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How to Become a Licensed Tiler

Selfgood team, Marketing at Selfgood
Male licensed tiler tiling wall

Professional tilers are highly in demand. Of course, you need more than tiling skills to get jobs: homeowners need faith in your ability to do the job and do it right.

Being a licensed tiler is the best way to earn their trust before the job begins.

This article explains the steps you need to take to become a licensed tiler and add credibility to your business.

Why You Need a Tiling License

Here are a few reasons why you should get certified to install tiles:

It Shows You’re a Professional

Many general contractors (and unlicensed ones) offer tiling services. However, tiling is a delicate craft. No contractor can do it well.

A tiling license proves that you are a knowledgeable and experienced professional. In addition, it shows potential clients that a governing board has authorized you to operate a tiling business.

It’s Legally Required

Some states require tilers to hold a license for large jobs. Some states require an appointment for any job.

California is one such state. Check out the details here.

Working as a floor tiler without certification from an approved licensing board could lead to fines, jail time, and other penalties.

It Can Save You Money on Insurance

Acquiring your tiling license could lower your liability insurance premiums. After all, it proves that you are experienced in the field and less likely to cause property damage.

It Helps You Get Jobs

You’ll have a much easier time securing employment as a licensed tiler. The education, experience, and skills needed to become certified are proof enough for any employer to hire you.

Your education will help you clearly explain your methods and procedures to clients. They will appreciate this extra information and trust your ability to carry on your promises much more.

Are you thinking about starting a freelance tiling business? Selfgood offers health and wellness benefits to keep you healthy and productive.

The Levels of Being a Tiler

Tiled steps
As you learn how to handle tile, you will work your way up the various levels of the tiling business. Your scope of work will broaden as you reach each level. Let’s break down the three primary levels of professional tiling:

Tradesperson Helper

Working as a tradesperson helper is the beginning of the tiler’s journey. This is when you first get hired and receive on-the-job training. You’ll spend most of your time watching lay tiles in this phase. After that, you might learn to mix grout, remove tiles, and load and unload materials.

Your main job is to ensure plenty of material for the tile setters. Helpers are involved in the cleanup, too. Once you have been around the tiling scene, you can ask to become someone’s apprentice.


An apprenticeship includes on-the-job training and classroom education. A professional tiler leads you through a structured training program on the job site.

In the classroom, you’ll learn about the techniques and materials involved in tiling. For instance, your instructor will teach you the differences between stone, glass, and ceramic tiles. You’ll also learn why laying wall tiles and floor tiles are such different processes.

As you continue to work and learn, you will gain the skills to become a journeyman tiler. There are two types of tiling apprentice programs:

  1. Tile layer apprenticeships
  2. Tile finisher apprenticeships

The Tile Layer Apprenticeships

Completing this program requires an apprentice of three years and approximately 5,000 hours of hands-on training. They must also earn 90 RSI credits.

Tile Finisher Apprenticeships

This program takes two years to complete and requires 2,100 hours of hands-on training and 29 RSI credits.

Journeyman/Lead Installer

A journeyman, or lead installer, can oversee a tiling project or complete an entire project independently as a subcontractor. At this point, you are considered an expert in tiling. You can handle more complicated jobs, such as waterproofing wall tiles for wet areas.

An apprentice must pass a test to become a journeyman. If you continue your education after achieving journeyman status, you can work toward “master tiler” status.

Pay Increases With Experience

As expected, you will earn more money as you move up the ranks in the tiling business. According to Payscale, a tiler just starting (most likely a helper) will earn an average hourly wage of a little over $15 per hour.

When they gain five years of experience, that hourly wage increases to an average of $18 per hour. According to this data, tilers earn their highest wage with ten years of experience at almost $24 per hour. A tiler’s income greatly depends on their location and the company they work for.

Of course, tilers with certifications and licenses can earn wages much higher than these numbers. Those in a union can also expect higher earnings.

Planning to work as a subcontractor? Learn how to price your services and explain the cost to clients in this guide: How to Answer the Question “How Much Do You Charge?”

How to Become a Licensed Tiler

If the benefits of becoming a licensed tiler have swayed you into pursuing this course, you’ll need to understand the requirements. Below, we’ll discuss the different organizations that grant tiling licenses. You’ll need proof of your hours logged and training received to get a permit from any of them.

Your mentor will teach you to keep track of your hours during your apprenticeship. You might also need proof of completed work to receive your license.

Where to Get Your Tiling License

Several organizations award certifications and licenses in the tiling industry. Of course, some are more distinguished than others but are considered reputable programs.

1. Advanced Certified Tile Installer (ACT)

This program allows tile installers to get certified in seven different areas of tiling.

Here are the seven areas:

  • Membranes
  • Shower receptors
  • Mortar floors
  • Mortar walls
  • Large format tile and substrate preparation
  • Gauged porcelain tile
  • Grouts

These certifications are among the most widely recognized credentials in the tiling industry.

2. Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTI)

This certification is awarded by the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation (CTEF), a widely recognized leader in tiling work. You must work as a lead tiler for two years before you can test for this certification. Apprentices and helpers do not qualify.

3. The International Masonry Institute (IMI) Contractor College Program

This institute provides training and certifications for BAC craftworkers in various areas. This institute is affiliated with the IMTEF to ensure the highest quality of educational programs.

4. The National Tile Contractors Association (NTCA) Tile Layer Apprenticeship Program

This program helps employers create apprenticeship programs by providing guidelines and assistance training new tile-setters and finishers.

5. The Marble Institute of America (MIA) Accreditation for Natural Stone Tile Installation Contractors

Marble is one of the most beautiful, revered, and heavy tiles to la. The Marble Institute of America focuses on the training and education of contractors in the safety and quality of using marble in home improvement.

6. The Tile Contractors Association of America (TCAA) Trowel of Excellence Program

The TCAA’s Trowel of Excellence certification is among the highest recognitions a tiler can receive. You must meet these eligibility requirements to apply for this certification:

  • Be a member of the TCAA and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
  • Contribute to the International Masonry Institute
  • I have run a tiling business for the past five years under a single name

Note: Due to the nature and dangers of the job, tilers are expected to acquire and maintain CPR and First Aid certification. This website can tell you how.

Further reading: 10 Small Business Essentials for 2022

State and Local Licenses

Licensed tiler tiling floor
The federal government does not grant tiling licenses. This is left to the city, county, and state licensing offices. Although each level of government has different licensing requirements, getting licensed in one government group will undoubtedly make reaching another level easier.

Getting Certified at the Local Level

When looking to get certified at the city or county level, your best bet is to contact your local clerk’s office to check for any requirements. Most will accept a state license as a form of compliance. They may still want certain documents or a copy of your license filled out.

Getting Certified at the State Level

State requirements vary from place to place. So, again, you need to contact your state’s licensing board for specific details. You need only a general contractor’s license in some states (which is why many licensed contractors offer tiling services in addition to doing building work).

However, some states require you to hold certification from a tiling-specific license board. Most states require contractors to have a good understanding of business procedures and the state laws concerning these procedures before obtaining a license.

Tip: Continue seeking knowledge and pursuing training even after you’re licensed. Staying current with new technologies and developments can give you the competitive edge to stay one step ahead of other tiling companies and subcontractors.

Marketing Your Tiling License

The best way to market your tiling license is to show it off. Here are a few places to do that:

  • Some certifications come with a button or seal on your website for all to see. Make sure to embed yours on your homepage if you have this option.
  • Alternatively, you can keep an identification card in your wallet to show customers when asked.
  • As most business owners do, you should frame and hang any certifications and licenses on the wall of your office. Occasionally, some clients may ask to see these as proof of your abilities.
  • You can add the certification logo to your work vehicles, clothing, and business cards.
  • Customers love to see official markings. Even if they don’t know the association that granted you their stamp of approval, they’ll trust you more for having one.
  • You can also market your business by adding your name to licensed tiler lists. Then, if someone is looking for a licensed tiler in your area, they’ll find your name and contact info on the list.

The Ceramic Tile Foundation and National Tile Contractors Association have extensive databases of professional tilers. Adding your name to these search engines may help you generate business.


Our List of the Best Credit Cards for Contractors

Getting licensed as a tiler can open up many opportunities for subcontractors. It can lead to increased pay and many types of work with clients.

In some fields, a license is a simple way to bolster your reputation in the customers’ eyes. However, in the tiling field, it’s a legal necessity.

If you are a tiling expert or have goals to become one, accumulating certifications and licenses will only increase your chances of success.

Self-good can help you along the way, too. For example, our freelancer benefit packages give you access to supplemental health insurance and more!