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How to Become a Cement Mason or Terrazzo Worker

Although most cement masons and terrazzo workers learn informally on the job, some learn their trade through a formal apprenticeship.


Most on-the-job training programs consist of informal instruction in which experienced workers teach helpers to use the tools, equipment, machines, and materials of the trade. Trainees begin with tasks such as edging, jointing, and using a straightedge on freshly placed concrete. As training progresses, assignments become more complex and trainees can usually do finishing work more quickly.

Some cement masons and terrazzo workers learn their trade through a 3-year apprenticeship.  Each year, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of technical instruction and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. Apprentices learn construction basics such as blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices.   

After completing an apprenticeship program, cement masons and terrazzo workers are considered to be journey workers, qualifying them to do tasks on their own. 

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are

Some contractors have their own cement masonry or terrazzo training programs. Although workers may enter apprenticeships directly, many start out as helpers or construction laborers. For more information, see the profile on construction laborers.   


While there are no specific education requirements for cement masons and concrete finishers, terrazzo workers must usually have a high school diploma. High school courses in math, mechanical drawing, and blueprint reading are considered to helpful.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Terrazzo workers must determine small color variances when setting terrazzo patterns. Because these patterns often include many different colors, terrazzo workers must be able to distinguish between colors for the best looking finish.

Physical strength. Cement masons and terrazzo workers must be able to lift and carry heavy materials. For example, the forms into which concrete is poured are often large and heavy. 

Stamina. Cement masons and terrazzo workers must be able to spend a lot of time kneeling, bending, and reaching.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition