Education and Training: Apprenticeship
Salary: Median—$15.63 per hour
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Glaziers install glass. They work with sheet glass, plate glass, mirrors, and special products, such as leaded glass panels. They install sheet glass windows in private homes; plate glass in store windows, office buildings, and factories; and structural glass in building fronts, ceilings, and walls. Other glaziers work in factories installing glass in mirror frames, doors, and partitions. Glaziers also install shower and tub enclosures and automatic glass doors.
To install glass in a window, the glazier must first measure the window frame and either cut a sheet of glass to the proper size or use a piece of precut glass. The glazier then applies putty to the edges of the frame and places the glass in the frame, where it is secured with triangular points or metal clips. Finally, the glazier flattens the putty with a putty knife to seal out moisture. Structural glass is handled differently. The glazier installs it by pressing it against cement that has been applied to the backing that supports the glass. A glazier's tools include suction cups for holding glass plates, glass cutters, putty knives, power cutters, and grinders.
Education and Training Requirements
The best way to become a glazier is to complete a three-year apprenticeship program. You must have a high school diploma and be at least seventeen years old to enter the program. The apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training with at least 144 hours of classroom instruction each year.
On the job, apprentices learn to use materials and tools. In the classroom, apprentices are taught to read blueprints and job specifications, to design glass installations, and to understand the mathematics related to the trade. Because working with large pieces of glass can be dangerous, an important part of the classroom instruction focuses on safety measures and first aid. Some glaziers learn their trade by working as helpers for experienced glaziers. In small towns, painters and paper hangers sometimes learn to do glaziers' work as part of their training.
Getting the Job
The best way to enter the trade is to apply to a local contractor or union for entry into an apprenticeship program. Another way to enter the field is to ask local glaziers about job opportunities as a helper. You can also try the Yellow Pages and the classified advertisement sections of newspapers.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Most glaziers are employed in the construction industry. Experienced glaziers can become supervisors or estimators. Many glaziers own their own businesses.
Glass is a favorite material of contemporary builders and architects. It is used in large buildings and skyscrapers as wall paneling. Glaziers will be needed to install this material.
About fifty thousand glaziers are employed in the construction industry in the United States. Employment opportunities are expected to grow as fast as the average for all jobs, which means that the outlook is fairly good through the year 2012. The demand for glaziers will depend on how well glass holds up, as well as the need to modernize and repair existing structures. The number of employment opportunities in the construction industry also varies with fluctuations in the economy.
Because most glaziers work indoors, they seldom lose work time because of bad weather. Glaziers can be hurt by sharp glass edges and cutting tools. They risk injury from falls, because they work on scaffolds and ladders. In an effort to reduce injuries, contractors and unions stress safety methods. Glaziers generally work a standard forty-hour week. They are paid higher wages for overtime work. Many glaziers are union members.
Earnings and Benefits
The median income of glaziers in 2004 was $15.63 per hour. Union members make more—sometimes considerably more—than nonunion workers. Apprentice glaziers earn forty to fifty percent of a qualified craft worker's salary at the beginning of their training. As the training continues, apprentices receive periodic wage increases. Wages vary from one part of the country to another.
Where to Go for More Information
International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
1750 New York Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20006
National Glass Association
8200 Greensboro Dr., Ste. 302
McLean, VA 22102-3881
Union workers usually receive paid holidays, life insurance, and hospitalization and pension plans. The number of vacation days they receive depends on the number of days they work each year. Other benefits are negotiated separately for each union contract.