Plastering is considered one of the oldest trades in the building profession. Plastering is, in a nutshell, putting plaster on walls and ceilings, using materials that form both a sound- and fire-proof service. Plastering also consists of using plaster veneer over drywall to make a textured finish, and installing prefabricated insulation systems and cast ornaments. There are several types of plastering; notable types include dry lining, wherein a lining is applied to an interior wall that does not need to be plastered; and fibrous, wherein the material used will be fibrous, composed of plaster laid upon the back of canvas that have been stretched on work. A good plasterer will know the difference in types, and when the most suitable time is to use them.
Plastering is, in some ways, a job that holds great responsibility. Although the tasks may seem minor to some people, a plasterer’s work can be the difference between a strong, steady wall and a wall with plenty of cracks and holes in it. Obviously, this can lead to weaker foundations for a home and, consequently, major structural risk and damage. This explains why plasterers are in high demand, and why they are often the recipients of high praise once a job is completed.
Training to be a Plasterer
To take the first step on the ladder to becoming a plasterer, you will require training, in the form of an apprenticeship scheme. Funding for apprenticeships is available for 16-24 year olds, mainly, although it is also available for some over 25’s, depending on their circumstances. In order to be eligible for an apprenticeship, you will need some GCSE grades in such subjects as Mathematics, English Literature and Design Technology. Equivalent qualifications such as the Edexcel Introductory Certificate or a Diploma in Construction would also be accepted.
During your training, you will be aiming to achieve a number of qualifications.
These include: the City & Guilds Basic Skills in Construction Certificate; the Intermediate/Advanced Award; and the Entry Level Certificate in Preparation for Employment. From there, you should look to gain some work experience, which will provide you with on-the-job training. However, to establish a successful career, it is recommended at this point that you try to earn an NVQ in Plastering. These are available at a number of training centres around the UK.
NVQ’s are work based assessments, meaning that you have to be working in order for an assessor to visit you. Despite the difficulties you may face in finding work, the City & Guilds Certificate that you earned during your training should help you to find employment eventually. You can then explain to your employer that you want to be assessed for an NVQ.
You will firstly have an interview with your assessor, during which an action plan will be arranged. NVQ’s are achieved through on-the-job assessment, during which an assessor will arrange to visit you at your workplace, and will observe and question you regarding your job.
Your assessor will sign off individual units when candidates are ready, testing your knowledge, understanding and work performance as you demonstrate your competence in the workplace. You will receive advice on their observations as well as any other guidance.
The assessor will then tell you if you have passed the assessment as competent for each unit. Once you have passed each unit, you will have earned the whole NVQ. There is also an equivalent qualification available in Scotland, known as the SVQ. The structure for the SVQ course is very similar to that of the NVQ.
Other Requirements Needed to Become a Plasterer
What Employers Are Looking For
There are a number of qualities that employers expect a plasterer to have. More than anything, a plasterer must have adequate practical skills when it comes to working with tools. He/she should also have the ability to work quickly, accurately and as part of a team.
In addition, a plasterer needs to possess numerical skills, in order to calculate surface areas and volumes of material. They should have the creative ability for fibrous plastering and other decorative work. A plasterer needs to be relatively fit, and should be more than aware of any potential health and safety issues.
How Much Money Will I Make as a Plasterer in the UK?
The starting salary for a plasterer will be between £16,000 and £20,000 per annum, depending on whom you work for and where the business is based. As you gain experience, over time that figure should rise to at least £28,000 a year, if not more. However, if you are a self-employed plasterer, then your salary will be determined by how often you work. The more you work, the more money you can make. Keep in mind, though, that for self-employed plasterers, different jobs will pay different amounts of money. There will also be times for self-employed plasterers when the jobs are few and far between. So, for self-employed plasterers, a salary will not be determined annually, but on a job-by-job basis.
Pros and Cons of Becoming a Plasterer in the UK
As with many jobs, there are positives and negatives to being a plasterer. The key pros and cons of this line of work are listed below.
• No formal qualifications required (all awards are earned through training)
• Customers are genuinely thankful for your work
• Self-employed plasterers can manage their own work schedule
• Plenty of opportunities to work overtime, resulting in higher pay
• Can be difficult to arrange work experience after an apprenticeship
• A lot of patience is required to complete certain tasks
• Major problems at home for customers if work isn’t completed correctly
• Self-employed plasterers could go a long time without any work
Helpful Contact Information
The job of a plasterer is not for everyone, due to the different tasks involved and the generally physical nature of the position. That said, if you believe this would be the right career path to follow, there are several contacts that you should be aware of. These can educate you on how to arrange apprenticeships, advice on the NVQ, or simply further information on the life of a plasterer.
For details on the different roles, skills required and necessary qualifications of a plasterer, visit:
For further information on becoming a plasterer, which includes information on apprenticeships and the NVQ qualification, visit:
For advice on plastering courses from a Government-approved training centre, contact:
NE Plastering & Construction Training
Unit 1 Shaftesbury Avenue
Tyne and Wear