Duties and responsibilities
A concrete finisher uses moulds to create concrete blocks for building projects. They also spread and level poured concrete to create smooth finishes for surfaces like roads, pavements, floors and curbs, using a variety of specialist equipment. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:
- Producing and checking concrete forms (moulds)
- Mixing concrete to the correct specifications
- Setting and aligning the forms
- Spreading, levelling and smoothing concrete using a variety of specialist equipment
- Moulding expansion joints and edges
- Monitoring the effects of weather on concrete
- Facilitating with concrete pouring
To become a concrete finisher, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. You will then need to complete an apprenticeship program, during which you will ‘shadow’ experienced concrete finishers.
Skills and relevant work experience
In order to have the best possible employment opportunities, concrete finishers should aim to get as much experience in the construction industry as possible. Concrete finishers also need skills such as:
- Physical fitness and stamina, as concrete is heavy and concrete finishers will have to carefully move this around
- Dexterity, as brickmasons must be able to place concrete with precision
- Communication skills are key as concrete finishers need to be able to communicate with clients and other construction workers (e.g., brickmasons)
- Detail orientation, as concrete finishers must be very precise in their work. They need to ensure they pour the correct amount of concrete and that they mix the correct amount
- Critical thinking, as concrete finishers must be able to problem-solve when issues arise in a project. Such issues may include a project running on for longer than expected or the materials ordered being the wrong size
Concrete finishers tend to work full time. Due to weather conditions, such as extreme heat and the need to have some concrete laid overnight, concrete finishers may start work early in the morning. They may also have to work additional hours when working towards a deadline or if things go wrong.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for masonry workers was $46,500 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,250. Concrete finishers specifically earned a median annual salary of $44,810.
The top paying industries for all masonry workers were masonry contractors, where the median annual wage was $51,100. Followed by construction of buildings ($49,840), poured concrete foundation and structure contractors ($44,610) and heavy and civil engineering construction ($44,590).
The overall employment of masonry workers is set to decline over the next decade. However, concrete finishers can progress easily into supervisor, superintendent, or other construction management positions. Experienced concrete finishers may even choose to become independent contractors.