37 per week
£14,000 + per year
If you want a job in construction, and you can work with your hands quickly and accurately, this job could be a good choice for you.
As a plasterer, you apply different kinds of plaster to internal walls and ceilings so that they are ready for decorating. You could also cover outside walls with coatings, such as sand and cement render or pebble-dash.
In this job you will need maths skills to work out how much plaster you need for the size of job. You'll also need to be physically fit and able to work as part of a team. You may be able to start in this job by doing an Apprenticeship scheme.
You would normally be part of a small team, and work in one of the following:
- solid plastering – applying wet finishes to surfaces and putting protective coverings like pebble-dashing on external walls
- fibrous plastering – creating ornamental plasterwork, such as ceiling roses, cornices, and architraves, using a mixture of plaster and short fibres shaped with moulds and casts
- dry lining – fixing internal plasterboard or wallboard partitions by fastening them together on a timber or metal frame ready for decorating
You could work on small-scale domestic jobs, repairs and restoration or on big commercial developments such as schools or hospitals.
Working hours and conditions
You would work around 39 hours a week, Monday to Friday, although weekend or evening work may be necessary to meet deadlines.
As a solid plasterer, you would be expected to work indoors and outdoors – this could be on existing buildings or on building sites. As a fibrous plasterer you would usually be based in a workshop, but may also make site visits.
You would often be working at heights from access platforms or scaffolding. For most jobs, you would be expected to wear personal protective equipment such as hard hat, overalls/hi-viz jacket, safety glasses, gloves and safety footwear.
Starting salaries can be between £14,000 and £17,000 a year. Qualified plasterers can earn from £17,500 to £25,000 or more.
Overtime and shift allowances will increase earnings. Self-employed plasterers negotiate their own rates.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You do not usually need formal qualifications to become a plasterer, but employers may prefer you to have some on-site experience. You may be able to get this experience by working as a plasterer's 'mate' or labourer.
You could get into this career by taking an Apprenticeship scheme with a plastering, drylining or building firm. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. For more information, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Another option is to take a college course in plastering to learn some of the skills needed for the job. Courses include:
- Level 1 Award/Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (Plastering)
- Level 1 Certificate in Construction and Building (Plastering Skills)
- Level 1/2 Certificate/Diploma in Plastering
- Level 1/2 Certificate/Diploma in Construction Crafts (Plastering)
Visit the CITB and bConstructive websites for more information on construction careers and qualifications.
Training and development
Once you are in employment, you could take further training towards qualifications, such as:
- Level 3 Diploma in Plastering (Construction)
- Level 2/3 (NVQ) Diploma in Plastering (Construction)
These qualifications include units on:
- technical information and quantities
- applying plastering materials and render to indoor and outdoor surfaces
- producing plasterwork components from moulds
- installing components
- health and safety
With experience, you could take specialist training for an Level 3 (NVQ) Diploma in Heritage Skills (Construction). This is designed to meet the demand for traditional craft skills used in the repair and conservation of historical buildings.
See the National Heritage Training Group in the More information section for details about working in building conservation.
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Many building contractors will want you to have a CSCS card before you can work on their sites. The card is proof of your skills and ability to carry out the job safely. To get your card, you must:
- pass the CITB Health, Safety and Environment test
- prove your occupational competence (by holding appropriate qualifications).
If you are working without qualifications, you may be able to use the On-site Assessment Workshop or Experienced Worker Practical Assessment (EWPA) schemes to gain a qualification and qualify for a CSCS card. See the Assessment Workshop and EWPA websites and contact CSCS in the More information section for details.
The Traditional Building Skills Bursary scheme offers bursaries and organises work-based training placements for people who want to develop their skills in these areas. Visit the Traditional Building Skills Bursary Scheme website to find out if you are eligible for the scheme.
Skills, interests and qualities
To be a plasterer, you will need to have:
- good practical skills
- the ability to work quickly and accurately
- maths skills for calculating surface areas and volumes of materials
- a reasonable level of fitness
- the ability to work as part of a team
- creative skills for fibrous plastering and other decorative work
- an awareness of health and safety issues
National Heritage Training Group
Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Tel: 0344 994 4777
Tel: 0344 994 4400
The Heritage Crafts Association
You could work for specialist plastering firms, building contractors, local authorities and other public organisations. With experience, you could also become self-employed and work as a sub-contractor.
You could progress to supervisory jobs or move into other areas, like tiling, estimating and site management.
You may find the following links useful for job vacancies and general reading:
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