Glaziers install glass in windows, skylights, storefronts, and display cases to create distinctive designs or reduce the need for artificial lighting. As in many other construction trades, the work is physically demanding. Glaziers risk cuts from tools and glass, and falls from ladders and scaffolding. Most work full time. About 5% were self-employed in 2010.
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Glaziers typically do the following:
Glass has many uses in modern life. For example, insulated and specially treated glass keeps in warm or cool air and controls sound and condensation. Tempered and laminated glass makes doors and windows more secure. The creative use of large windows, glass doors, skylights, and sunroom additions makes buildings bright, airy, and inviting. Glaziers specialize in installing these different glass products.
In homes, glaziers install or replace windows, mirrors, shower doors, and bathtub enclosures. They fit glass for tabletops and display cases. On commercial interior projects, glaziers install items such as heavy, often etched, decorative room dividers or security windows.
Glazing projects also may involve replacing storefront windows for supermarkets, auto dealerships, banks, and so on. Workers who replace and repair glass in motor vehicles are not covered in this profile. For most large-scale construction jobs, glass is precut and mounted into frames at a factory or a contractor's shop. The finished glass arrives at the jobsite ready for glaziers to position and secure into place. Using cranes or hoists with suction cups, workers lift large, heavy pieces of glass for installation. In cases where the glass is not secure inside the frame, glaziers may attach steel and aluminum sashes or frames to the building, and then secure the glass with clips, moldings, or other types of fasteners.
A few glaziers work with plastics, granite, marble, and other materials used as glass substitutes. Some work with films or laminates that improve the durability or safety of the glass.
Although there are no formal educational requirements to become a glazier, high school math courses are considered useful. On the job, trainees often start with basic tasks such as carrying glass and cleaning up debris in glass shops. By working with experienced glaziers, trainees eventually acquire the skills of a fully qualified glazier. After several months, trainees start making their first cuts on discarded glass. Later, they may begin cutting glass and helping experienced workers on simple installation jobs.
Some glaziers learn their trade through a three-year apprenticeship. On the job, they learn to use the tools and equipment of the trade; handle, measure, cut, and install glass and metal framing; cut and fit moldings; and install and balance glass doors. Technical training includes instruction in glass and installation techniques as well as basic mathematics, blueprint reading and sketching, general construction techniques, safety practices, and first aid.
After completing an apprenticeship program, glaziers are considered to be journey workers who may do tasks on their own.
Glaziers held about 41,900 jobs in 2010, of which 62% were employed in the foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors industry. Another 15% were employed in the building material and supplies dealers industry. About 5% of glaziers were self-employed.
As in many other construction trades, the work is physically demanding. Glaziers spend most of the day standing, bending, or stretching, and workers often have to lift and maneuver heavy, cumbersome materials, such as large glass plates.
Glaziers experience one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses. Typical injuries include cuts from tools and glass, and falls from ladders and scaffolding. Most glaziers work full time.
The median annual wage of glaziers was $36,640 in May 2010. (The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. ) The lowest 10% earned less than $22,760, and the top 10% earned more than $66,810.
The starting pay for apprentices usually is between 30% and 50% of what fully trained glaziers make, receiving pay increases as they gain more skill.