Stucco Mason Degree, Certificate and Career Training Information
Read about degree and certificate programs available for aspiring stucco masons. Get information on associate's degrees, diplomas, and apprenticeship programs, along with commonly offered courses, employment outlook and continuing education options.
A stucco mason applies wet stucco or plaster to the wall of a building so it can dry strong and hard. The chief means of entering this trade is to complete a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship program. Stand-alone diploma or associate's degree programs are rare, but they could give a student advanced standing in an apprenticeship. In some cases, students who complete a diploma or associate's degree program in masonry can qualify for entry-level construction work.
Stucco Mason Career Training: Apprenticeship
An apprenticeship in stucco masonry combines classroom courses with lots of hands-on work, supervised by an experienced plasterer. The program may last 3-4 years, but students get paid. Typically, wages start at half the rate for a journeyman (qualified stucco mason) and increase until the student becomes a journeyman.
Apprenticeship applications may be handled through a local professional organization or union office. Applicants for apprenticeship must be 18 years old with a GED or high school diploma. Ideally, they should have taken basic math, English, shop courses and science during high school.
Apprentices may need good transportation and may need to pass drug tests. Classes in safety and first aid are important. Some programs may keep new apprentices on probation for a while, and some require that apprentice hopefuls find an employer to sponsor them.
Before masons can get to work, they must be able to read the plans and use their tools well. Plaster, stucco and insulation are some of the topics that apprentices study. Others include:
- Blueprint reading
- Masonry tool use
- Interior plastering
- Exterior plastering
- Ornamental plastering
- Exterior insulation
- Firestopping systems
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Plasterers are needed all around the country to finish the interior walls of homes. Stucco masons who usually apply stucco to the exteriors of homes may find the best job prospects in southern states, where stucco-work houses may be more popular, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Career prospects should be good for people who have work experience and good job histories (www.bls.gov).
The BLS reported that the number of job openings for stucco masons and plasterers would increase by seventeen percent from 2010 until 2020. Nationwide, the 2012 average wage for stucco masons and plasterers was about $41,860 per year. California employed the most of these professionals, where they earned an average $23.61 per hour or $49,110 per year. On average, the best-paid stucco masons were in New York, where they earned an average of $31.39 an hour, or $65,290 annually.
After completing apprenticeship and getting on-the-job experience, the journeyman stucco mason could consider becoming a foreman or a teacher. The Instructor Certification Program offered by the International Masonry Institute, (www.imiweb.org), accepts stucco masons who have five or more years of journeyman experience. The program includes 200 hours of instruction and is completed over five years. It teaches personnel management, building procedures, harassment awareness and safety.
The International Masonry Institute offers foreman or superintendent certification for masons who want to be supervisors at the construction site. Foreman level certification takes 16 hours of instruction in supervision, management, productivity and professional relationships. Superintendent level certification requires an additional 16 hours of instruction.
Associate's Degree in Construction Technology (Masonry)
An associate's degree program can prepare someone for advanced apprenticeship with a stucco mason or plasterer as well as for entry-level positions with a construction company. They can learn skills of running a business as well as the practical ability to lay plaster or stucco.
Those who wish to pursue a masonry associate's degree will need a high school diploma with transcripts showing classes in math, English and science. They must be able-bodied so they can perform the tasks involved in masonry.
A masonry associate's degree blends hands-on practical skill with more abstract knowledge that workers in the trades will need. This type of career education may include the following courses:
- Masonry theory
- Masonry skills
- Blueprint reading
- Cost estimation
- Building permit requirements
Popular Career Options
An associate's degree may be the student's ticket into higher-level career training or even another type of basic masonry job. Graduates can pursue the following positions:
- Apprentice mason
- Cement mason
- Tile setter
- Customer service representative
Craftsman Diploma in Masonry
This program covers essential tools and techniques of stucco masonry, tiles and bricks. Students can also learn about masonry work with concrete, plaster, glass and other building materials. Other courses cover cost estimation, contracting and other important skills for trades work.
Science, math and English are important classes for a would-be stucco mason, as are any shop classes available. The potential student should have completed a high school diploma, ideally with a C average. Aptitude tests of math knowledge, reasoning, verbal comprehension and mechanical ability may be required.
Would-be masons need to learn how to use their tools safely as well as how to create decorative and functional walls and other surfaces. The following courses are examples of classes that masonry students take:
- Tool use in masonry
- Mortar spreading
- Safety at the construction site
- Tile surface setting and repair
- Decorative stucco work
Popular Career Options
With a masonry diploma, students can apply for these and other jobs at a construction site. They will be advanced apprentices or even entry-level tradesmen. Their main role may be:
- Apprentice mason
- Tile setter
- Concrete worker
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