Trades Career Profile: Concrete Form Worker
Concrete is one of the most popular building materials, and it’s used to construct everything from residential houses and sidewalks to high-rise buildings and bridges. Construction firms that work with concrete employ skilled tradespeople called concrete form workers, or concrete masons.
Concrete form workers are tradespeople who build the wooden forms and pour concrete in order to build a structure. They read blueprints and determine the specifications and measurements required, then cut and construct the wooden forms using tools such as hand saws, power saws, hammer and nails, and powered nail guns. They understand the proper way to pour concrete, and how to monitor concrete while it sets to ensure that it does so properly and with the correct finish and texture.
They are also responsible for installing stabilizing materials, such as wire mesh or steel rebar, when building the forms for more complicated structures. Other tasks include using trowels and tools to move liquid concrete through a form or to smooth concrete surfaces, adding colour or texture, or applying sealants and other coatings.
Working as a concrete mason is a demanding physical labour job involving heavy lifting, carrying heavy loads, using various tools, and bending/climbing. This requires workers who have good physical strength and endurance. Much of the work occurs outside, and requires the ability to work in the sun or fairly hot or cold temperatures. Working with concrete is highly dependent on temperature and weather conditions, so depending on the area of Canada you work, these jobs can be available all year round, or only seasonally during the non-winter months.
Concrete form workers require a high school diploma, and enter the trade directly through a three or four-year apprenticeship program where they learn on the job and complete their training. While not always required, it is often recommended to pursue some additional college or trades school courses in carpentry or similar skills. For those who wish further certification, there is a Red Seal certification program available in all provinces.
Wages for concrete form workers begin around minimum wage, $15-16 for beginners and entry-level jobs. Progressing through apprenticeship requirements and earning professional certifications and experience can lead to wages in the area of $35-40 per hour. As most cities and towns are regularly building new infrastructure, industrial buildings, and residential buildings, there is usually steady, regular work available in this career.
As with many skilled trades, there are multiple career paths you can follow depending on how you want to work. If you prefer working within an established company, there are many construction companies that hire form workers and complete projects at the municipal, provincial, and national level, both for public projects and private projects. Alternatively, if you prefer to work for yourself, you can establish yourself as an independent contractor who works on contract for larger companies, or who owns their own business to complete smaller jobs at the local level, such as home improvement and landscaping projects.