How To Become a Tile Setter in 5 Steps

Updated September 22, 2022

Working as a tile setter may allow you to use both artistic and construction skills. As a tile setter, you can work with clients to help them decide what kind of tile they want and where they can place the tile so it may enhance the quality of their home. Learning how to become a tile setter can help you decide if this is the right field for you. In this article, we discuss what tile setters are, which skills they use daily and how you can become a tile setter.

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What is a tile setter?

Tile setters are design professionals who cover interior and exterior walls in various types and styles of tile. They work with clients to choose between ceramic, quarry and marble tiles, and they may place tile on the floor, walls or ceilings within the designated room. Tile setters can work for construction companies, contractors or they may be self-employed.

What does a tile setter do?

Tile setters design and create ways to lay tile that improves the interior or exterior of a building. Their primary duties include:

  • Cutting tile so that it fits in the space: Tile setters use heavy machinery to cut tiles into custom shapes, ensuring a uniform tile pattern and consistent coverage. When using bulk tile, tile setters measure the dimensions to confirm the quality of their materials.

  • Marking surfaces so they know where to lay the tile: Tile setters typically mark surfaces using a pencil or design tool so they place tile accurately.

  • Measuring walls and floors so they cut enough material to cover: Since tile can be expensive, it's important they cut the exact amount of material they need to cover a surface so they don't waste material or money.

  • Mixing and spreading adhesives: Tile setters use adhesives like glue so the tile sticks to the wall for long periods of time.

  • Placing plaster between tiles: Tile setters must place plaster between tiles to act as a seal so the tiles will stay glued together.

  • Removing damaged or cracked tiles: Clients may call tile setters to repair or remove damaged tile and replace it with new tile.

  • Generating costs and quotes for clients: They usually give their clients an estimate for how much the services and material may cost to keep clients informed of how much they might spend.

Tile setter skills

Here are several skills that may be useful for a tile setter:

  • Detail-oriented: Tile setters take precise measurements so they can fit tiles together neatly and accurately. Paying close attention to detail can ensure your tiles fit together and can cut back down on errors, which saves time and money.

  • Computer skills: It's important that you have excellent computer skills that allow you to use software that can help you design tiles, input measurements and calculate customer cost for services.

  • Physical endurance: Tile setters must have excellent physical endurance since they can spend many hours a day on their feet while setting tile. They may also squat to set floor tiles, kneel to set wall tile or stand on ladders to set ceiling tiles. Tile setters must also possess physical strength so they can carry heavier tile, sometimes upstairs or up a ladder.

  • Customer service: Tile setters often work in people's homes, so it's essential they have great customer service skills. They must be considerate when listening to their client's needs so they can set the tile however the customer requests.

Related: Guide To Customer Service

How to become a tile setter

You can follow these steps to assist you in becoming a professional tile setter:

1. Earn a diploma or GED

To become a tile setter, you must first graduate high school or complete a GED program. While completing this step, you can take courses that may help you improve the skills needed to become a tile setter. Contact your guidance counselor or program coordinator to see if they offer these courses or courses similar to these. These courses can include:

  • Woodworking: A course in woodworking can teach you how to use the tools and equipment tile setters may use daily, like circular saws and electric cutters. A woodworking course offers the chance to learn how to safely and properly use these tools while under supervision.

  • Math: In math class, you can learn how to take proper measurements, which tile setters use to measure and cut tile accurately. You can also use your knowledge of addition and subtraction as you offer clients cost estimates for your services.

  • Art: Tile setters lay tile so that it looks nice and compliments the interior or exterior space. They also choose colors that match the room the tile is going into. An art class may help you get an idea of the best ways to choose and set tile in the most aesthetically pleasing way.

2. Gain experience

To gain experience as a tile setter, you may apply for an apprenticeship and entry-level jobs that provide on-the-job training. Apprenticeships and entry-level jobs teach you the responsibilities of the trade and help you gain experience within the field. During your apprenticeship, you can observe other tile setters as they work and familiarize yourself with using the tools, laying tile, taking measurements and sealing tile while collaborating with other tile setters. You may also learn how to interact with customers so that you can listen to their needs.

You can find apprenticeships by looking online to see if any tile businesses are looking for trainees, or you can contact local trade schools to see if they offer apprenticeship programs.

Related: How To Find an Apprenticeship Program

3. Get certified

Though you don't need to get certified to become a tile setter, customers may be more willing to hire you if you are certified. Certification also offers you extensive knowledge on the newest updates, techniques and equipment innovations within the field. The most common certification for tile setters is the Certified Tile Installer (CTI), offered by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation, which teaches you the fundamentals of tile installation and setting.

4. Network with other tile setters

Establishing relationships with other tile setters can be a great way to familiarize yourself with the industry. Connecting with other tile setters may offer job opportunities, internships, apprenticeships or volunteer opportunities that offer experience and can help you build your skills. You can meet other tile setters by joining a professional association, like the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association or Tile Craftsman Global Network.

Related: 10 Tips To Help You Network Like a Pro

5. Update your resume

As you gain experience and certifications, be sure to update your resume accordingly so employers can see your full range of skills. You can include any achievements such as if a customer gave your services five stars or you can list the number of repeat customers you have.


The typical salary for tile setters can vary depending on their experience and location, but the average national salary for tile setters is $35,886 per year.

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Job outlook

Tile setting jobs are growing at an average rate, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job availability for tile setters is going to rise 3% through 2029. This can mean there may be many job opportunities and job security while working as a tile setter.

Please note that none of the organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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