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How to Become a Tile Installer: A CTEF Career Path


A question that frequently comes up is how to become a tile installer.

It can come from someone looking to change fields or someone who wants to become a Certified Tile Installer and isn't sure what the steps are.

Unfortunately, there isn't yet an easy, set, defined career path for becoming a tile installer other than through a tile apprenticeship program or a vocational school, and that's why CTEF has expanded its tile installation training and education for 2023.

Three CTEF Career Path Resources for Tile Installers

Of the three resources, two are new and the third has been upgraded and updated.

These newly expanded training and education programs for professionals in the ceramic tile and stone industry address two aspects critical to becoming: developing a knowledge base and then applying that knowledge, paving the way for tile installation certification.

The purpose is to expand the skill and knowledge journey of the tile installer as he or she progresses along a career path. They are meant to support the field experience which is vital to becoming an experienced and accomplished installation professional.

#1: Tile Installation Foundations Series

The first step is to fully absorb the 100-level Tile Foundations course. This course lasts one week, with back-to-back classes that can be taken individually as well as together.

The 100 Level Foundations Series is a one-week program for Apprentices and Finishers and covers in depth the components of year one for a ceramic tile tradesperson. Consider this program the Foundation for becoming a tile installer.

These three components include:

Introduction to Ceramic Tile

Intro to Ceramic Tile takes place on day one and lasts 8 hours. During that time, you'll focus on understanding the history and overview of the tile trade along with how to set up a job site.

Ceramic Tile Finishing

Ceramic Tile Finishing takes 16 hours over two days to explore with hands-on practice in Grouting, Cleaning, and Membranes.

Advanced Finishing

Advanced Finishing also focuses 16 hours over two days to prepare an apprentice for Troweling, Measuring, Cutting, and Repairing so they return home with an understanding and practice of these essential skills.

Note that by completing the 100 Level Foundations Series, the student may take the ACT Membranes and ACT Grouts hands-on test modules, which can be taken without the prerequisite Certified Tile Installer (CTI) test required for the other seven ACT test modules.

#2: Practical Tile Installation Applications Series

Once you've mastered the Foundations level, and spent time putting into practice what you learned, consider the 200-Level Practical Series.

It's the next step in the tile installation professional’s career, preparing them for the Certified Tile Installer test while focusing on the skills needed to be successful in the field as a full-time installer during years 1-3.

Installation Big Picture 

During the first day (8 hours), you'll experience Installation Big Picture. It looks at what it takes to be Accurate from Prep to Finish by examining what the industry standards and methods are, why they exist, and how to meet them.

Attention to Detail

The next two days (16 hours) focus on Attention to Detail. That's when you'll spend time on Layout and How to be Precise with a broad view of construction math and geometry and a close look at how to use that for accuracy in every aspect of the tile assembly.

Where Did the Time Go?

Time management is critical for a professional tile installer. The last two days (16 hours) look at Where Did the Time Go? during this essential study of productivity and Techniques to Make You More Efficient, important qualities for the installer looking to be well organized by using time wisely.

Note that by completing the 200 Level Practical Series, spending time in the field practicing these disciplines, and studying the CTEF CTI Manual, the student will be prepared for the CTEF Ceramic Tile Installer knowledge and hands-on tests.

#3: Another Useful Class on the Path to Becoming a Tile Installer: UICT/MSBW

Are you familiar with Understanding and Installing Ceramic Tile (UICT) and Comprehensive Shower/Mortar Shower Base and Waterproofing classes?

>> See Understanding and Installing Ceramic Tile for the Entry-Level Tile Installer

>> See Comprehensive Shower Class

These two popular programs take a total of 8 days to examine the history, standards, methods, and basic techniques required for a trouble-free tile installation. Spending time in both the classroom and the “mod room”, which includes individually framed bathrooms with tubs, students of all knowledge levels look closely at tile installation from inception to finality.

During the 5-day Understanding & Installing Ceramic Tile (UICT), you will receive basic instruction in the TNCA Handbook and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifications and hands-on experience for the individual seeking an entry-level installer position with a tile contractor.

The Comprehensive Shower Class is a three-day course that focuses on properly installing the shower pan, including common mistakes and causes of failure.

You'll receive instruction in the classroom and the warehouse so you experience a deep dive into the reliable, yet often incorrectly installed TCNA B415 shower receptor method. Mixing mud, making screeds, assembling the necessary parts of the shower receptor, and finishing out the curb allow students to understand how a proper “water in water out system” should be constructed.

Three CTEF Career Path Resources for Becoming a Tile Installer

Are You Ready to Become a Tile Installer and Learn Best Practices?

Now's your opportunity to get started on your career path with these programs from CTEF that will instruct tile installers in best practices for tile installation before any bad habits have a chance to set in.

Click Here to Register

We look forward to hearing from you as you embark on your journey to becoming a Certified Tile Installer.

Thanks for reading!