Glaziers install windows, skylights, and other glass products in storefronts and buildings.

Duties

Glaziers typically do the following:

  • Follow blueprints or specifications
  • Remove any old or broken glass before installing replacement glass
  • Cut glass to the specified size and shape
  • Make or install sashes or moldings for glass installation
  • Fasten glass into sashes or frames with clips, moldings, or other types of fasteners
  • Add weather seal or putty around pane edges to seal joints

Glass has many uses in modern life. For example, insulated and specially treated glass keeps in warm or cool air and controls sound and condensation. Tempered and laminated glass makes doors and windows more secure. The creative use of large windows, glass doors, skylights, and sunroom additions makes buildings bright, airy, and inviting. Glaziers specialize in installing these different glass products.

In homes, glaziers install or replace windows, mirrors, shower doors, and bathtub enclosures. They fit glass for tabletops and display cases. On commercial interior projects, glaziers install items such as heavy, often etched, decorative room dividers or security windows. Glazing projects also may involve replacing storefront windows for supermarkets, auto dealerships, banks, and many other establishments.

For most large-scale construction jobs, glass is pre-cut and mounted into frames at a factory or a contractor’s shop. The finished glass arrives at the jobsite ready for glaziers to position and secure into place. Using cranes or hoists with suction cups, workers lift large, heavy pieces of glass for installation. In cases where the glass is not secure inside the frame, glaziers may attach steel and aluminum sashes or frames to the building, and then secure the glass with clips, moldings, or other types of fasteners. 

Many windows are now being covered with laminates—a thin film or coating that covers glass. These coatings provide additional durability, security, and can add color or tint to interior and exterior glass. The laminate also prevents glass from shattering, making it ideal for commercial use in areas prone to high winds.

A few glaziers work with plastics, granite, marble, and other materials used as glass substitutes.

Workers who replace and repair glass in motor vehicles are covered in the automotive body and glass repairers profile. 

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Work Environment

Glaziers held about 46,700 jobs in 2012, of which 61 percent were employed in the foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors industry. Another 14 percent were employed in the building material and supplies dealers industry. About 8 percent of glaziers were self-employed.

As in many other construction trades, the work is physically demanding. Glaziers spend most of the day standing, bending, or stretching, and they often must lift and maneuver heavy, cumbersome materials, such as large glass plates.

When installing glass plates on buildings, glaziers often lead a team of construction workers in guiding and installing the pieces into place.

Injuries and Illnesses

Typical injuries for glaziers include cuts from tools and glass, and falls from ladders and scaffolding.

Work Schedules

Most glaziers work full time. About 8 percent of glaziers were self-employed in 2012, many of whom can set their own schedule.

Education and Training

Glaziers typically enter the occupation with a high school diploma and learn their trade through an apprenticeship.

Education

Glaziers typically enter the occupation with a high school diploma or equivalent. High school courses in math are considered useful. Some prospective glaziers attend technical schools to earn a certificate.

Training

The typical training for glaziers is a 4-year apprenticeship. Each year, apprentices must have at least 144 hours of related technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. On the job, they 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. Technical training includes installation techniques as well as basic mathematics, blueprint reading and sketching, general construction techniques, safety practices, and first aid.

After completing an apprenticeship program, glaziers are considered to be journey workers who may do tasks on their own. 

A few groups sponsor apprenticeship programs, including several union and contractor associations. The basic qualifications to enter an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • High school education or equivalent
  • Physically able to perform the work

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Connecticut and Florida require glaziers to have a license. Licensure requirements include passing a test, completing an apprenticeship, and a combination of education and work experience.

The National Glass Association offers a series of written exams that certify an individual’s competency to perform glazier work as a Certified Glass Installer Technician.

Important Qualities

Balance. To minimize the risk of falling, glaziers need a good sense of balance while working on ladders and scaffolding.

Hand-eye coordination. Glass must be precisely cut. As a result, a steady hand is needed to achieve a cut of the correct size and shape.

Physical stamina. Glaziers must be on their feet and move heavy pieces of glass most of the day. They need to be able to hold glass in place until it can be fully secured.

Physical strength. Glaziers must often lift heavy pieces of glass for hanging. Physical strength, therefore, is important for the occupation.

Pay

The median annual wage for glaziers was $37,610 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $24,170, and the top 10 percent earned more than $69,120.

The median annual wage for glaziers in the foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors industry was $39,080 in May 2012.

The median annual wage for glaziers in the building material and supplies dealers industry was $34,790 in May 2012.

The starting pay for apprentices is usually near 50 percent of what fully trained glaziers make, receiving pay increases as they learn to do more. Glaziers who work at great heights may be eligible for hazard-premium pay.

Most glaziers work full time. About 8 percent of glaziers were self-employed in 2012, many of whom can set their own schedule.

Job Outlook

Employment of glaziers is projected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations.

Employment growth is expected as commercial construction increasingly uses glass exteriors. As glass manufacturers continue to improve the energy efficiency of glass windows, architects are designing more buildings with glass exteriors, especially in the South.

In addition, the continuing need to modernize and repair existing structures, including many homes, often involves installing new windows. Furthermore, specialized laminated glass is increasingly being installed in homes and commercial and government buildings.

Nonetheless, the availability of prefabricated windows that carpenters and general contractors can install may limit overall employment growth of glaziers.

Job Prospects

Good job opportunities are expected from the need to replace glaziers who leave the occupation each year.

Because employers prefer workers who can do many different tasks, glaziers with a wide range of skills will have the best job opportunities. In addition, workers with military service experience are viewed favorably during initial hiring.

Like many other types of construction worker jobs, employment of glaziers is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, glaziers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.

Employment opportunities should be best in the South and in metropolitan areas, where most glazing contractors and glass shops are located.

For More Information

For details about apprenticeships or other work opportunities in this trade, contact the offices of the state employment service, the state apprenticeship agency, local contractors or firms that employ glaziers, or local union-management finishing trade apprenticeship committees. Apprenticeship information is available from the U.S. Department of Labor's toll free help line: 1 (877) 872-5627 or the Employment and Training Administration.

For more information about glaziers, visit

Associated Builders and Contractors

Finishing Trades Institute

International Union of Painters and Allied Trades

National Glass Association

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