How to become a plasterer

A plasterer using a smoothing tool to achieve a level surface on a wall.

Plasterers are highly skilled tradespeople. Required within both the construction and interior design industries, experience and technical knowledge is needed in order to become a successful plasterer.

However, as with many trades, there is no one clear career path all plasterers are required to follow. Instead there are many gateways into this rewarding and potentially lucrative trade.

In this guide, we take a look at the different ways you can launch your career as a plasterer. We also outline exactly what professional plasterers do, and answer what trade-specific insurance policies plasterers may require.

What does a plasterer do?

As the name suggests, the primary job of a plasterer is to apply plaster to walls and ceilings. Used in almost all building interiors in the UK, this process is essential. It is done to make brick and stone walls stronger and more insulated. However, it also serves a decorative purpose. By plastering a wall or ceiling, you are replacing typically rough surfaces with smooth shiny ones that can be more easily decorated.

As well as creating smooth surfaces, specialist plasterers are also employed to create more ornate finishes. Also known as fibrous plasterers, these plasterers create features such as ceiling roses and fireplace surrounds. Naturally, the more experienced and specialist a plasterer is, the higher day rates they can typically command.

How to become a plasterer in the UK

As touched on above, there is no one way to become a plasterer in the UK. Instead, there are a number of different options available to those looking to start a career in this field. Below we take a look at some of the most common ways to get into this trade.

Do you need qualifications to be a plasterer?

You do not require any qualifications to start working as a plasterer in the UK. This means, in theory at least, anyone can charge for plastering services. However, formal training and on-the-job experience can certainly help when it comes to finding work or starting your own plastering business. With this in mind, there are three major ways to pick up the skills and experience you need to thrive. 

College courses

The first way individuals can gain the skills and knowledge needed to become a successful plasterer is by enrolling in a college course. Through a mixture of classroom-based study and practical learning, National Vocational Qualification diplomas show employers and potential clients you have the skills required to do a good job.

Courses can be found for all competencies. For example, those with no experience at all may opt for a Level 2 Diploma in Plastering. On the other hand, if you have some plastering experience, a Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Plastering might be more appropriate.

Once a diploma has been gained, budding plasterers may find it easier to find work experience/internships. This combination of technical knowledge - formalised through your diploma - and practical experience, will likely make finding full-time plastering work much easier in the future.


Plastering apprenticeships are another great way to get into this profession. Open to anyone over the age of 16, these schemes see individuals combine part-time employment (with an experienced plasterer) with a trade-specific college education. Although application processes are competitive, if you are able to secure an apprenticeship, these options give you the opportunity to earn while you learn.

Typically taking two years to complete, you will be paid for working a minimum of 30 hours a week with your employer. Usually six hours of this time will be spent at college gaining an accompanying qualification.

Relevant work experience

The final way to become a plasterer is to simply gain as much practical experience as you can through work experience. Remember, although formal training is recommended, it is not compulsory. That being said, in order to secure work, on-the-job experience is crucial.

So, whether you’re still in full-time education but are eying up a career in plastering, or you’re an adult looking for a new profession - gain as much relevant experience as possible. For example, ask experienced plasterers if you can work with them in your spare time. On these occasions you should help in any way you can, learn from the expert tradespeople involved and note down all experiences. This can be added to your CV. You never know - your hard work could pay off and, if you impress, you may be hired in a junior role. Over time, as you absorb all you can from the skilled experts, this causal experience can grow into a full-time career.

Do plasterer apprentices need to be insured?

As an apprentice, you don’t need to consider taking out insurance in the way a self-employed plasterer would. This is because you’ll be working as an employee. Responsibility for insurance lies with employers and not individual apprentices. This is to say, as an apprentice plasterer, you are under no obligation to purchase any form of insurance yourself as you should be covered by your employer’s liability insurance.

However, if after your training you become a self-employed plasterer, and maybe even want to hire an apprentice yourself, you will be legally required to take out employers' liability insurance. This is because, in UK law, apprentices are classed as full-time employees. Indeed, with a whole host of health and safety risks plasterers need to be aware of, this type of cover is not only a legal requirement, it is also an important way to protect yourself financially if you run a plastering business.

Although there is no legal obligation for self-employed plasterers to hold any other insurance policies, clients may require you to be covered before hiring you. For this reason, taking out public liability insurance, as a minimum, is a good idea. This will protect you against claims of injury or property damage caused by your work. It also covers you from claims arising from accidents involving clients or members of the public on your premises. This could include dropping a plastering trowel on a client’s foot, causing injury, for example.

Here at Markel Direct, we offer specialist plasterer insurance packages. These tailored policies  allow you to combine a number of covers together into a single policy. This can help give you complete peace of mind at all times, allowing you to focus fully on the job at hand.

Business insurance from £5 a month