Jobs in the construction industry often focus on one particular area of expertise. A drywall finisher is a skilled craftsman who takes over after the drywall panel hangers leave, and it’s his job to prepare the wall for paint, texture or wall covering.
Preparing and Repairing Walls
A drywall finisher is responsible for applying drywall compound to the seams between drywall panels and to nail and screw indentations on the surface of the panels. The finisher will work on new walls and ceilings, and may repair existing walls as well. He may prepare high walls and ceilings that require the use of ladders or scaffolding.
Learning by Apprenticeship
While some trade schools offer limited courses in drywall installation and finishing, hands-on experience is the most common method of training for this career. Contractors may offer apprenticeship programs to help the drywall finisher learn the trade. A typical apprenticeship program requires approximately 6,000 hours of hands-on experience, or about three years.
Many construction companies will not hire anyone under 18, On construction jobs where the workforce is unionized, the drywall finisher may have to join a local union in order to work on the project. Individual project managers may require a drywall finisher to provide former references that validate her work history. Math skills and some physical strength are often needed for the job.
An independent drywall finisher will have her own tools, while a finisher who works for a larger company may use the company’s tools. Standard taping tools, mixers, buckets, knives and trowels are required, and some jobs may require additional tools, such as drywall stilts, tape and mud dispensers, and hand tools that smooth drywall compound into rounded or arched shapes.
The mean annual salary for a drywall finisher was $45,290 as of May 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top ten percent earned more than $72,500. About 19 percent are self-employed, according to the BLS.
2016 Salary Information for Drywall and Ceiling Tile Installers, and Tapers
Drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers earned a median annual salary of $42,390 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers earned a 25th percentile salary of $33,870, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $57,320, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 143,200 people were employed in the U.S. as drywall and ceiling tile installers, and tapers.