Concrete Finisher Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS) as the Red Seal standard for the Concrete Finisher trade.

Red Seal Occupational Standard Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Finisseur/finisseuse de béton

NOC: 7282

Designation Year: 1993

RSOS Products for Download

The Concrete Finisher Red Seal Occupational Standard is developed by Canadian trade representatives. It collects information about the trade as it is practiced across Canada.

This RSOS information is combined in several ways to generate several RSOS Products, each of these is based on information contained in the complete RSOS, and is geared to user needs:

Product Purpose
Red Seal Occupational Standard - Concrete Finisher A complete description of all trade activities, skills and knowledge. The Standard defines the trade by collecting and organizing elements together.
Trade Profile - Concrete Finisher A quick snapshot of all trade activities in the standard. It can be used to self-assess experience. It can be used to introduce a concise summary of all trade activities to those wanting to learn about the trade. It can also be used for gap analysis.
Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Concrete Finisher (PDF, 895 KB) Use this self-assessment tool to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information

Description of the Concrete Finisher Trade

“Concrete Finisher” is this trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This standard covers tasks performed by concrete finishers whose occupational title has been identified by some provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:

Concrete Finisher x x x x     x   x x      
Cement Finisher         x                
Cement (Concrete) Finisher           x              

Concrete finishers place, finish, protect and repair concrete surfaces. They work on a variety of vertical and horizontal surfaces such as concrete floors, walls, sidewalks, stairs, driveways, curbs and gutters, and overlays. They work on many types of structures such as buildings, dams, bridges and tunnels. They also texture, chip, grind and cure finished concrete work and repair and restore damaged concrete. They apply architectural finishes to concrete surfaces such as exposed aggregate, acid-stained, patterned-stamped, broomed, smooth finishes and etched concrete surfaces. They install expansion and contraction joints and install fixtures such as anchor bolts, steel plates and other embedments. They also apply membranes and other waterproofing products to concrete. Concrete finishers must possess a sound knowledge of the properties of various types of concrete mixes and how proportions, additives and curing affect concrete strength and durability. Materials that concrete finishers work with include concrete, grouts, chemical-curing compounds, exotics, epoxies, polyurethanes and acrylics. Concrete finishers should have a basic knowledge of constructing formwork, preparing subgrades and installing reinforcement.

Much of concrete placing and finishing has become mechanized with power screeds, power trowels, mechanical vibrators and pumps. Hand trowelling is still required for small jobs and to finish hard-to-reach spots in corners, edges, stairs and around obstacles such as pipes.

Concrete finishers work in the construction sector in both indoor and outdoor conditions. Outdoor work is weather-dependant and there may be less work available in the winter. Conversely, overtime is often required when the weather demands it.

Specialization in this trade is common. Concrete finishers specialize in working with specific materials such as coloured concrete, exposed aggregates and various epoxies, or specific techniques such as diamond-polishing concrete, power trowelling, and finishing curbs and gutters.

Key attributes for people entering this trade are stamina, spatial perception and hand-eye coordination. Creative and artistic skills are also helpful in this trade. Some physical activities of this trade are heavy lifting, climbing, balancing, bending, kneeling, crouching, crawling and reaching.

Concrete finishers work with a variety of other tradespeople. Heavy equipment operators may prepare the sub-base for concrete, ironworkers may prepare and place the reinforcing material and carpenters may place the formwork. Concrete finishers inspect this work and ensure that it is suitable for receiving the concrete. They also interact with plumbers and electricians when pipes and conduits are embedded in the concrete.

With experience, concrete finishers may move into supervisory, management or instructing roles.

Essential Skills Summary

Essential skills are needed for work, learning and life. They provide the foundation for learning all other skills and enable people to evolve with their jobs and adapt to workplace change.

Through extensive research, the Government of Canada and other national and international agencies have identified and validated nine essential skills. These skills are used in nearly every occupation and throughout daily life in different ways.

A series of CCDA-endorsed tools have been developed to support apprentices in their training and to be better prepared for a career in the trades. The tools can be used independently or with the assistance of a tradesperson, trainer, employer, teacher or mentor to:

  • understand how essential skills are used in the trades;
  • learn about individual essential skills strengths and areas for improvement; and
  • improve essential skills and increase success in an apprenticeship program.

The tools are available online or for order at:

The application of these skills may be described throughout this document within the competency statements which support each subtask of the trade. The following are summaries of the requirements in each of the essential skills, taken from the essential skills profile.

  • Reading

    Concrete finishers read instructions on labels for products. They read workplace safety materials as well as manuals, work orders, information sheets and reports. They also read emails and memos from supervisors and co-workers about ongoing work.

  • Document Use

    Concrete finishers locate data on documents such as labels, lists, tables and schedules. They use drawings, specifications and information in work orders and manufacturers’ instructions to plan and complete work. They use forms and production reports to keep track of information such as amount of concrete used, set-up and finishing times. Safety audit forms are used to identify hazards.

  • Writing

    Concrete finishers write brief text entries in forms and in logbooks. They may describe project details on estimate sheets. They write notes or emails to supervisors and co-workers about ongoing work, material requirements and equipment malfunctions. They may also complete safety documentation and write incident reports to describe events leading up to a workplace incident.

  • Oral Communication

    Concrete finishers discuss work orders, equipment and job task coordination with co-workers. They also discuss safety, productivity, and procedural and policy changes at meetings with co-workers, supervisors and clients. They inform supervisors about work progress and may seek guidance and approvals from them. They also talk to suppliers about orders and deliveries.

  • Numeracy

    Concrete finishers measure areas, distances, angles, slopes and volumes. They perform calculations such as volume of concrete and quantities of finishing products for jobs, and set timelines for placing, finishing, curing and protection tasks. They estimate time to complete tasks.

  • Thinking

    Thinking skills are important for concrete finishers. They make decisions about order of tasks and their priorities as well as the selection of tools and equipment, methods and products for concrete finishing and repair. They evaluate the preparedness of job sites for placing and finishing concrete. They problem solve in situations that affect job completion such as insufficient manpower on-site, equipment breakdowns, late or missing deliveries, and job site safety and inaccessibility. They also assess the quality of concrete finishing jobs by checking elevations, observing the appearance and consistency of concrete, and evaluating the aesthetic appearance of decorative concrete work.

  • Digital Technology

    Technologies are transforming the ways in which concrete finishers obtain, analyze and communicate information. They use devices, such as calculators or calculating applications on their personal devices to complete numeracy-related tasks. They use communications software to exchange emails with clients, co-workers and supervisors.

    Self-employed concrete finishers may use bookkeeping, accounting and billing software. They may use word processing, spreadsheet or database software to prepare job estimates, calculate costs and retrieve forms and drawings.

  • Working with Others

    Concrete finishers coordinate job tasks with other finishers and trades to complete jobs. They also coordinate job tasks with drivers, operators, surveyors and other tradespeople on work sites.

  • Continuous Learning

    Concrete finishers are continuously learning new skills relating to evolving technologies and materials. They may learn on the job through mentorship or through formal training.

Trends in the Concrete Finisher Trade


There is a trend toward specialty concretes, including high performance concrete.

There is a greater emphasis on safety and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when working with materials in this trade.

In the area of vertical repairs, there is an increasing use of high performance repair materials.

There is a growing use of self-levelling underlayments for floor levelling.

The use of superplasticizers increase workability and reduce drying shrinkage. Macro-synthetic and steel fibres in cast-in-place concrete increases durability, and reduces cracking and movement. Concrete finishers may be required to add these materials to the mix on-site and the texture of those materials can cause some difficulties during the placement and finishing processes.

Increasingly, construction specifications are calling for floors with higher floor flatness and levelness (FF and FL) numbers. These tolerances mean that concrete finishers must have skills and experience in the installation of these floors.

There is an increase in architectural designs in concrete installation, which involves dyes as a topical application to concrete, similar to acid staining.

Diamond-polished concrete is becoming more common as an interior finish.

Tools and Equipment

Concrete finishers have access to an increasing variety of machines. Some machines spread materials, resulting in more accurate distribution. Laser-guided, mechanically operated screeds increase flatness and levelness of slabs. 3D-imaging equipment has been introduced to scan floor flatness and give instant feedback on tolerances of concrete. Edge machines used to finish edges are reducing the amount of overall handwork necessary. Technological advances in riding equipment have resulted in less physical strain to the concrete finisher and have increased productivity, flatness and improved quality of the finish.

In the field of curb and gutter construction, GPS technology to guide curb extruders has been introduced.

Industry Expected Performance

All tasks must be performed according to the applicable jurisdictional codes and standards. All health and safety standards must be respected and observed. Work should be done efficiently and to a good quality without material waste or environmental damage. All requirements of the manufacturer and client specifications must be met. At a journeyperson level of performance, all tasks must be done with minimal direction and supervision. As a journeyperson progresses in their career there is an expectation they continue to upgrade their skills and knowledge to keep pace with industry and promote continuous learning in their trade through mentoring of apprentices.

Language Requirements

It is expected that journeypersons are able to understand and communicate in either English or French, which are Canada’s official languages. English or French are the common languages of business as well as languages of instruction in apprenticeship programs.


The CCDA and ESDC wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespeople, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special thanks are offered to the following representatives who contributed greatly to the original draft of the standard and provided expert advice throughout its development:

  • Ronald Adamson - British Columbia
  • Andrew Aronson - Alberta
  • William Cabot - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Luciano Caranci - Ontario
  • Tomas Castro - British Columbia
  • Jack Cerqueira - Ontario
  • Noah Dodds - Alberta
  • Michael Frias - Manitoba
  • Geoffrey Kinney - Ontario
  • Carl Nunes - New Brunswick
  • Garry Russell - Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Kristjan Sackney - Manitoba
  • Manuel Antonio Teixeira - Quebec
  • Jason Vander Veen - Alberta

This standard was prepared by the Apprenticeship and Regulated Occupations Directorate of ESDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the standards development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division and of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the host jurisdiction for this trade.