Drywall workers are usually the last specialty trades to work on a construction project building, but that doesn’t make their work any less important. In fact, their work is often subject to the most judgment since it’s the most visible. Here’s what you need to know about drywall contractor work.
What is the role of drywall contractors?
After all the necessary mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) work has been done, the project is ready for drywall installation. A drywall contractor must go through the process of constructing framing, installing insulation, and placing the drywall.
Drywall installers are not only responsible for installing drywall sheets, but also various types of ceiling systems. Their job entails tasks such as:
- Cleaning and preparing surfaces for installation
- Mixing plaster ingredients
- Measuring, cutting, positioning, and placing the drywall sheets on walls and ceilings
- Covering screw heads and wooden joists with a special tape or joint compound to secure the sheets
- Sanding down seams
- Smoothing out the excess and waiting for coats to dry
- Spraying finish over walls and ceilings
- Ensuring that everything looks good and is ready for paint or wallpaper
The process is fairly strenuous, as it involves a lot of repetitive movements, so it’s imperative that drywall workers are physically fit.
Thinking about becoming a drywall worker? This is what you’ll need to get started in drywall work.
Licensing can vary on a state-by-state basis, but drywall contractors are usually required to be licensed to be able to legally work. Some states require a certain amount of time from studying under someone or that you pass a standardized test.
In California, for example, a C-9 license lets you specialize in drywall services, requiring 4 years of journeyperson experience and that you pass a two-part exam administered by the Contractor State Licensing Board.
Apprenticeships are a great way to get your foot in the door, providing in-depth learning through the classroom and on-the-job training as you’re supervised by a certified drywall installer/journeyperson. Apprenticeships are usually paid, and typically last from 3 to 4 years, providing you with plenty of hands-on experience.
While most states don’t require that you have a college degree to become a drywall contractor, you’ll usually need a high school diploma to enter an apprenticeship program.
Successful drywall contractors have a few characteristics in common. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Physical strength – You’ll need to be strong enough to lift drywall sheets into place repeatedly, perform laborious tasks, and move heavy loads.
- Fine motor skills – Precision cuts reduce waste, so you’ll have to be meticulous with your movements.
- Stamina – You’ll be working for long periods of time and often over hours, so the job requires a great deal of stamina.
- An eye for detail – Not only is it good to have creativity for this job, but you’ll also need to identify when something needs to be reworked.
- Proficiency with precision and construction tools – You should have knowledge of and enjoy working with tools.
- Basic math skills – Calculating materials needed is an important part of the job.
Drywall work can be dangerous. Sheets are heavy, requiring multiple workers to help with lifting and installation. Additionally, falls (especially when working on tall buildings) are not uncommon, so proper personal protective equipment is a necessity. Another hazard is dust from sanding and gypsum boards, so eye and respiratory protection should be used at all times.
How much do drywall contractors make?
According to Glassdoor, in the United States, a drywall contractor’s yearly salary ranges from around $24,000 to $64,000. The average worker makes a base pay of approximately $42,000, plus $21,000 of additional pay (i.e., overtime, benefits, etc.). This is based on 670+ user submitted salaries.
For more precise information, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics lists workers in the 10% percentile making $30,460 (or $14.64 per hour), and workers in the 90% percentile making $95,600 (or $45.96 per hour).
Some of the top paying metropolitan areas for drywall installers are:
- Santa Clara County, California: $86,380
- Hayward, California: $82,560
- Kahului, Hawaii: $81,460
For nonmetropolitan areas, some of the top paying locations are:
- Kauai, Hawaii: $77,150
- North Coast Region of California: $69,080
- Western Washington nonmetropolitan area: $56,210
It should be noted, however, that pay often scales to an area’s cost of living.
Coordinating other contractors with drywall workers is crucial to a project’s timely completion. Since they often work on the project last, it’s important to ensure that all the preceding work has been sufficiently completed. Losing labor hours due to delays can be costly, so you’ll need a way to properly manage your workers. Modern workforce solutions like Bridgit Bench have made this much easier.
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