiled surfaces by removing and replacing cracked or damaged tile,
  • prepare cost and material estimates,
  • design and create murals and medallions for esthetic purposes, and
  • install in-floor heating systems.

For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.


Working Conditions

Tilesetters work both indoors and outdoors. They generally work a five-day, 40-hour week, but overtime may be required to meet construction deadlines. There is considerable bending, kneeling and reaching involved in the work.

There is some risk of injury from sharp edges, power tools and heavy lifting.


Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for individuals who enjoy creating finished designs that require precise skills.

To be successful in their trade, tilesetters must have:

  • manual dexterity,
  • the ability to complete tile installation projects working from architectural plans and specifications,
  • strength, stamina and the use of proper lifting techniques required to work with weights in excess of 25 kilograms,
  • the ability to do precise work, and
  • the ability to work with little supervision.


Employment and Advancement

Tilesetters are employed by special trade, building and general contractors. Those who are self-employed usually contract their services for smaller renovation projects. Employment prospects for tilesetters change with seasonal and economic climates.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $25 to $35 an hour, plus benefits.

Tilesetters may advanced to supervisory positions such as foreman, superintendent and estimator.


Working in Alberta

To work as a tilesetter in Alberta, a person must:

  • be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential , OR
  • work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
  • be self-employed.

Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.


Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a tilesetter is 3 periods (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1600 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training in the first and second period and 1600 hours of on-the-job training in third period.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the tilesetter trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship.  Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprenticeship representative toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
  • A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application.  
  • A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

To learn the skills required of a Tilesetter in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:

Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from the local area.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
  • pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process 
  • complete the required on-the-job training
    - during on-the-job training, apprentice tilesetters earn at least 60 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first period, 70 percent in the second, and 80 percent in the third period.
  • complete all of the program requirements as identified in the Course Outline
  • enroll in technical training
  • successfully complete all required (See Exam Counselling Sheet)
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training will require apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.

Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.


Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A tilesetter who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.

To prepare for the exam see the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available Resource Materials.


Qualification Certificate Program

For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available Resource Materials.

Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.


Equivalency Program

A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.

However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.

Click for more information on the Equivalency Program.