CAREER PATHWAYS

Looking for the perfect job?
Explore our Career Guides!

Read More

How to Become a Concrete Finisher

By Lace Brunsden

Published:

If you like the idea of transforming raw concrete into smooth, beautiful surfaces, a career as a concrete finisher might be the perfect fit for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at how to become a concrete finisher, and whether or not it is a suitable option for you personally. 

Career Summary

Concrete Finisher Salary

Let’s see how much concrete finishers usually make, according to Glassdoor:

  • Entry Salary (US$40k)
  • Median Salary (US$48k)
  • Executive Salary (US$58k)

In most entry-level and median positions, the salaries that you can expect are slightly less than the general average income of US citizens.

What does a Concrete Finisher do?

As part of the concrete finisher job description, you would be responsible for the final stage of concrete construction, which involves the preparation and enhancement of concrete surfaces. Your primary tasks would include pouring and leveling concrete, applying finishing techniques to achieve desired textures and appearances, and ensuring the overall quality and durability of the concrete surface.

Concrete Finisher Career Progression

  • Concrete Finisher Apprentice/Helper: This is the entry-level position where you can start learning the basics of concrete finishing under the guidance of experienced professionals.
  • Concrete Finisher: You can independently carry out concrete finishing tasks, including pouring, leveling, and applying various finishing techniques to achieve desired surface textures and appearances.
  • Lead Concrete Finisher/Foreman: You will oversee a team of concrete finishers, coordinate tasks, ensure quality standards, and provide guidance on proper techniques and safety protocols.
  • Concrete Finisher Supervisor/Manager: As a concrete finisher supervisor, you will be responsible for overseeing multiple projects, managing teams of finishers, scheduling work, coordinating with clients and contractors, and ensuring project success.
  • Construction Superintendent: In larger construction companies or organizations, you may have the opportunity to move into the role of a construction superintendent. In this role, you are responsible for overseeing multiple construction projects, managing budgets, coordinating various trades, and ensuring overall project efficiency and quality.
  • Construction Project Manager: At the executive level, some concrete finishers may transition into project management roles. If you decide to become a construction project manager, you will take on broader responsibilities, including managing construction projects from start to finish, coordinating all aspects of construction, and overseeing budgets and schedules.
Concrete Finisher Career Progression

Pros:

  • Hands-on Work
  • Job Stability and Demand
  • Tangible Results
  • Potential for Self-Employment
  • Contributing to the Built Environment

Cons:

  • Physical Demands
  • Exposure to Dust and Chemicals
  • Seasonal Fluctuations
  • Repetitive Nature of Tasks
  • Lack of Recognition

Useful Skills to Have as a Concrete Finisher

  • Concrete Knowledge
  • Finishing Techniques
  • Equipment Operation
  • Surface Preparation
  • Safety Awareness

Popular Concrete Finisher Specialties

  • Decorative Concrete Finisher
  • Concrete Restoration Specialist
  • Architectural Concrete Finisher
  • Flatwork Finisher
  • Green Concrete Finisher

How to become a Concrete Finisher

Concrete Finisher 5 Steps to Career

If you decide to become a concrete finisher, you will need a combination of practical experience and formal training. Here are some common steps to help you become a concrete finisher:

Seek Apprenticeship or Internship Opportunities

You should consider applying for an apprenticeship program offered by trade unions, construction companies, or professional associations. Apprenticeships provide hands-on training under the guidance of experienced concrete finishers and allow you to earn while you learn.

What are the Internship Opportunities for a Concrete Finisher?

  • Construction companies: You can reach out to local construction companies that specialize in concrete work or general contracting. Inquire about internship opportunities or express your interest in gaining practical experience as a concrete finisher. Construction companies often have projects involving concrete where they may be open to offering internships.
  • Concrete suppliers and manufacturers: Concrete suppliers and manufacturers often have internship programs that allow you to gain insights into the concrete industry. You may work closely with concrete materials, learn about various mixtures and applications, and get exposure to different aspects of concrete finishing.
  • Trade unions and professional associations: Sometimes, trade unions and professional associations related to the construction industry may have internship programs or resources to connect aspiring concrete finishers such as yourself with internship opportunities. You can contact your local union or professional association to inquire about internships or seek guidance on finding suitable placements.
  • Vocational schools and training programs: Some vocational schools or training programs may have partnerships with construction companies or industry contacts that can help facilitate an internship for you. Inquire with the schools or programs you are interested in to see if they have internship placement services or connections with local employers.

Learn the Skills Required to Work as a Concrete Finisher

What Skills Will I Learn As a Concrete Finisher?

As a concrete finisher, you will acquire a range of skills that are essential for performing the tasks involved in concrete finishing.

Here are some of the key skills you can expect to learn:

  • Concrete placement and leveling: You will learn how to properly place and distribute concrete to achieve a level surface. This involves techniques such as screeding, striking off excess concrete, and using straightedges or leveling tools to ensure uniformity.
  • Finishing techniques: As a concrete finisher you will learn various techniques to achieve the desired surface texture and appearance. These techniques may include smoothing and troweling the concrete, applying different types of finishes (e.g., broom finish, exposed aggregate, stamped patterns), and creating decorative effects.
  • Tool and equipment operation: You will become proficient in handling and operating a range of tools and equipment used in concrete finishing. This includes trowels, floats, edgers, groovers, brushes, power screeds, and other specialized tools. You will learn how to use these tools effectively and safely.
  • Surface repair and restoration: Concrete finishers often need to repair and restore damaged or deteriorated concrete surfaces. You will learn techniques for patching cracks, filling voids, and applying overlays to enhance the appearance and functionality of the concrete.
  • Understanding concrete properties: As a concrete finisher, you will develop knowledge about concrete materials, their properties, and how different mixtures and additives affect the workability and performance of the concrete. This understanding helps in adjusting the mix and timing the finishing process appropriately.
  • Safety practices: Safety is paramount in concrete work. You will learn safety protocols and practices to protect yourself and others on the job site. This includes knowledge of personal protective equipment (PPE), proper lifting techniques, hazard identification, and adherence to safety regulations.

Obtain Certifications

While not always mandatory, certifications can enhance your credibility and employability as a concrete finisher. Look into certifications like the American Concrete Institute (ACI) Concrete Flatwork Finisher/Technician certification or other regional certifications that may be available.

How do I Get an ACI Concrete Flatwork Finisher/Technician Certificate

To obtain an American Concrete Institute (ACI) Concrete Flatwork Finisher/Technician certification, you can follow these general steps:

  • Prepare for the certification exam: Familiarize yourself with the knowledge, skills, and practices required for concrete flatwork finishing. ACI provides a detailed certification program study guide that outlines the topics covered in the exam. Review this guide and gather relevant study materials, such as reference books or online resources, to prepare for the exam.
  • Gain practical experience: It is essential to have practical experience in concrete flatwork finishing before attempting the certification exam. Spend time working on flatwork projects, honing your skills in tasks such as concrete placement, screeding, edging, and finishing techniques. Practical experience will help you understand the concepts and techniques covered in the exam.
  • Register for the exam: Visit the ACI website and locate the Concrete Flatwork Finisher/Technician certification page. Follow the instructions to register for the exam. There may be certain eligibility requirements or prerequisites, such as minimum age or completion of specific training programs. Make sure to fulfill all the requirements before registering.
  • Study and review: Dedicate sufficient time to study and review the exam materials. Use the study guide provided by ACI as a roadmap for your preparation. Familiarize yourself with the relevant ACI publications, industry standards, and best practices for concrete flatwork finishing. Take advantage of online resources, practice exams, or training courses to enhance your knowledge and understanding.
  • Take the certification exam: On the scheduled exam date, arrive at the designated testing center prepared and confident. The exam usually consists of a written portion and a hands-on performance demonstration. The written portion tests your theoretical knowledge, while the performance demonstration assesses your practical skills. Follow the instructions provided by ACI and demonstrate your proficiency in both areas.
  • Receive your certification: If you successfully pass both the written and performance portions of the exam, ACI will issue your Concrete Flatwork Finisher/Technician certification. You will receive a certificate indicating your achievement, and your name will be added to the ACI certification database.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Concrete Finisher?

No, you don’t typically need a degree to become a concrete finisher. Concrete finishing is a skilled trade that focuses on practical skills and hands-on experience rather than formal education. Having a high school diploma will probably benefit you a great deal, but a specific degree is not necessary.

However, it’s important to note that some of your potential employers or apprenticeship programs may have their own educational requirements or preferences. Additionally, pursuing a degree in a related field such as construction management or civil engineering could potentially open up opportunities for advancement or specialization within the industry.

Can I Become a Concrete Finisher Through Online Education?

While online education can provide you with theoretical knowledge and some aspects of the trade, it may not be sufficient on its own to become a concrete finisher.

To truly develop the necessary skills, it is essential to have practical experience. Concrete finishing involves working with concrete mixes, using various tools and equipment, and mastering techniques like floating, troweling, and texturing. These skills are best acquired through practical training, apprenticeships, or on-the-job experience.

What are some web resources to learn skills to become a Concrete Finisher?

Here are some web resources that can help you learn about concrete finishing techniques:

  • Sakrete: This website offers a wide range of articles, videos, and tutorials on various aspects of concrete work, including concrete finishing. They cover topics such as concrete surface preparation, different types of finishes, tools, and techniques.
  • Concrete Network: This YouTube channel is dedicated to teaching concrete finishing techniques. Here you’ll find step-by-step tutorials, tips, and demonstrations on achieving different finishes, such as smooth finishes, stamped concrete, or exposed aggregate.
  • Concrete Construction Magazine: This online magazine covers various topics related to concrete construction, including concrete finishing. They have articles and guides that provide insights into different finishing techniques, trends, and industry practices.

What’s the Career Outlook for Concrete Finisher?

The career outlook for concrete finishers in the USA is influenced by various factors, including construction activity, infrastructure development, and economic conditions. As a concrete finisher, you are integral to the construction industry, which experiences fluctuations based on regional and national economic trends.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of cement masons and concrete finishers, which includes concrete finishers, is projected to decline by 2 percent from 2021 to 2031

The demand for concrete finishers is driven by construction and infrastructure projects, such as building construction, road construction, and renovations. As the population continues to grow, there will be a need for new residential and commercial buildings, as well as the maintenance and repair of existing structures.

Concrete Finisher Popular Career Specialties

What Are the Job Opportunities of a Concrete Finisher?

As a concrete finisher, you will have job opportunities in various sectors within the construction industry.

Some common job opportunities for concrete finishers include:

  • General Contractors: General contractors oversee construction projects and may hire you as a concrete finisher as part of their construction teams. These companies handle a wide range of projects, including residential, commercial, and industrial construction.
  • Concrete Contractors: Concrete contractors specialize in concrete-related work and often employ a team of skilled concrete finishers which you may be able to join. They may take on projects such as sidewalks, driveways, foundations, or decorative concrete work. If you become a concrete contractor, you may work independently or subcontract with general contractors.
  • Road and Highway Construction: As a concrete finisher you may be involved in the construction of roads, highways, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure projects. In these roles, you will help in placing and finishing concrete for road surfaces, curbs, gutters, and other related structures.
  • Municipal Projects: Government entities and municipalities often require concrete finishers for public works projects. This can include projects like building sidewalks, curbs, public parks, and other infrastructure improvements within the community.
  • Commercial and Industrial Projects: Concrete finishers are needed for commercial and industrial construction projects such as warehouses, factories, shopping centers, and office buildings. In these projects, you will contribute to the construction of concrete floors, slabs, and other structural components.
  • Decorative Concrete Work: As a concrete finisher, you can specialize in decorative concrete applications, creating unique and aesthetically pleasing finishes. This includes techniques like stamped concrete, exposed aggregate, staining, and polishing. As a decorative concrete finisher, you may work on residential, commercial, or public projects that require customized concrete finishes.
  • Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship: Once you become a skilled concrete finisher, you may choose to start your own business as an independent contractor. This allows you to take on projects independently, build a client base, and potentially expand your operations.

What Type of Companies Hire a Concrete Finisher?

As a concrete finisher, you can apply for job opportunities in various types of companies and organizations involved in construction and concrete-related projects.

Here are some examples:

  • Civil Engineering and Construction Firms: Civil engineering and construction firms work on infrastructure projects such as highways, bridges, airports, and utility installations. They may have a need for concrete finishers such as yourself to work on large-scale concrete structures and surfaces.
  • Concrete Supply Companies: Companies involved in the production and supply of concrete materials often have divisions that provide concrete finishing services. They may employ you as a concrete finisher to handle finishing tasks on projects where their concrete is being used.
  • Residential Construction Companies: Builders and contractors specializing in residential construction, including single-family homes, townhouses, and condominiums, may hire you to work on foundations, driveways, sidewalks, and other concrete elements of residential properties.
  • Commercial Construction Companies: Companies focused on commercial construction, such as office buildings, retail centers, hotels, and warehouses, provide job opportunities for tasks like concrete flooring, parking lots, or exterior walkways.
  • Concrete Restoration and Repair Companies: Companies specializing in concrete restoration and repair work often hire skilled concrete finishers to restore and enhance existing concrete surfaces. These projects may involve you repairing cracks, applying coatings, or resurfacing damaged concrete.
  • Municipalities and Government Agencies: Local government bodies and agencies involved in public works, such as city municipalities, departments of transportation, or park authorities, may employ concrete finishers for infrastructure projects, sidewalks, curbs, and other public concrete installations.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Concrete Finisher?

Your work-life balance as a concrete finisher can vary depending on factors such as the specific job, project demands, and personal preferences.

Here are some factors to consider regarding the work-life balance that you might experience as a concrete finisher:

  • Seasonal Variations: Concrete work is often affected by weather conditions. Depending on where you live, concrete projects may be more prevalent during certain seasons, while other places may have a relatively consistent demand throughout the year. This can impact your workload and the availability of work during specific times, potentially influencing your work-life balance.
  • Project Schedules: Concrete finishing work is typically carried out on construction sites where project timelines can be tight. There may be occasions when you are expected to work long hours or overtime in order to meet project deadlines. However, this can vary depending on the specific project and your employer.
  • Flexibility: In some cases, you may be able to enjoy more flexibility in your work schedule, especially if you work as a self-employed contractor or have established relationships with employers who value work-life balance. However, if you work for construction companies, you may have more fixed schedules aligned with standard construction industry working hours.
  • Physical Demands: Concrete finishing can be physically demanding, requiring strength, stamina, and endurance. Depending on the nature of the projects you are working on and the tasks involved, you may find the work more physically tiring, which can influence your overall work-life balance.

Should I become a Concrete Finisher?

Deciding whether or not to pursue a career as a concrete finisher is a personal decision that depends on your interests, skills, and career goals. Here are a few points to consider when making your decision:

First, your interest in the work. Are you genuinely interested in concrete work and enjoy working with your hands? Concrete finishing involves physical labor and attention to detail. If you have a passion for working with concrete, creating smooth finishes, and taking pride in the final product, then pursuing a career as a concrete finisher may be a good fit.

Secondly, do you have the required skills and aptitude? Concrete finishing requires specific skills, including the ability to work with various tools and equipment, understand concrete properties, and apply different finishing techniques. Assess your aptitude for these skills and consider if you have a natural inclination or willingness to learn them.

Finally, it is very important that you consider the physical demands of the position. Concrete finishing can involve lifting, bending, and standing for long periods. Consider your physical fitness level and any potential limitations you may have. If you enjoy physical work and are comfortable with the physical demands of the job, it can be a good fit.

Careers Related to Concrete Finisher

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a Concrete Finisher earn?

According to Glassdoor, the median salary of a concrete finisher is just over US$ 48,000. However, you can expect to earn as little as US$ 40,000 per year in an entry-level position.


What is another name for a Concrete Finisher?

Another name for a concrete finisher is a concrete mason. Concrete masons are skilled professionals who specialize in working with concrete, including tasks such as pouring, leveling, and finishing concrete surfaces.


What is the job description of a Concrete Finisher?

A concrete finisher is responsible for applying finishing touches to concrete surfaces, ensuring they meet specifications and desired appearance. This includes tasks such as smoothing, leveling, edging, and applying various finishing techniques to achieve the desired texture and quality of the concrete.


Lace Brunsden

About the Author

Read more articles by Lace Brunsden