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Concrete Finisher

Duties

Concrete finishers place and finish concrete floors, driveways, sidewalks, curbs, bridge decks and other concrete structures.

Concrete finishers apply architectural, exposed, patterned or stamped, broomed and smooth finishes on concrete surfaces. They are skilled at repairing, waterproofing and restoring concrete surfaces. They have the knowledge to properly use dry pack grouting and epoxy materials, and understand how to cure concrete perfectly.

In general, concrete finishers:

  • place wet concrete into the forms and spread it to a specified depth and
  • level and smooth the surface, round the edges, and make joints or grooves to help control cracking on the surface.

Although machines are used to trowel large areas such as warehouses and arena floors, hand trowelling is still required for hard to reach spots in corners, edges, and around pipes. The surface may be:

  • trowelled to a smooth finish,
  • brushed to create a coarse, nonskid finish,
  • embedded with gravel chips for an exposed aggregate finish,
  • patterned or stamped to apply decorative surface, or
  • trowelled with a dye to create a coloured surface.

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

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Working Conditions

Concrete finishers work both outdoors and indoors, at tasks that are fast-paced and strenuous. Travel may be required to get to construction sites.

Outdoor work can be affected by adverse weather conditions. There is less work available in the winter, and summer hours are often longer than the standard 40-hour week. Overtime is sometimes required because concrete finishers cannot leave a project in the middle and return to it the next day.

There is some risk of injury from working on uneven footing and from other construction-site hazards, and the work involves considerable bending, stooping and kneeling.

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Skills and Abilities

The work is most rewarding for those who take pride in seeing the results of their work, and enjoy physical exercise and working with their hands.

To be successful in their trade, concrete finishers must have:

  • the physical strength, stamina and ability to use proper lifting techniques required to shovel and move wet concrete sometimes in excess of 25 kilograms, and
  • the ability to get along well with other workers.

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Employment and Advancement

Most concrete finishers are employed by general contractors involved in building highways, bridges and large buildings, and by contractors who do only concrete work. A few concrete finishers are self-employed, contracting their services for smaller projects such as patios, sidewalks and driveways. Employment prospects for concrete finishers vary with the seasons and with economic conditions.

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $20 to $35 an hour, plus benefits.

Experienced concrete finishers may specialize in a particular type of work, advance to supervisory positions or become contract estimators.

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Working in Alberta

To work as a concrete finisher 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.

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Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a concrete finisher is 3 years (three 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1200 hours of on-the-job training and 4 weeks of technical training in the first and second years, and 1200 hours of on-the-job training in the third year.

  • An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the concrete finisher 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 apprentice 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.  For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
  • 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 concrete finisher 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 among their current employees.

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 concrete finishers earn at least 65 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 75 percent in the second, and 85 percent in the third year.
  • complete all program requirements as identified in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
    - select an educational institution that offers training for concrete finisher apprentices, and a time to attend training
    - determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
  • review books and materials required for training
  • successfully complete all required exams

Apprentices may attempt the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.

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.

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Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

A concrete finisher 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.

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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.

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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.

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