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How to Become a Brickmason

By Stephen Carrozzino

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Are you looking for a new career path or simply curious about masonry? This guide will provide you with the information you need. Our mission will be to unveil the true meaning of masonry, the different roles, such as brickmason and blockmason, and the nuances of this career.

Career Summary

How Much Do a Brickmason and Blockmason Make?

Brickmason Salary

As per Glassdoor data as of 2023:

In 2020, the average annual wage for those working in the U.S. was close to US$69,000 meaning that a Brickmason and Blockmason’s wage is generally lower than the national average.

Brickmason and Blockmason Career Summary

A brickmason, a bricklayer, is a skilled professional who uses bricks, structural tiles, and other similar materials to build walls, partitions, fireplaces, and other structures. They’re involved in various stages of construction projects, including laying out patterns, cutting bricks for fitting corners, applying mortar, and ensuring that structures are straight and durable.

Blockmasons focus on handling concrete blocks, usually larger and heavier than bricks. These blocks, known for their durability and cost-effectiveness, are common in larger construction projects such as commercial buildings, schools, and various infrastructure projects.

Brickmason and Blockmason Career Progression

  • Apprentice Brickmason/Blockmason: The entry-level role of a brickmason or blockmason is where they learn the craft under the supervision of experienced masons. The job primarily involves assisting with basic tasks and gradually taking on more responsibilities as skills improve.
  • Journeyman Brickmason/Blockmason: After completing their apprenticeship, a mason becomes a journeyman. They can work independently, interpreting blueprints and performing all the necessary tasks to construct brick structures.
  • Master Brickmason/Blockmason: A master mason has significant experience and is proficient in specialized or advanced masonry techniques. They may handle more complex projects and ensure that the quality of work is upheld.
  • Supervising Brickmason/Blockmason (Foreman): The supervising mason manages teams of brickmasons and blockmasons on a construction project. They plan and oversee the work, ensuring it meets project specifications and safety standards.
  • Project Manager: A project manager oversees all aspects of a construction project, including managing brickmasons and blockmasons, coordinating with other trades, and communicating with clients and architects.

Pros:

  • Hands-On, Creative Work: Brickmasons have the opportunity to build concrete structures and see the results of their work.
  • High Demand: There’s a constant need for skilled masons in construction, ensuring job security.
  • Independence: Many masons can work independently once they gain sufficient experience.

Cons:

  • Physically Demanding: The job requires heavy lifting and long periods of standing, bending, and kneeling, which can be physically exhausting.
  • Exposure to Harsh Weather: Brickmasons and blockmasons often work outdoors, where they’re exposed to all weather conditions.
  • Safety Risks: Despite strict safety standards, there are inherent risks related to working at heights and using heavy tools and machinery.

Useful Skills to Have as a Brickmason or Blockmason

  • Physical Strength and Stamina
  • Precision and Attention to Detail
  • Ability to Read and Interpret Blueprints
  • Knowledge of Safety Practices
  • Problem-Solving Skills

Popular Brickmason and Blockmason Specialties

  • Residential Masonry: Specializing in constructing residential buildings like homes and apartments.
  • Commercial Masonry: Specializing in commercial projects, including office buildings, shopping malls, and more.
  • Restoration Masonry: Focused on restoring, repairing, and preserving old or damaged brickwork.
  • Decorative Masonry: Specializing in creating decorative elements, like ornate fireplaces, archways, and brick patterns.
  • Industrial Masonry: Working on large-scale industrial projects like factories and power plants.

How to become a Brickmason or Blockmason

Embarking on this career path involves a series of systematic steps designed to instill the necessary skills and knowledge required for success. The process of becoming a brickmason or blockmason is as complex as it is rewarding, starting from basic education and moving towards hands-on training, apprenticeship, and ultimately, mastery in the field

Education

When it comes to professions in construction, knowledge is key. That’s particularly true for brickmasons, where theoretical understanding merges with practical skills to create true trade artisans.

In high school, potential brickmasons and blockmasons should focus on courses such as mathematics, shop, and physical education. Mathematics is especially important as masons frequently need to calculate the amount of materials needed for a job or to verify the alignment and layout of their work. Shop classes can provide hands-on experience with tools and materials, fostering an appreciation and understanding of the tangible nature of the work. Physical education can help students build the endurance and strength necessary for this physically demanding profession.

Securing a high school diploma or its equivalent also demonstrates a level of commitment and perseverance that employers and apprenticeship programs find desirable. And while a high school education may seem like a modest beginning, it serves as the cornerstone for the more specialized training that lies ahead.

Do I Need a Degree to Become a Brickmason?

The short answer is no. Acquiring a degree to become a Brickmason is not an absolute necessity; nevertheless, the inherent value of formal education should not be discounted. A comprehensive understanding of the crucial principles in construction, mathematics, safety protocols, and project management can significantly amplify one’s competencies in this trade.

Primarily, it’s worth acknowledging that masonry lies at the intersection of creativity and technical prowess, with each aspect contributing to the successful fulfillment of the job’s requirements. Therefore, it is beneficial for an aspiring brickmason or blockmason to have a solid grounding in both realms.

Why Is it Important to Get a Degree in Brickmasonry?

A degree in a related field like construction technology can provide a solid foundation for your career as a brickmason or blockmason. It equips you with critical technical knowledge about materials, construction standards, and the latest tools used in the field. It can also open up opportunities for career advancement and leadership roles.

Construction knowledge, for instance, is paramount in this line of work. A degree in construction science, construction management, or civil engineering could offer substantial insight into different building techniques, types of materials, and structural design principles. This could enhance a mason’s understanding of the construction process, enabling them to contribute more effectively to a building project.

Furthermore, mathematics plays a crucial role in masonry. A strong mathematical foundation is advantageous from calculating the number of bricks required for a project to determining the appropriate mortar mix. A mason must also understand geometry to ensure the accurate alignment and placement of bricks. Thus, formal education in mathematics can directly contribute to these practical aspects of the job.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Degree in Masonry Construction?

The duration required to secure a degree or certification in masonry primarily depends on the program one opts for and the individual’s learning rate.

Predominantly, an Associate’s degree in construction technology or a related field, which could be exceedingly beneficial for a future brickmason or blockmason, generally requires approximately two years of full-time study. This program typically combines theoretical coursework and practical training, offering a comprehensive insight into construction and masonry.

On the other hand, numerous vocational schools provide certificate programs related to masonry. These programs, focused on hands-on training and technical skills essential for the trade, can often be completed in a significantly shorter time frame. Some of these certificate programs can be accomplished in less than a year, depending on the intensity of the curriculum and the student’s commitment to the course.

Additionally, if you decide to pursue your education part-time due to work or personal obligations, earning your degree or certification might extend the time.

How Much Does it Cost to Study Masonry Construction at University?

The cost can vary widely based on the institution, the degree level, and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. On average, an associate degree may cost anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000.

It is recommended to research specific universities and their tuition fees, as well as any financial aid or scholarships that may be available. Additionally, consider community colleges or vocational schools that offer more affordable options for masonry construction education.

Can I Become a Brickmason or Blockmason Through Online Education?

While online education can provide valuable theoretical knowledge and understanding of masonry principles, becoming a brickmason or blockmason typically requires practical, hands-on training and experience. The nature of masonry work involves working with physical materials, understanding construction techniques, and developing skills that are best learned through in-person instruction and on-site practice.

However, online education can still complement your learning journey by providing theoretical knowledge, safety training, and foundational concepts related to masonry. Some online courses or programs may cover topics such as masonry basics, construction principles, and industry standards. These resources can be a useful starting point or supplement to hands-on training, apprenticeships, or vocational programs.

What are Some Web Resources to Learn Skills to Become a Brickmason or Blockmason?

There are several web resources available that can help you learn skills related to becoming a brickmason or blockmason. Here are a few examples:

  • Masonry Magazine: This online publication provides articles, guides, and industry news related to masonry construction. It covers topics ranging from techniques and best practices to equipment and materials.
  • The Masonry Society: The Masonry Society offers resources, publications, and technical documents that cover various aspects of masonry construction. They provide educational materials and guidelines related to masonry design, construction, and preservation.
  • National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER): The NCCER is a not-for-profit education foundation created to develop industry-driven standardized craft training programs with portable credentials and help address the critical workforce shortage facing the construction industry. This organization provides a range of services that are fundamental to the advancement of knowledge in the construction sector. The NCCER’s curriculum, which spans multiple levels of competence, is recognized by the industry for its comprehensive nature. It covers a broad spectrum of construction disciplines, including, but not limited to, safety, project management, green building, and craft skills such as carpentry, electrical, and heavy equipment operations. Furthermore, NCCER offers the benefit of a credentialing system. These credentials are significant because they not only provide proof of the holder’s qualifications and skills, but they’re also portable, which means they are recognized across the industry, irrespective of geographic location. This flexibility and portability substantially enhance career prospects and employability for those in the construction industry.
  • Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA): The MCAA, on the other hand, is the national trade association representing mason contractors. The MCAA is committed to preserving and promoting the masonry industry by providing continuing education, advocating fair codes and standards, fostering a safe work environment, recruiting future manpower, and marketing the benefits of masonry materials. The MCAA offers a variety of resources and training programs aimed at enhancing mason contractors’ professional skills and knowledge. These include webinars, on-demand training, and extensive libraries of technical articles and safety tips. Moreover, the MCAA provides certification programs for masons, which, like the credentials offered by the NCCER, are highly respected in the industry and can significantly increase the holder’s employability.

Practical Experience

Acquiring practical experience is an integral step in your journey to becoming a skilled brickmason or blockmason. The magic of masonry doesn’t solely reside in textbooks or classrooms. It lies in the dust of the construction site, the heft of the trowel, the brick’s grain, and the mortar’s viscosity.

What are Internship Opportunities for a Brickmason?

Internship opportunities for aspiring brickmasons and blockmasons are varied and plentiful, provided predominantly by construction companies, bricklaying firms, and apprenticeship programs. These internships serve as a powerful conduit between academic knowledge and the practical realities of the masonry brickmasonry trade. They furnish invaluable real-world experience and present opportunities to work alongside seasoned professionals, fostering a deeper understanding of the profession’s nuances.

The hands-on experiences gained during these internships include but are not limited to mixing mortar to the appropriate consistency, laying bricks and blocks in precise alignments, and ensuring the durability and stability of the structures created. Through these tasks, interns learn the delicate balance between precision, efficiency, and safety, pivotal to success in this line of work.

An apprenticeship in masonry is a comprehensive program that intertwines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Under the watchful eyes of seasoned professionals, you, as an apprentice, gain invaluable insights into the craft. This hands-on training enables you to understand the intricacies of the profession, from handling tools and materials to reading blueprints and adhering to safety protocols.

What Skills Will I Learn as a Brickmason or Blockmason?

As for the skills you would cultivate as a brickmason or blockmason, they span across both technical and interpersonal domains. On the technical front, you will become proficient in interpreting blueprints, which guide a project’s overall design and specifications. You will also gain expertise in laying out patterns, which requires creativity and precision. Cutting bricks to specific sizes and shapes, and mixing mortar, an essential binding material, are additional core skills you will acquire.

Project management is another critical skill set, particularly for those who aspire to supervise construction sites. This encompasses the planning, coordination, and execution of tasks within designated time frames while ensuring that safety and quality standards are upheld.

On the interpersonal front, communication and teamwork are essential. Brickmasons and blockmasons often work in larger construction teams and must effectively liaise with other tradespeople, supervisors, and clients. Problem-solving is another important soft skill. Construction projects can present various unforeseen challenges, and the ability to devise effective solutions under pressure is highly valuable.

What is the Work-Life Balance of a Brickmason or Blockmason?

Balancing work and life can be challenging for a brickmason or blockmason, but it has perks. They usually work full-time and face intense physical demands and long hours, especially during the peak construction season. But there’s a particular kind of gratification in creating something that will stand tall and proud for years to come, and that’s a feeling not everyone gets to experience in their daily jobs. So their labor’s end product is solid, tangible, and lasting. And, in a way, that’s pretty cool, don’t you think?

What’s the Career Outlook for Brickmason and Blockmason?

Looking into the future, the job prospects for brickmasons and blockmasons are pretty positive too. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a growth rate of around 3% from 2019 to 2029. But that’s not the whole story! With all the expected renovation, maintenance, and repair work in the coming years, we should see plenty more job opportunities popping up. So if you’re considering a career in this field, it seems like a good time to jump in!

What are the Job Opportunities of a Brickmason and Blockmason?

Brickmasons and blockmasons are a key part of many industries. From residential to commercial construction, and even into historical restoration and artisanal work, their skillset is needed. Here are some common job opportunities for brickmasons and blockmasons:

  • Construction companies: Many brickmasons and blockmasons work for construction companies that specialize in masonry work. They may be involved in projects such as residential homes, commercial buildings, schools, hospitals, and other construction projects that require brick or block work.
  • Masonry contractors: Brickmasons and blockmasons can also find employment with masonry contractors who focus specifically on masonry services. These contractors may handle a wide range of projects, including new construction, renovations, restoration work, and landscaping projects that involve masonry elements.
  • Self-employment: Some experienced brickmasons and blockmasons choose to work as independent contractors and establish their own masonry businesses. They may take on various projects on a contract basis, working directly with clients or subcontracting with construction companies or general contractors.
  • Restoration and preservation: Historic restoration projects often require the skills of experienced brickmasons and blockmasons. These projects involve repairing or recreating masonry elements in historic buildings or landmarks. Opportunities in this niche field can be found with specialized restoration companies or contractors.
  • Masonry suppliers and manufacturers: Brickmasons and blockmasons can also find employment opportunities with masonry suppliers or manufacturers. These roles may involve providing technical support, training, or sales assistance for masonry products and materials.
  • Education and training: Some experienced brickmasons and blockmasons may transition into teaching or training roles. They can share their knowledge and expertise by working as instructors in vocational schools, technical colleges, or apprenticeship programs.
  • Inspection and quality control: Brickmasons and blockmasons with extensive experience and knowledge of masonry construction may pursue careers in inspection and quality control. They can work for government agencies, building departments, or private organizations to ensure compliance with building codes and quality standards.

Should I Become a Brickmason or Blockmason?

As discussed in the previous sections, becoming a brickmason or blockmason involves a fascinating blend of technical knowledge, hands-on skills, and a keen understanding of the industry. In addition, it’s a profession that requires a unique combination of physical strength, artistic creativity, and precise calculations.

Reflect on your interests and skills. Are you drawn to hands-on work that engages your body and mind? Do you enjoy working outdoors and handling physical tasks? Do you have an eye for precision and detail? Do you feel satisfaction in creating tangible, durable structures? If so, these are all signs that you might find fulfillment in a career as a brickmason or blockmason.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Brickmason and a Blockmason?

While both professionals work in masonry, the primary difference lies in the materials they work with. Brickmasons specialize in using bricks, while blockmasons typically work with larger, heavier concrete blocks.


Is Masonry a good career?

Masonry can be a rewarding career, offering good income potential and the satisfaction of creating tangible, lasting structures. However, like any profession, it has its challenges, including physical demands and potential injury risks.

How do you become a Mason?

Most masons start their journey with a high school diploma, followed by an apprenticeship which involves on-the-job training and classroom instruction.


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Stephen Carrozzino

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