Blog > Careers

Glazier

Description

     A glazier is a person who installs, removes or repairs glass. Glaziers work on cutting, installing and repairing glass in all types of environments. Glaziers install glass in window frames and other surfaces. They work in stores, residential homes, commercial buildings, museums and other environments. They have to follow specific blueprints for each job. The work includes driving specific trucks that can transport glass, fabricating and installing metal sashes or molds to hold glass, weatherizing and sealing joints for glass installations, and securing work sites by removing old or broken glass before new installations.

     It is very important to have good hand eye coordination, and have a basic understanding of cutting and joining things. Glaziers also work with aluminum, steel, granite, marble, plastics and other glass substitutes. They use tools such as glass cutters, circle cutters, drills, saws, grinders, heat guns, heating irons, breaking blocks, files, lead, knives, soldering irons, and even computer programs. Precision and detail are necessary since it is such a hands on job. Good balance, hand eye coordination and physical strength are also valuable skills for being a glazier since it may involve climbing heights and using various technical tools.

Types

Residential – They work on home projects. This includes removing and repairing home windows, shower doors, glass tabletops and other types of display cases.

Commercial – These glaziers typically work on high rises and storefronts.

Specialty – These glaziers work on art glass installations for galleries, museums, hotels, casinos and other private and public spaces. Stained glass artist would also fit in this category.

Qualifications/Skills

     It is very important to have good hand and eye coordination, and have a basic understanding of cutting and joining things. Glaziers also work with aluminum, steel, granite, marble, plastics and other glass substitutes. They work with all different types of tools. Knowledge of working with different tools is essential for the job. Precision and detail are necessary as it is a very a hands on job. Good balance, hand eye coordination and physical strength are also valuable skills for being a glazier as it may involve climbing heights and using various technical tools. It also involves lots of bending, lifting, and working with fragile materials and reading blueprints.

     Previous experience in construction helps. You will handle glass that weighs hundreds of pounds. There is also a lot of standing involved. You will have to adjust the glass as people don’t always follow the blueprints or the blueprint may have something that may not work. Every job is a little different. This is a great career for people who like to think and be creative. Metal fabrication is a part of the job. Navigating blueprints is a key part of the job so it is essential to get good at it. Construction is done all over the country so you can find work anywhere. More work will be available in cities that are growing.

     Precision and detail is extremely important. Glaziers work with custom glass that is very expensive. Messing up or missing a detail from a blueprint will cause delays as some glass may have to be special ordered. Sometimes glaziers will work with computer programs that measure and design glass with even more precision.

     The Glass Installer Technician Certification is not necessary but it is helpful to have. Only 1 state, Connecticut, requires a license where you must pass a test. Florida used to require a license but removed that requirement in 2012. As always, check your local state website to see if anything has changed.

Training

     A typical glazier apprenticeship is 3-4 years. It typically consists of 2000 hours of paid training and at least 144 hours of classroom instruction every year. Classroom instruction may be at night after a day of work. Your salary will typically go up as you hit certain milestones during your apprenticeship.

Work Environment

     As stated before, this is a very physical job. Glaziers typically work for glass companies or construction companies. Safety is very important, as you will be handling expensive and dangerous equipment. It is important that you follow all safety protocols when on the job. If you were afraid of heights, it would be best to avoid being a commercial glazier as they often work on high-rise buildings. Your hours may vary depending on the construction job (sometimes you may have to work at night or early in the morning). You may have to work overtime to get a job done before a certain date.

Pros

     A glazier is a unique and interesting job. It is great for people who like to think and be creative. You can also work on many different types of projects so there will always be something new to learn. There are good growth opportunities in the future especially in big cities that are growing. A lot of new buildings are made out of glass. There is also a lot of work in many parts of the country so you are not limited geographically. You are also able to create your own custom glass company once you get enough experience. You get to interact with a lot of different professions so you can learn a lot. You can also transfer your skills to other parts of the construction industry if you would like to take on different types of work.

Cons

     This is a very physical job. It will tire out your body, so if you aren’t used to physical work or have physical ailments, this may not be the job for you. If you are not detail oriented, it is extremely easy to make an expensive mistake. If you prefer a job that is more repetitive, this may not be the job for you as each job will be a little different. You will sometimes have to deviate from the blueprint to make sure the job gets done. You also may have a lot of driving involved some days as glass needs to be transported in special vehicles.

Salary

Total Employment: 47,330

Mean Annual Wage: $47,480

Median Annual Wage: $42,580

Top 5 Highest Paying States

State Employment 

Annual mean wage 

Hawaii 380 $72,330
New Jersey 950 $71,300
Illinois 1,330 $69,590
Alaska 70 $61,030
Washington 2,110 $59,780

 Top 5 States with Highest Employment

State Employment 

Annual mean wage

California 6,600 $56,150
Texas 4,530 $36,530
Florida 3,770 $37,000
New York 2,480 $55,620
Washington 2,110 $59,780
 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (bls.gov)

Scoop

     Overall, a glazier is great job for someone that can handle the physical aspects of the job. You have good growth opportunities and you get to work on interesting projects. You will always learn on the job. As you gain more experience, your value as a glazier will rise. It is also good to be able to admire your work after it is done. A job site that isn’t complete looks completely different after everything is put together.

Helpful Links and References:

National Glass Association

https://www.glass.org/

The National Glass Association is a great resource for a glazier. It has a lot of educational resources and is great to follow to keep up with industry news. It is a must for glaziers who want to stay on top of their careers.

Online Glazier training by the National Glass Association

http://www.myglassclass.com/

The National Glass Association has an online class for glaziers. While an online glass is never a substitute for actual hands on experience, it will position an aspiring glazier and separate them from their competition. The classes include an introduction to the trade, safety protocols and information, glass and metal fabrication, and more.

Glaziers: Stories From People Who've Done It by Gigi Little (AMAZON)

This book is a MUST READ for someone who is serious about becoming a Glazier. The author goes over her personal experience and gives a lot of insight into the different aspects of glazing. The author has a lot of experience in different parts of the glazing industry so you get first hand experience into what the different aspects of glazing involve.