- Are you strong?
- Do you have an eye for detail?
- Would you enjoy working with precision tools?
- Are you creative?
- Do you like a challenge?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then a career as a Plasterer/Drywall Installer and Finisher/Lather could be right for you.
Plasterers apply finish and maintain and restore plaster or similar materials on interior and exterior walls, ceilings and building partitions to produce plain or decorative surfaces.
Drywall installers and finishers install and finish drywall sheets and various types of ceiling systems.
Lathers install support framework for ceiling systems, interior and exterior walls and building partitions.
Plasterers, drywall installers and finishers, and lathers are employed by construction companies and by plastering and drywalling contractors or they may be self-employed.
As a Plasterer, your duties may include the following:
- Applying, levelling and smoothing coats of plaster
- Spraying coats of stucco over the exteriors of buildings to form weatherproof surfaces
- Cleaning and preparing surfaces
- Mixing plaster ingredients
- Finishing corners and angles and creating decorative designs
- Spraying finish over walls and ceilings
As a Drywall Installer and Finisher, your duties may include the following:
- Measuring, cutting and fitting drywall sheets for installation on walls and ceilings
- Positioning and securing drywall sheets to metal or wooden studs
- Cutting and installing metal corner beads to protect exterior corners
- Filling joints, holes and cracks with compound using a trowel and broad knife
- Smoothing out excess compound and sanding over dry compound
As a Lather, your duties may include the following:
- Preparing wall and ceiling layouts
- Installing metal stud framing and furring for interior drywall or plaster walls and ceilings, using hand and power tools
- Attaching metal or gypsum lath to studs or furring using nails, screws, clips or wire ties
- Cutting openings in lath for heating and ventilation piping, ducts and electrical outlets
- Installing corner beads and wire mesh around beams to which plaster is to be applied
- Installing acoustic tile, hangers for suspended ceilings and metal studs for composition wallboard or lath
The standard work week for plasterers, drywall installers and finishers, and lathers 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 a Plasterer/Drywall Installer and Finisher/Lather, you will work mostly indoors, with some outdoor work. You may work alone or with other construction crew members. The job is physically demanding – you will be on your feet most of the time, working with heavy drywall sheets.
As with all careers in the construction industry, safety is the top priority. Plasterers, drywall installers and finishers, and lathers are trained to work safely and use equipment such as masks and safety goggles to protect themselves from dust.
Training and Certification
Apprenticeship involves both classroom studies and on-the-job training under the supervision of a certified Plasterer/Drywall Installer and Finisher/Lather, 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 45 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 plasterer/drywall installer and finisher/lather apprenticeship programs vary across Canada. In most provinces and territories, you must be at least 16 years old and have a Grade 10 education or equivalent to enter the program.
Some provinces and territories offer secondary school apprenticeship programs that allow high school students to work towards a career as a Plasterer/Drywall Installer and Finisher/Lather.
Apprenticeship training programs for plasterers, drywall installers and finishers, and lathers vary across Canada. They generally last four years, and include both on-the-job training and in-class technical training.
Related work experience or completion of a plasterer/drywall installer and finisher/lather program at a college or technical institute can reduce the time required to complete your apprenticeship.
Certification is required in Quebec, and is available but voluntary in most other provinces. Where certification is not available, it may be possible to study as an apprentice through your local labour organization.
Even where certification is voluntary, it is still recommended as it tells employers and other workers that you are a skilled professional, and it also helps you get jobs.
To be certified as a Plasterer/Drywall Installer and Finisher/Lather, you usually need to complete a three- to four-year 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 in some provinces and territories if you have more than three years of on-the-job experience and some high school, college or industry courses for plasterers/drywall installers and finishers/lathers.
As a certified Plasterer/Drywall Installer and Finisher/Lather, you may write the Interprovincial Exam to qualify for the Interprovincial Standards’ Red Seal. With a Red Seal, you can work as a Plasterer/Drywall Installer and Finisher/Lather anywhere in Canada.
To keep their skills current, those in this profession must keep up with new technologies by reading and speaking with others in their field.
Anticipated In-Demand Regions
- Nova Scotia
*The “mid range” wage is based on the national “median” wage reported in the Job Bank career profile for this National Occupational Category (NOC): 7284
Note: Some career profiles may have more than one NOC code associated with them.