Concrete Finisher Red Seal Occupational Standard (RSOS)

Table of Contents

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:

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:

Occupational titles
Concrete Finisher Check Mark Check Mark Check Mark Check Mark     Check Mark   Check Mark Check Mark      
Cement Finisher         Check Mark                
Cement (Concrete) Finisher           Check Mark              

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:

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.

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:

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.