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Brickmason Career Guide

A career as a brickmason is one that is accessible to most people and offers many career development opportunities. To become a brickmason you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. To have the best opportunities at getting an apprenticeship, it is advisable to have some work experience in the construction industry. Brickmasons learn all their skills through apprenticeship programs. They continue to develop their skills throughout their career, often progressing into more senior positions.

The important thing is to take the bricklayer and make him understand that he’s building a home, not just laying bricks.

Herb Kelleher

Brickmason Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Overview

What a brickmason actually does

A brickmason uses bricks, concrete blocks, structural tiles, and natural and man-made stones to build buildings, fences, walls, patios, walkways and other structures. Brickmasons may also repair and restore older brick structures. Typically, brickmasons will specialize in either doing residential projects or large-scale projects. However, despite their specialization, the typical duties and responsibilities of a brickmason include:

  • Laying out foundations and patterns using measuring tools
  • Mixing sand, cement, lime, and water to form mortar or refractory mixture. Then, using the motar on slabs and surfaces to fuse bricks, tiles and/or blocks together
  • Use hammer, powersaw or edge of trowels to break or cut blocks of stone to desired sizes
  • Conducting inspection of brick structures to determine the need for repair
  • Removing defective or damaged bricks on old walls and replacing with new and solid ones
  • Carrying out estimates to determine the cost and quantity of materials required for a masonry project
  • Finishing, cleaning and polishing the surfaces of finished brickwork

Why they are needed

Brickmasons are crucial members of the workforce because they have the unique skills that aid the growth and development of society by playing a vital role in building the homes we live in. They are also responsible for restoring old buildings, that we can then live, work or play in. The work of brickmasons allows us to deal with and support the growing population by providing safe and attractive environments.

Pros and cons of a career as a brickmason

Pros:

  • There are lots of opportunities within the construction industry. For example, brickmasons can become self-employed, work in different sized organizations or progress to more senior and specialist roles with more responsibilities
  • There is often high job satisfaction for brickmasons, as they work hard to produce high quality and aesthetically pleasing buildings
  • It is an easy career to access, with many brickmasons only needing a high school diploma to get a job. Once hired, brickmasons get all of the training they need on the job

Cons:

  • Working as a brickmason often means working in all kinds of weather conditions, such as the freezing cold, heavy rain, extreme heat or high winds
  • There are many safety hazards as brickmasons work with heavy brick/stone, power tools and at heights, which can be dangerous and lead to injury
  • Brickmasons have a lot of responsibility as they must ensure that structures are built correctly to prevent serious injury or damages

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of masonry workers is projected to decline 3 percent from 2019 to 2029. This is expected because, although masonry is still a popular interior and exterior material, changes in products and installation practices are expected to decrease the need for masons. For example, it is becoming more popular to use thin bricks, which allows building to have the look of a brick wall but at a lower cost. Building this requires less masonry workers, reducing the number of jobs available.

Additionally, the increased use of prefabricated panels will reduce the demand for most masonry workers. These panels are created offsite by either contractors or manufacturers in climate-protected environments, but fewer masons are needed to install the panels at the construction site.

As with many other construction workers, employment of masons is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. On the one hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, during peak periods of building activity some areas may require additional number of these workers.

Career path

The career path to become a brickmason begins with a high school diploma or equivalent. Many technical schools offer programs in masonry.

After achieving the relevant high school education, masons typically learn the trade through apprenticeships and on the job, working under the supervision of experienced masons. During apprenticeship programs, aspiring brickmasons will learn construction basics, such as blueprint reading; mathematics for measurement; building code requirements; and safety and first-aid practices. After completing an apprenticeship program, masons are considered journey workers and are able to do tasks on their own. Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs and the Home Builders Institute and the International Masonry Institute offer pre-apprenticeship training programs for eight construction trades, including masonry.

Overall, job prospects will be better for workers with extensive construction experience. Some workers start out as construction workers before starting their training become a brickmason.

Example Job Titles for Brickmason

Below is a list of common job titles in the Brickmason field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for masonry workers was $46,500 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $30,250, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,250. Brickmasons specifically earned a median annual salary of $53,100.

The top paying industries were masonry contractors, where the median annual wage was $51,100. Followed by construction of buildings ($49,840), poured concrete foundation and structure contractors ($44,610) and heavy and civil engineering construction ($44,590).

Autonomy and Flexibility

The level of flexibility in masonry varies depending on the level of experience a brickmason has. For instance, experienced brickmasons will obviously have more task flexibility than apprentices. Similarly, a self-employed/contractor brickmason is likely to have more flexibility than those who work for a large company. Brickmasons who are independent contractors/self-employed will have more flexibility and autonomy. However, the downside to this is that they will be responsible for forming and managing relationships with builders and suppliers to ensure materials are available at affordable prices and that ongoing work is available.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a brickmason, based on average annual salary and job availability, are:

  1. New York, where the average annual salary is $57,474
  2. Pennsylvania, where the average annual salary is $50,943
  3. Minnesota, where the average annual salary is $49,575
  4. New Jersey, where the average annual salary is $51,786
  5. Michigan, where the average annual salary is $49,309

The worst states, according to Zippia, are Kanas, Iowa, Mississippi, Hawaii and Illinois.

Work environment

Most brickmasons will work full time, which may include evenings and weekends, to meet each clients’ deadline. Brick masonry work is incredibly strenuous. Masons often lift heavy materials and stand, kneel, and bend for long periods. The work may be either indoors or outdoors in areas that are dusty, dirty, or muddy. Extreme weather conditions may impact building construction timelines, which in turn may affect brickmasons hours. 

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Brickmason careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Brickmason career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Brickmason.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DiSC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

  • None

Personality types

There has been no scientific exploration into exactly what personality types will make a successful brickmason. However, the Myers Briggs personality type of ISTP, or otherwise known as ‘the craftsperson’, is likely to be a successful brickmason. This is because these types are able to tackle problems in their immediate environment, with an innate mechanical ability and they enjoy building and fixing objects. ISTPs are typically very attentive to detail, independent, adaptable and self-directed, which are key skills for brickmason.

Accomplishment and mastery

As brickmasons  enter the profession without much education, learn a lot of skills in a short space time and get to use these skills reasonably quickly, there is a high sense of accomplishment and mastery. Furthermore, brickmasons can progress easily into supervisor, superintendent, or other construction management positions. Experienced masonry workers may choose to become independent contractors. Masonry workers in a union may also find opportunities for advancement within their union. This quick career progression offers a high sense of accomplishment and master.

Meaning and contribution

As brickmasons have a unique set of skills the help to progress society and build safe buildings, there is a lot of meaning and contribution in their work. On top of this, brickmasons will also do work for residential homes. This work will have a huge impact on the lives of their clients, which is very meaningful.

Life fit

Brickmasons tend to work full time. Due to weather conditions, such as extreme heat, brickmasons tend to start work earlier than other professions. This means that masonry can offer a good life fit, as masons will typically have evenings free to spend time with family or do leisure activities.

Who will thrive in this career?

In order to thrive as a brickmason, it is essential that you are physically fit and have the stamina to lift heavy building material and to keep up with the general demands of the job. On top of this, those who are good at mathematics and have the ability to pay excellent attention to detail will thrive, as a brickmason needs to follow specific instructions and blueprints. Finally, excellent communication skills will help brickmasons thrive as they can clearly communicate with their clients and other construction workers about the progress and requirement of their projects.

Who will struggle in this career?

You are likely to struggle with working as a brickmason if you don’t enjoy working outside, especially in extreme and unpredictable weather conditions. Similarly, if you do not like to pay attention to detail or have patience, then as a job a brickmason requires the work to be finished to the highest of standards, you might struggle in this career. Finally, as brickmasons need to lift heavy materials, if you are not physically fit you may struggle to keep up with the demands of the job.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Aspiring brickmasons will learn a lot of skills through their apprenticeships. However, it is also important to have skills such as:

  • Physical fitness and stamina, as brickmasons will have to carefully move large pieces of material and equipment
  • Mathematical skills, because brickmasons need to do calculate the height and width of spaces to ensure they get the right amount of brick/stone and to ensure their design works
  • Communication skills are key as brickmasons need to be able to communicate with clients and other construction workers
  • Dexterity, as brickmasons must be able to place bricks and other materials with precision
  • Detail orientation, as brickmasons must be very precise in their work and ensure they finish their work to the highest of standards
  • Critical thinking, as brickmasons must be able to problem-solve when issues arise in a project. Such issues may include a project running on for longer than expected or the materials ordered being the wrong size

Education

Brickmasons need a high school diploma or equivalent in order to apply for apprenticeship programs. Many technical schools offer programs in masonry. Aspiring masons then typically learn the trade through apprenticeships and on the job, working under the supervision of experienced masons.

During apprenticeship programs, aspiring brickmasons will learn construction basics, such as blueprint reading; mathematics for measurement; building code requirements; and safety and first-aid practices. After completing an apprenticeship program, masons are considered journey workers and are able to do tasks on their own. Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs and the Home Builders Institute and the International Masonry Institute offer pre-apprenticeship training programs for eight construction trades, including masonry.

Certifications

There are no specific certification or licensing requirements for brickmasons in the United States.

How to Become

Summary

A career as a brickmason is one that is fairly accessible to most people and offers many opportunities. For example, brickmasons can progress to supervisory or management roles or to becoming independent contractors.

Immediate action

If becoming a brickmason appeals to you, then we recommend starting to gather some work experience in the construction industry. It will also be beneficial to start researching apprenticeship schemes in your area.

Education and learning

To become a brickmason, you will need a high school diploma or equivalent. After achieving this, brickmasons should complete apprenticeship programmes where they ‘shadow’ experienced brickmasons and learn the skills needed for the job.

Skill development

Brickmasons learn all their skills through apprenticeship programs. They continue to develop their skills throughout their career, often progressing into more senior positions.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Brickmason careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

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