- Do you like working with wood?
- Are you good with your hands?
- Are you precise and accurate in your work?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as an Exterior Finisher could be right for you.
Exterior finishers build, install and repair exterior siding, trim and stairs on single- and multi-family homes and commercial buildings. They are employed by construction companies, carpentry contractors and maintenance departments, or they may be self-employed.
As an Exterior Finisher, your duties may include the following:
- Selecting, measuring and marking materials for exterior siding, trim or stairs
- Cutting and shaping materials and joining them with nails, screws, bolts or glue
- Developing work plans
- Reading and interpreting blueprints
The standard work week for exterior finishers is 40 hours (8 hours a day, 5 days a week). As with many careers in construction, there are peak periods that will require you to work overtime. The number of additional hours you work each week depends on the construction sector and region you work in, and will vary from one job to the next.
As an Exterior Finisher, you will usually work outdoors on residential construction sites, often in collaboration with other carpenters and construction professionals.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Exterior finishers are trained to work safely and wear personal protective equipment such as hard hats, gloves and steel-toed boots.
Training and Certification
Apprenticeship involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Exterior Finisher, called a journeyperson.
As an apprentice, you earn while you learn and are paid by the hour while working on the job site. Wages start at about 50 per cent of a journeyperson’s hourly rate and increase during your apprenticeship until you reach the full rate.
Entering an apprenticeship program
Requirements for exterior finisher apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. You are usually required to complete secondary school. You may find it helpful to enrol in math, shop, industrial arts and mechanical drawing courses in high school.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as an Exterior Finisher.
Apprenticeship training programs for exterior finishers vary across Canada, but generally involve at least one 12-month period, including both on-the-job training and in-class technical training.
Related work experience or completion of an exterior finishing program at a college or technical institute can reduce the time required to complete your apprenticeship.
Certification is available but voluntary in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. Where certification is not available, it may be possible to study as an apprentice through your local labour organization. Check out our Related links to find out who to contact. Even where certification is voluntary, it is still recommended. Certification tells employers and other workers that you are a skilled professional. It also helps you get jobs.
To be certified as an Exterior Finisher, you usually need to complete an apprenticeship program. Once you successfully complete the required on-the-job training, technical training and exams, you are awarded a journeyperson certificate.
You may be eligible for certification if you have on-the-job experience and some high school, college or industry courses in exterior finishing.
To keep their skills current, Exterior Finishers must keep up with new technology developments by reading and talking with others in their field.