Tilesetter National Occupational Analysis (NOA)

The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) recognizes this National Occupational Analysis (NOA) as the national standard for the occupation of Tilesetter.

Occupational Analyses Series

Disponible en français sous le titre : Carreleur/carreleuse

NOC: 7283

Designation Year: 2001

PDF download

Download the PDF version (738 KB) of this content.

Red Seal Exam Self-Assessment Guide – Tilesetter

Use this self-assessment tool (PDF, 704 KB) to rate your own understanding and experience with the tasks of the trade that are on the Red Seal examination.

General Information


“Tilesetter” is the trade’s official Red Seal occupational title approved by the CCDA. This analysis covers tasks performed by tilesetters whose occupational title has been identified by provinces and territories of Canada under the following names:














Terrazzo, Tile and Marble Craft










Tilesetters cover, protect, repair and decorate exterior and interior walls, floors, ceilings, fireplaces, swimming pools, saunas, showers and other surfaces. Tiling materials include ceramic, mosaics, glass, quarry tiles, slate, engineered stone, terrazzo, porcelain and marble or granite slabs.

Tilesetters read and interpret architectural drawings and material specifications to determine tile layout, finish and installation requirements. They may also design patterns for the area to be tiled. They prepare surfaces for tiling which may involve applying a variety of products such as membranes, mortar beds and underlayments. They select, mix, apply and spread mortar, cement, mastic, epoxy or other adhesives to the surface to be tiled. They cut and fit tiles to a variety of surfaces and finish tiles using grout. Tilesetters may also lay and set mosaic tiles to create decorative wall, mural and floor designs. Some tilesetters cut, polish and install marble and granite which may involve setting stone mechanically. They may also mix, lay, grind and polish terrazzo surfaces. Tilesetters may install marble using plaster and wire methods.

Tilesetters use special hand and power tools like tile cutters and saws to cut tiles to the correct size. Hand tools such as trowels are used to apply setting materials to fasten tiles to a surface. Levels, squares, straight edges and grid lines are used to align and straighten tiles. Grinding and polishing machines are used for finishing certain surfaces. Heavy equipment such as cranes may be used to transport and install product. Industrial mixers and pumps may be used in various installation processes.

Tilesetters may be employed by companies working in the residential, commercial and institutional field. Tilesetters may work in the private sector, in a union or be self-employed. Tilesetters often work with designers, clients, architects, suppliers and manufacturers.

Tilesetters generally work indoors. Some work such as cladding and swimming pools may be performed outside, exposing workers to inclement weather. The work can be physically demanding, requiring bending, kneeling, reaching, heavy lifting and working at heights.

Some important attributes in this trade include a good knowledge of mathematics to calculate weights and angles, wall and ceiling measurements, and the amount of material required to complete the work. The ability to read blueprints, shop drawings and specifications is also important. Planning and visual skills are needed in the design stage. Tilesetters are required to have a good eye for colour and layout, since they may prearrange tiles to confirm a specific design. Aptitudes include manual and spatial dexterity, eye-hand co-ordination and good balance and vision. Good communication and interpersonal skills are also important.

This analysis recognizes similarities with the work of bricklayers, stone masons, plasterers, drywall installers, floor covering installers and carpenters. Experienced tilesetters may advance to foreperson, instructor or supervisory positions.

Occupational Observations

The preferences for tiling materials used on jobs are changing. There is a decrease in the use of ceramic tile as porcelain, stone and glass tile are becoming more popular. Projects requiring a combination of glass and stone are being requested more often. The increased use of large format stone and tile has consequences such as the capacity of saws and cutters required to complete the work. Therefore, larger cutting tools are being introduced on the market.

Work time has increased due to many factors such as complexity of design, environmental and safety concerns, and engineered products. Advances in materials such as engineered backer boards, heat cables and shower systems continue to facilitate installation and optimize performance. Waterproofing systems are being introduced to eliminate water damage and allowing for easier and quicker installation. Laser tools are becoming more popular since they are easier to use than traditional tools.

Epoxy terrazzo’s unique, smooth, seamless and durable surface is becoming more popular due to hygiene concerns in hospitals, restaurants and schools. New dustless mortars are making their way into the market due to health concerns. New setting materials are being introduced to simplify the installation process done by tilesetters and to meet more stringent environmental standards.

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:

Tools are available online or for order.

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

Tilesetters require strong reading skills to read instructions and specification guides on installation procedures and the most effective way to use or apply a product. Tilesetters read work orders to learn about specific client requests and instructions from co-workers and forepersons to coordinate work activities.

Tilesetters interpret shop drawings and blueprints to calculate measurements and determine pattern layout. Tilesetters also refer to provincial building codes and industry resources.

Tilesetters use writing skills to prepare work orders, timesheets and instructions for co-workers to co-ordinate work. They may keep personal logbooks on the details and status of tasks performed. On occasion, tilesetters may need to complete hazard or near-miss reports.

Tilesetters interact with supervisors to receive directions and assignments. They communicate with co-workers, other trades and customers to coordinate work and schedule activities. Tilesetters may instruct apprentices and speak with suppliers when ordering product.

Tilesetters measure and calculate product quantities taking into consideration factors such as slopes, curves and pattern layout. They calculate mix ratios and convert measurements between imperial and metric systems.

Tilesetters often have to use thinking skills to resolve problems like laying tile in rooms that are not square. They make decisions regarding the best way to complete a job and then plan and organize the implementation of that work. Tilesetters keep track of priorities, safety considerations, client instructions and job-specific installation details.

Tilesetters can work independently, as part of a team on larger projects or with an apprentice. They coordinate projects with co-workers and other trades. Tilesetters also maintain close contact with supervisors, forepersons and clients to discuss job details, address problems and perform quality control checks.

Tilesetters may use computer software to design layouts, communicate with clients, for research, and develop work orders and other documentation.

Technical upgrading is offered by some manufacturers when new products or equipment are introduced. Provincial construction associations offer safety training courses. Tilesetters may upgrade or develop new skills through various means such as working with more experienced tilesetters or supervisors.


The Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeship (CCDA) and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) wish to express sincere appreciation for the contribution of the many tradespersons, industrial establishments, professional associations, labour organizations, provincial and territorial government departments and agencies, and all others who contributed to this publication.

Special acknowledgement is extended by HRSDC and the CCDA to the following representatives from the trade.

This analysis was prepared by the Workplace Partnerships Directorate of HRSDC. The coordinating, facilitating and processing of this analysis were undertaken by employees of the NOA development team of the Trades and Apprenticeship Division. Carl Geoffroy for the host jurisdiction of Quebec also participated in the development of this NOA.

Comments or questions about NOAs may be forwarded to:

Trades and Apprenticeship Division
Labour Market Integration Directorate
Employment and Social Development Canada
140 Promenade du Portage, Phase IV, 6th Floor
Gatineau, Quebec  K1A 0J9
Email: redseal-sceaurouge@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca