If you enjoy working with your hands, have a knack for precision, and appreciate the beauty of well-constructed buildings, a career in brickmasonry may be the perfect fit for you. The term ‘brickmason’ hails from the craft of masonry, which involves building structures from individual units, typically bound together by mortar. As the name suggests, brickmasons specialize in using bricks to create a wide variety of structures.
A recent study shows that there are over 42,656 brick masons currently employed in the United States, indicating a steady demand for this profession. Despite the physical demands of the job, it continues to attract individuals who find satisfaction in creating durable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing structures.
What Is a Brickmason?
A brickmason is a skilled craftsman who works with bricks, stones, and concrete blocks to construct or repair walls, walkways, and other structures. Their work requires a keen eye for detail, strong physical stamina, and exceptional hand-eye coordination.
Brickmasons need to interpret blueprints and calculate the number of bricks required for a project accurately. They also cut bricks to the correct size, mix and apply mortar, lay bricks in an arranged pattern, and ensure that the structure is level. Once the construction is complete, they clean and polish the surfaces for a finished look.
How to Become a Brickmason
Becoming a brickmason usually involves a combination of education, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training. Here are some of the skills you would need:
Education and Training
The first step to becoming a brickmason typically involves obtaining at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Many aspiring brickmasons then enroll in vocational schools or community colleges that offer courses in masonry. These programs provide foundational knowledge about the trade and often include hands-on training.
After completing formal education, the next step is usually an apprenticeship. This is a paid position that pairs novices with experienced brickmasons to learn the trade firsthand. Apprenticeships generally last between 3-4 years and involve both on-the-job training and classroom instruction.
In addition to these steps, many brickmasons continue to learn through on-the-job training even after their apprenticeship. The construction industry is ever-evolving, and continuous learning helps brickmasons stay up-to-date with the latest techniques and technologies.
Blueprint Reading: Brickmasons must be proficient in reading and interpreting blueprints. These technical drawings provide the layout and dimensions of the structure to be built. Understanding them is crucial for proper construction and ensuring the structure is built to specification.
Mathematical Skills: A strong grasp of arithmetic is required for several aspects of a brickmason’s job. They must calculate the number of bricks needed for a project, determine the appropriate size of each brick, and measure and lay out the area where the structure will be built.
Masonry Techniques: Knowledge of masonry techniques is critical for a brickmason’s work. This includes understanding how to mix mortar to the correct consistency, cutting bricks to the precise size, and laying bricks in an arranged pattern to create a sturdy and attractive structure.
Safety Protocols: Construction sites can be hazardous, so familiarity with safety protocols is vital. This includes knowing how to operate tools safely, wearing appropriate protective gear, and following guidelines to prevent accidents and injuries.
Physical Stamina and Strength: Brickmasonry is physically demanding. It requires lifting heavy materials, standing for extended periods, and performing repetitive tasks. Brickmasons must have the physical strength and stamina to handle these demands.
Attention to Detail: Precision is key in brickmasonry. Small errors can compromise the structural integrity and appearance of a building. Brickmasons must pay close attention to ensure each brick is placed correctly and the mortar is applied evenly.
Hand-Eye Coordination: Good hand-eye coordination is essential for brickmasons. They must skillfully handle tools and materials, align bricks accurately, and apply the right amount of mortar.
Problem-Solving Skills: Even with careful planning, issues can arise during construction. Brickmasons must be able to identify problems and devise effective solutions quickly.
Career Opportunities in Brickmasonry
A career in brickmasonry offers a variety of job roles, each with its own responsibilities and salary expectations. Here are some of the positions you can find in this field:
Brick Mason: A brick mason is primarily responsible for building and repairing walls, walkways, and other structures using bricks. According to Indeed, there are around 900 brick masonry jobs available.
Masonry Subcontractor: As a subcontractor, you’d be self-employed and typically work on projects under a general contractor. You would need a broad understanding of masonry work, including bricklaying.
Masonry Apprentice: An apprentice works under the supervision of an experienced mason to learn the trade. This is often a stepping stone to becoming a fully qualified brick mason.
Masonry Estimator: This role involves calculating the cost of masonry work for a project. It requires a deep understanding of masonry processes and materials.
Masonry Inspector: Inspectors ensure that masonry work complies with building codes and standards.
Commercial Masonry: This involves working on commercial projects, such as office buildings or shopping centers, which often have large-scale masonry needs.
Masonry Foreman: A foreman oversees a team of masons on a construction site, ensuring work is completed on time and to the required standards.
Masonry Instructor: Instructors teach the skills and knowledge needed for a career in masonry. This could be in a vocational school, community college, or apprenticeship program.
Territory Sales Manager (Masonry): This role involves selling masonry products within a designated territory. It requires knowledge of masonry products and strong sales skills.
How Much Does a Brickmason Make?
The salaries for roles within the brickmasonry field can significantly vary depending on various factors like location, experience, and the specific responsibilities of the role. However, as per the data provided by ZipRecruiter, masonry jobs generally pay between $22-$33 per hour. Furthermore, US News reported that the median salary for brickmasons and blockmasons was $59,340 in 2021.
These figures indicate that a career in brickmasonry can be financially rewarding, especially for those who gain significant experience or specialize in a particular area of the field.
A Comprehensive Look at Brickmason Jobs & Responsibilities
In conclusion, a career in brickmasonry can be an exciting and rewarding path for those who have an aptitude for practical, hands-on work. The field offers various job roles, each with its unique set of responsibilities and opportunities for growth. From the foundational role of a brick mason to specialized positions like masonry estimator or inspector, there are many ways to shape a career in this industry.
Moreover, the financial prospects in brickmasonry are promising, with competitive salaries that reflect the skill and expertise required in these roles. However, it’s important to remember that success in this field requires a combination of theoretical knowledge, practical skills, and continuous learning.
Whether you’re just starting your journey or looking to advance your career, we hope this guide has provided valuable insights into the world of brickmasonry. Remember, every great structure starts with a single brick, and as a brickmason, you have the power to create enduring structures that stand the test of time.