Floor covering installers include a wide range of construction workers, each specializing in the materials with which they work. Resilient floor layers install, replace, and repair shock-absorbing, sound-deadening, or decorative floor covering such as vinyl tile and sheet vinyl on finished interior floors
of buildings. Carpet layers install carpets and rugs, most often wall-to-wall carpeting. Approximately 167,000 floor covering installers are employed in the United States.
Pay Scale for Carpet Installers
The earnings of floor covering installers vary depending on experience, geographic location, and whether wages are set by union contracts. Most installers are paid by the hour, but some are paid by the number of yards of flooring they install, a system that can benefit installers who work particularly fast.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the median hourly wage of carpet, floor, and tile installers was $14.46 in 2000. Most carpet installers averaged between $10.41 and $20.47 an hour in 2000; the lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.97 and the highest 10 percent earned more than $26.22 an hour. Beginning workers such as apprentices and assistants usually make half of what an experienced installer earns. Their wages increase as they gain on-the-job training.
Working Environment of Floor Installers
Although floor covering installers usually work in the daytime, some work is done at night or on weekends to minimize disruption, such as work done in offices and stores. The standard workweek is 35-40 hours. Installers usually receive overtime for weekend and holiday work. Self-employed installers may work very irregular hours.
Floor covering installation involves fewer hazards than other construction trades. The areas where installers work are usually indoors, well lighted, clean, and comfortable. However, they must have good physical endurance to do the bending, reaching, and stretching that are involved with the job. Installers may suffer knee and back injuries from constantly kneeling as they work and lifting heavy rolls of floor covering.
The Future Job Market for Installers
Over the next 10 years, employment of floor covering installers is expected to increase at a rate that is about as fast as the average for all occupations, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Carpet installers should have the best employment opportunities in the next several years. Most job opportunities that open up will probably occur when experienced workers leave the field for other occupations or retire.
However, even during economic downturns, when new construction levels drop drastically, the need to renovate existing buildings will make employment opportunities available to installers.