Although most drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers learn their trade informally on the job, a few learn through a formal apprenticeship.
Most drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers learn their trade informally by helping more experienced workers and gradually being given more duties. They start by carrying materials, lifting, and cleaning up. They learn to use the tools of the trade. Then they learn to measure, cut, and install or apply materials. Employers usually give some on-the-job training that may last from 1 to 12 months.
A few drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers learn their trade through a 3- or 4-year apprenticeship. For each year of the program, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical work and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. During training, apprentices learn construction basics related to blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices.
After completing an apprenticeship program, drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers are considered journey workers and may perform duties on their own.
A few groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications for entering an apprenticeship program are as follows:
Although there are no formal education requirements to become a drywall and ceiling tile installer and taper, high school math and general shop courses are considered useful.
Math skills. Drywall and ceiling tile installers and tapers use basic math skills on every job. For example, they must be able to estimate the quantity of materials needed and accurately measure for cutting panels.
Physical strength. Standard drywall sheets can weigh 50 to 100 pounds. Also, drywall and ceiling tile installers often must lift heavy pieces of material over their heads to put on the ceiling.
Stamina. Because drywall and ceiling tile installers constantly lift and move heavy materials into place, they should have excellent physical stamina.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition