How do I become a parquet layer?

Strip, mosaic or herringbone? Parquet layers have it all in their repertoire. From large construction sites to private houses, they give floors their final finish.

The right floor is important wherever you are, whether in the office or at home. It needs to be functional; at the same time, it needs to blend in. While parquet gave the profession its name, today parquet layers deal with much more than this type of flooring. Their duties also involve cutting linoleum to size, gluing down carpets and laying cork floors.

Ivan Dreer and Ibrahim Cayli are learning what's involved. The two of them are in the third apprenticeship year of their training with the company Bembé Parkett. One of the most important requirements for the profession is enjoying and being interested in working with the material. You also need to be good with your hands. "However, you also have to be prepared to muck in," explains Dreer. "For this you need to have strength and perseverance."

Interior design needs creativity

The ability to think in three dimensions and mathematical skills are also important explains Markus Bretschneider, who is responsible for industrial and technical occupations at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). There is no formal access requirement such as a specific school-leaving certificate. According to Bretschneider, the vast majority of trainees have a lower secondary school leaving certificate.

At Bembé Parkett, there's an early start to the working day for trainees; everything gets going at 7.00 in the morning. Vehicles need to be loaded accordingly depending on the construction sites where the work is taking place. Having arrived at the construction site, the apprentices set about tasks including transporting the parquet wood and preparing all the tools and equipment.

Finishing touches for the parquet

"The everyday tasks of the parquet layer include checking the basic conditions for the laying," explains Markus Bretschneider. Next, the craftsmen need to prepare the subfloor, for example by levelling it out.

For the final finish to the floors, the parquet layers treat the surfaces and seal them for example with oil, varnish or artificial resin. When they’re not laying new parquet, the wood experts also take care of the maintenance and restoration of parquet floors.

From construction site to construction site

After three weeks in the company and on different construction sites, each of the trainees then has one week at vocational school. The necessary theory is delivered in the classroom. This is where the aspiring parquet layers learn about the different sanding techniques and about the machines which they need to be able to work with.

The two trainees get around quite a bit, sometimes working on large construction sites, other times on private ones. As part of his everyday work, Cayli enjoys laying two-layer parquet most of all: "It's quick," he says. The physical side of the work, however, is less fun. "But when you have finished everything and can see what you've created, well that's just awesome," adds Dreer.

Great prospects thanks to the skilled worker shortage

Compared to other occupations in construction, a parquet layer's pay is not particularly generous. According to the Federal Employment Agency, the gross remuneration for trainees in the skilled trade of parquet and floor laying ranges between € 595 gross in the first year and € 715 in the third year. Aspiring bricklayers for example earn this in their first year of training.

According to Bretschneider, however, the career opportunities must be rated as good due to the shortage of skilled workers. The issue of sustainability is one in particular which the sector is addressing. Following the training, the journeymen and journeywomen can specialise, for example, in laying industrial parquet or in restoration work. Those who wish to advance can continue on their career path as a parquet layer master craftsperson.

Source: (article in the German newspaper Merkur), revised by iMOVE, July 2020