Training, Certifications, Skills, Advancement: Glaziers

Many glaziers learn the trade informally on the job. They usually start as helpers, carrying glass and cleaning up debris in glass shops. They often practice cutting on discarded glass. After a while, they are given an opportunity to cut glass for a job. Eventually, helpers assist experienced workers on simple installation jobs. By working with experienced glaziers, they eventually acquire the skills of a fully qualified glazier.

Employers recommend that glaziers learn the trade through a formal apprenticeship program that lasts 3 to 4 years. Apprenticeship programs, which are administered by the National Glass Association and local union-management committees or local contractorsí associations, consist of on-the-job training and a minimum of 144 hours of classroom instruction or home study each year. On the job, apprentices 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. In the classroom, they are taught basic mathematics, blueprint reading and sketching, general construction techniques, safety practices, and first aid. Learning the trade through an apprenticeship program usually takes less time and provides more complete training than acquiring skills informally on the job, but opportunities to obtain apprenticeships are declining.

Local apprenticeship administrators determine the physical, age, and educational requirements needed by applicants for apprenticeships and for helper positions. In general, applicants must be in good physical condition and be at least 18 years old. High school or vocational school graduates are preferred. In some areas, applicants must take mechanical-aptitude tests. Courses in general mathematics, blueprint reading or mechanical drawing, general construction, and shop provide a good background.

Standards for acceptance into apprenticeship programs are rising to reflect changing skill requirements associated with the use of new products and equipment. In addition, the growing use of computers in glass layout requires that glaziers be familiar with personal computers.

Because many glaziers do not learn the trade through a formal apprenticeship program, some associations offer a series of written examinations that certify an individualís competency to perform glazier work at three progressively more difficult levels of proficiency. These levels include Level I, Glazier; Level II, Commercial Interior/Residential Glazier or Storefront/Curtainwall Glazier; and Level III, Master Glazier. There also is a certification program for auto-glass repair.

Advancement generally consists of increases in pay for most glaziers; some advance to supervisory jobs or become contractors or estimators.