How to Learn the Job of Flooring Installation

Most installers gain their training as helpers working for flooring installation contractors and learn informally on the job. When they are first hired, helpers are assigned simple tasks, such as tacking down strips. As they gain skills and experience, they are given more difficult work, such as measuring and cutting. It may take an installer 18 months to two years of informal on-the-job training to learn the basics of carpet laying or resilient floor laying.

Apprenticeship programs, which often last three to four years, usually provide much more complete training in all phases of installation. Some apprenticeships teach installation of both types of flooring, while others specialize in just one covering. Apprentices work under the supervision of experienced installers and typically attend classes in related subjects once a week.

A part-time or summer job as a helper working for a flooring installation contractor is the best way to gain experience and might even lead you to full-time employment later. Taking part in a home improvement project, such as installing vinyl floor tiles, would also provide an opportunity to try out the work.

There are approximately 167,000 floor covering installers employed in the United States. About half of all installers are self-employed. Others work for contractors, many of which now specialize in carpet alone. Experienced installers may work for floor covering manufacturers or retailers, either as installers or as sales representatives.

After gaining experience as a helper and learning skills on the job, you can apply directly to floor covering contractors and retailers. For specific job leads, you could check the listings in newspaper classified ads or the local offices of the state employment service. Information on apprenticeships in the area may be available from contractors, the state employment service, or the local offices of unions to which some installers belong, such as the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Installers who work for large floor-laying firms may be promoted to supervisor positions. Installers who are familiar with the business and can communicate effectively can move into sales jobs with retailers of flooring products. They could also become cost estimators-workers who measure floors, compute areas, and figure costs using their knowledge of the materials and labor required for various kinds of installations. With experience and a client base, many installers decide to go into business for themselves as independent subcontractors.

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