Plasterers, Drywall Installers and Finishers, and Lathers

(NOC 7284)

in All Trades and Transportation

Plasterers apply finish, and maintain and restore plaster or similar materials, on interior and exterior walls, ceilings and building partitions to produce plain or decorative surfaces. Drywall installers and finishers install and finish drywall sheets and various types of ceiling systems. Lathers install support framework for ceiling systems, interior and exterior walls and building partitions. They work for construction companies and by plastering, drywalling, and lathing contractors, or they may be self-employed.

Job Outlook

Good

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  • Estimate Strong growth employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 120 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate Moderate rate of unemployment in 2022

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

  • Estimate 4040 employment change, 2021-2023
  • Estimate 8425 openings due to growth and retirements, 2021-2023
  • Estimate rate of unemployment not available for these occupation.

Outlook: good, a better than average chance of qualified individuals finding work.
Size of the occupation in Nova Scotia: moderate, with some job opportunities.
Demand: Approximately 65 opportunities are estimated for Halifax, and 65 outside Halifax. Employment growth will lead to several new positions. There is a low level of employee turnover in this occupation. There are a moderate number of unemployed workers with recent experience in this occupation. A moderate number of positions will become available due to retirements.

Hourly Pay

$18.00

Minimum

$27.00

Median

$35.30

Maximum

Annual Pay

$5,768

Minimum

$23,620

Median

$58,697

Maximum

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

Hourly Pay

$15.00

Minimum

$24.00

Median

$37.00

Maximum

Annual Pay

$7,580

Minimum

$37,269

Median

$79,787

Maximum

About the job

Nature of work

Plasterers apply finish, and maintain and restore plaster or similar materials, on interior and exterior walls, ceilings and building partitions to produce plain or decorative surfaces. Drywall installers and finishers install and finish drywall sheets and various types of ceiling systems. Lathers install support framework for ceiling systems, interior and exterior walls and building partitions. They work for construction companies and by plastering, drywalling, and lathing contractors, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

Plasterers:

  • Clean and prepare surfaces.
  • Mix plaster ingredients in trough to desired consistency.
  • Apply, level and smooth coats of plaster using trowels, floats, brushes, and spraying equipment.
  • Trowel or spray coats of stucco over exteriors of buildings to form weatherproof surfaces.
  • Finish corners and angles and create decorative designs in finish coat, if required.
  • Cure freshly plastered surfaces.
  • Mould and install ornamental plaster panels, cornices, and trim.
  • Spray acoustic materials or texture finish over walls and ceilings.

Drywall installers and finishers:

  • Measure, cut and fit drywall sheets for installation on walls and ceilings.
  • Position and secure sheets to metal or wooden studs or joists.
  • Cut and install metal corner beads to protect exterior corners.
  • Fill joints, nail indentations, holes and cracks with joint compound using trowel and broad knife.
  • Tape over joints using taping machine and embed tape in compound.
  • Smooth out excess compound and allow coat to dry.
  • Apply successive coats of compound and sand seams and joints.
  • Build and install suspended metal ceiling grids and place in panels to form acoustical and coffered ceilings.

Lathers:

  • Prepare wall and ceiling layouts.
  • Install metal stud framing and furring for interior drywall or plaster walls and ceilings, using hand and power tools.
  • Attach metal or gypsum lath to studs or furring using nails, screws, clips, or wire ties.
  • Cut openings in lath for heating and ventilation piping, ducts, and electrical outlets.
  • Install corner beads and wire mesh around beams to which plaster is to be applied.
  • May install acoustic tile, hangers for suspended ceilings and metal studs for composition wallboard or lath.

Sample job titles

  • acoustic tile and drywall installer
  • drywall finisher and plasterer
  • drywall hanger
  • gyproc applicator
  • lather (interior systems mechanic)
  • plasterer-decorator
  • sheetrock applicator
  • wall and ceiling installer

Skills

  • Physical endurance, flexibility, and strength
  • Good hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity
  • Attention to detail
  • Accuracy
  • Good vision and spatial perception
  • Ability to work at heights
  • Ability to read and interpret information from drawings, blueprints, and specifications
  • Ability to estimate and calculate size and dimensions
  • Problem-solving and creative thinking skills
  • Artistic aptitude is helpful in restorative work
  • Ability to work alone or in a team

Job requirements

  • High school or equivalent (usually).
  • A combination of over three years of work experience and some high school, college, or industry courses in plastering, drywalling, or lathing.
  • Trade Qualifier option for Drywall Finisher and Plasterer, 8,100 hours, and other criteria.
  • Trade Qualifier option for Lather (interior systems mechanic), 8,100 hours, and other criteria.
  • Certification for drywall finishers and plasterers is voluntary in Nova Scotia.
  • Certification for lathers (interior systems mechanics) is voluntary in Nova Scotia.
  • Write and score a minimum of 70% on the Red Seal exam for drywall finisher and plasterer or lathers.
  • Red Seal Endorsement (RSE) allows for interprovincial mobility.

Other considerations

  • Drywall finishers and plasterers work indoors on new construction sites or may work on older buildings doing repairs or renovations. They often work at heights, in noisy and dusty conditions, and alongside other trades.
  • Lathers work both indoors and outdoors year-round. They generally work 40 hours per week, but overtime may be required to meet deadlines.
  • The work requires a lot of standing, bending, and lifting heavy building materials. Lathers may need to work on aerial platforms, scaffolding, and ladders.
  • Risks include injuries from working with hand or power tools or injuries due to bending and lifting.
  • Jobs in the construction industry are affected by seasonal changes and economic conditions. Work may be on a project basis. Workers should be prepared for periods of unemployment. However, plaster and drywall installers are less affected by weather conditions and have steadier work throughout the year than other construction workers.
  • Experienced drywall finishers and plasterers may advance to supervisory positions or other related areas like construction management, instruction, and inspection.
  • Lathers may specialize in individual aspects of the trade like layout, wall framing, and drywall installation.
  • Experienced lathers may act as mentors and trainers to apprentices in the trade. They may also advance to positions like estimators, supervisors, training coordinators, and project managers.
  • Everyone has fair access to participate and succeed in the apprenticeship system. Everyone who develops the necessary skills and abilities should be able to succeed in the trades and trade qualification system. Work environments in the province support women and equity-seeking communities.

By the numbers

Quick look

555

employed in 2016

74.5%

employed full-time

25.5%

self employed

3.6%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
96.4%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
46.8

median age

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

57,925

employed in 2016

85.9%

employed full-time

11.8%

self employed

5.3%
Icons/female Created with Sketch.
94.7%
Icons/male Created with Sketch.
46.8

median age

Where will I likely work?

47.3%

Halifax

$22,664 median annual income
16.1%

Annapolis Valley

$28,690 median annual income
15.2%

North Shore

$23,586 median annual income
12.5%

Cape Breton

$21,740 median annual income
8.9%

Southern

$30,816 median annual income

Compared to: All NS Occupations

47.0%

Halifax

15.6%

North Shore

12.9%

Annapolis Valley

12.7%

Cape Breton

11.8%

Southern

Top Industries of Employment

92.8%

Construction

2.4%

Real estate and rental and leasing

2.4%

Professional, scientific and technical services

2.4%

Public administration

What is the age of Employment?

26.0%

45-54

23.0%

35-44

23.0%

55-64

17.0%

25-34

7.0%

15-24

4.0%

65+

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

24.4%

45-54

22.1%

55-64

17.7%

35-44

17.7%

25-34

10.9%

15-24

Top levels of education

35.5%

Less than high school

$24,853 median annual income
27.3%

High school

$30,726 median annual income
23.6%

Trade Certification

$16,527 median annual income
11.8%

College Diploma

$26,103 median annual income
1.8%

Diploma Below Bachelor

N/A

Compared to: All Trades and Transportation

29.2%

Trade Certification

$46,494 median annual income
25.5%

High school

$31,260 median annual income
22.3%

College Diploma

$42,050 median annual income
18.7%

Less than high school

$28,319 median annual income
2.8%

Bachelor

$30,527 median annual income

Education & training

Drywall Installation

College or Trades Program

These programs prepare students to apply technical knowledge and skills to install, tape, and plaster drywall installations in interior and exterior construction jobs. They include courses in drywall handling and transport, cutting and mounting, taping and spackling, finishing, job analysis and estimation, site safety, tool operation and maintenance, blueprint and specification interpretation, and applicable codes and standards.

Institutions providing this program

Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency

Halifax, NS

Carpenter Millwright College (CMC) Inc.

Lower Sackville, NS

High School Diploma or Equivalent

High School Program

Adults without a high school diploma can contact the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning (NSSAL) for tuition-free programming across the province. NSSAL oversees adult education programs in Nova Scotia. NSSAL partners with the Nova Scotia Community College, Adult High Schools, Université Sainte-Anne, and community-based learning organizations to deliver programs. NSSAL offers clear, accessible pathways from adult basic education to a high school credential or GED.

Institutions providing this program

Universite Sainte-Anne

Pointe-de-l'Église, NS

Nova Scotia Community College

Various, NS

Adult High Schools

Various, NS

Community Learning Organizations

Various, NS

Employment requirements & contacts

Regulations

Drywall Finisher and Plasterer

Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary): This is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, but a certificate is not needed to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
Halifax, NS
Lather (Interior Systems Mechanic)

Certificate of Qualification (Voluntary): This is a designated trade in Nova Scotia. Employers may require certification, but a certificate is not needed to legally work in this trade.

Regulating body:
Nova Scotia Apprenticeship Agency
Halifax, NS

Contacts

Construction Association of Nova Scotia
Dartmouth, NS
BuildForce Canada
Ottawa, ON
Nova Scotia Construction Sector Council
Halifax, NS
Atlantic Home Building and Renovation Sector Council
Halifax, NS
Mainland Nova Scotia Building Trades
Lakeside, NS
Merit Nova Scotia
Halifax, NS
Cape Breton Island Building and Construction Trade Council
Sydney, NS

Additional resources