For centuries, we have been blessed with the beauty and functionality of ceramic tile. In Europe and the Middle East, we can enjoy the enduring value of centuries-old, beautifully intricate mosaics on floors, walls, and ceilings. These fine examples of craftsmanship were installed by talented tile installers who learned their trade from a skilled and seasoned master mechanic.
In North America, we have likewise
enjoyed the beauty and long lasting qualities of ceramic tile installed by
competent tile installers. The difference we encounter today is that the
tradition of handing down “the trade” to the next generation is all but lost.
Herein lies the problem.
How do present training practices impact our
Since generational training is no longer functioning in
adequate quantities, we must take action to fill the void left by this
previously long-standing “apprentice training” tradition. This is further
exacerbated by the fact that the U.S. Department of Labor predicts we will need
23% more qualified tile installers by 2014 to address the demand for ceramic
In addition, the Ceramic Tile
Education Foundation (CTEF) routinely receives calls about installation failures.
The daily number of calls continues to climb, indicating the need to bolster
both the perceived quality and competency of U.S. installers.
Our industry has changed from a
skill-based to knowledge-based labor force. This is not to say that skill is
not required, but today we have a wealth of installation materials, each with
specific nuances. The installer must be very well versed and up-to-date in all
the technical aspects of each component of the system.
A strong U.S. tile installer pool
plays an intricate part in the continued growth of the ceramic tile market. We
need to utilize the few training and education facilities in the U.S. to offer
basic educational and hands-on training to potential tile installers.
Installers with a good foundation of product and installation knowledge can
grow into true tile mechanics.
While we continue to train and educate new recruits in the
tile industry, the time has come to move to the next level. To accomplish this,
it is imperative that the perception of the tile installer be raised to that of
a tile professional. Certification offers our industry a method to acknowledge
the abilities of tile installers.
Certification provides an industry
standard and a commitment to a level of knowledge and learning. Like a
professional license, certification offers structured, reliable evidence of
skills. Certification exams are built on rigorous and standardized criteria.
What is available?
There are several certification programs available. To
distinguish the caliber of a program, review the prequalification requirements,
curriculum, and testing process to understand the level of expertise being
For instance, CTEF is launching the
Certified Tile Installer Program the first quarter of 2008. With a newly
developed curriculum and textbook, students will be required to pass a written
and hands-on practical test to demonstrate their knowledge and skill.
The three-tiered program includes:
Level I-Thinset Floors and Walls; Level II-Mortar Shower Base, Waterproofing
and Crack Isolation; and Level III-Mud Floors, Complicated Layout and Design.
The prospective tile installer must meet the prequalification process of a
one-year minimum of field experience and verifiable trade references. The CTEF
certification program will be available in 2008 at six locations to assist
students in cutting-down travel and hotel costs and reduce the time away from
Why support certification?
Certification is good for our industry and its future
growth. Certified tile installers will enjoy the notoriety and have the
credentials to work in all areas of the country. The marketing potential is
huge for the installer and will provide them or the firm for which they work
with the ability to advertise the quality of their work. Certification provides
architects and designers with a pool of pre-qualified tile installers that will
raise both the quality and expectation of a beautiful ceramic tile