Career Guides

Career Guide: How to become a Bricklayer


Welcome to the complete career guide for those interested in becoming a bricklayer. This guide provides a thorough overview of the bricklaying profession, ideal for individuals eager to explore a career in this skilled trade. Bricklaying is not only a fundamental part of the construction industry but also a craft that has shaped the infrastructure of our society through various forms of architecture.

Whether you're contemplating a career change, have a keen interest in construction, or you're starting your career path, this guide will equip you with key insights into what it means to be a bricklayer. From the basic definitions, through the training requirements, to job prospects, and frequently asked questions, we cover it all to help you make an informed decision about your future career.

Read on to understand the roles and responsibilities of a bricklayer, the length and nature of training you would require, the qualifications you will need to gather, the socioc-economic aspects of the job, and where to find employment opportunities. This guide is your first step towards building a successful career in bricklaying.

What Is a Bricklayer?

A bricklayer, also commonly referred to as a brick mason, is a skilled tradesperson specializing in building and repairing structures from various types of materials including bricks, blocks, and stone. The craft of a bricklayer is one of the oldest and most essential in the construction and building industry, contributing to the creation of durable and aesthetically pleasing structures.

The job involves more than just laying bricks; it encompasses the careful planning and execution of constructing walls, chimneys, fireplaces, and other structures according to specific architectural specifications. Each project requires a detailed understanding of bonding patterns, mortar composition, and the physical and aesthetic properties of the construction materials used.

Moreover, bricklaying can also involve restoration work, where bricklayers use their skills to restore historical buildings and monuments, making the job not only about construction but also about preserving history and culture. Whether building new dynamic structures or restoring time-worn buildings, bricklayers play a pivotal role in shaping the environments in which we live, work, and play.

Key Responsibilities of a Bricklayer

The work of a bricklayer is crucial in the construction industry, as it directly impacts the durability and aesthetic quality of buildings and structures. Here’s a detailed look at the primary responsibilities that these skilled professionals handle on a daily basis:

  • Reading and Interpreting Blueprints: One of the first responsibilities of a bricklayer is to understand architectural plans and blueprints. They must be able to interpret these documents to ensure that the structure is built according to specified dimensions and design plans.
  • Preparing Foundations: Before laying any bricks or blocks, bricklayers must prepare the foundation. This involves measuring, mixing, and pouring concrete or mortar, ensuring a solid base for construction.
  • Laying Bricks and Blocks: The primary task of a bricklayer involves the precise laying of bricks, blocks, and stones. This process requires skill to ensure each layer is level and consistent, and the alignment meets the design specifications.
  • Applying Mortar: Bricklayers use mortar to bond the bricks together. They need to expertly apply the correct amount, maintaining uniformity to ensure structural strength and stability.
  • Ensuring Structural Integrity: Regular checks are necessary during the bricklaying process to ensure that the structure is sound and stable. This includes using levels, rules, plumb bobs, and framing squares.
  • Building Structures: Beyond simple walls, bricklayers may build various structures such as chimneys, archways, and ornamental features. Each of these requires precise techniques and creative skills.
  • Refinishing and Restoring Existing Brickwork: Bricklayers are not only involved in new constructions but also in the repair and restoration of existing structures. This could involve replacing crumbling mortar, fixing water damage, or restoring historical structures.
  • Safety Practices: Ensuring the use of safety equipment and procedures is crucial. Bricklayers must comply with legal and organizational safety standards to minimize the risk of injury at the work site.
  • Cleaning and Maintaining Tools: Post-job cleanup and tool maintenance are also part of a bricklayer's responsibilities. Proper care of tools ensures they remain in good working condition, thereby extending their usability and ensuring safety.

This overview covers the predominant tasks bricklayers handle, which may vary somewhat with specialty or specific job requirements. Mastery in these areas is crucial for career success and growing one’s reputation in this skilled trade.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Bricklayer?

Becoming a proficient bricklayer involves a combination of formal education, hands-on training, and on-the-job experience. The journey to becoming a skilled bricklayer can vary depending on several factors such as the availability of training opportunities and individual learning pace. Below, we explore the typical timeline and pathways to enter this field.

Apprenticeship Programs

The most common path to becoming a bricklayer is through an apprenticeship program. These programs typically last about 3 to 4 years. Apprenticeships are comprehensive, as they combine classroom instruction with practical on-the-job training. A standard program requires:

  • 144 hours of technical training each year
  • 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training each year

During this time, apprentices learn various aspects of the trade including reading blueprints, measuring and cutting materials, mixing mortar, and mastering laying techniques under the guidance of experienced professionals.

Educational Programs

Some technical schools and community colleges offer courses or diplomas in masonry that can be completed in less than a year. These programs cover similar topics as apprenticeships but are often more focused on classroom learning. However, to gain the necessary hands-on skills, additional practical experience is usually required after completion.

On-the-Job Training

For those who prefer a more informal route, starting as a laborer or a mason's helper can also lead to becoming a bricklayer. This pathway may take longer, as the progression from helper to skilled bricklayer depends on the ability to learn skills directly from professionals on the job. This route may take anywhere from 3 to 6 years, depending on the complexity of skills learned and opportunities to practice.

Continuing Education and Certification

After initial training, bricklayers can also pursue specialized certifications, which may require additional courses and exams. These certifications not only enhance skills but also increase job prospects and potential earnings.

In conclusion, the time it takes to become a fully qualified bricklayer can vary, but typically one can expect to invest between 3 to 4 years in learning the craft through apprenticeship or other educational paths. Continual learning and skill upgrading remain a constant part of a bricklayer’s career progression.

What are the Qualifications Required to Become a Bricklayer?

Becoming a bricklayer requires a combination of formal training, certifications, and sometimes, an apprenticeship. The qualifications can vary by country and region, but generally follow similar foundational paths. Below, we outline the most common avenues one can take to enter the field of bricklaying.

Educational Requirements

While a high school diploma or equivalent is often sufficient to start, some technical schools and community colleges offer courses specific to bricklaying and masonry. These courses can provide valuable hands-on experience and theoretical knowledge that will be beneficial in the field. Key subjects might include mathematics for laying out work accurately and classes on the properties of different construction materials.

Apprenticeship Programs

An apprenticeship is one of the most traditional and effective ways to become a skilled bricklayer. These programs typically last 3-4 years and combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Apprentices learn practical bricklaying skills under the supervision of experienced masons while also studying masonry theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, building code requirements, and safety practices.

  • Eligibility: To enroll in an apprenticeship, one generally needs to be 18 years or older, have a high school diploma or equivalent, and pass an aptitude test.
  • Certification: After completing an apprentice program, bricklayers may need to become certified. This varies depending on the location but generally involves passing an exam that tests both theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

Professional Certifications and Licenses

In many regions, bricklayers are required to hold a specific license or certification. This typically involves passing an examination that covers various aspects of masonry, including safety protocols, construction techniques, and sometimes, a practical demonstration of skills. Continuing education might also be required to keep a license current, ensuring that bricklayers are up-to-date with the latest building codes and technologies.

Additional Training and Skills Development

Beyond initial qualifications, professional development courses and specializations can enhance a bricklayer's skills. For example, learning advanced masonry techniques, studying historic restoration methods, or gaining expertise in specialized tools can open up new opportunities and potentially lead to higher pay or supervisory roles.

The journey to becoming a bricklayer might start with basic qualifications, but it extends into lifelong learning and skill advancement, mirroring the evolving nature of the construction industry itself.

What are the Skills and Knowledge Required to Become a Bricklayer?

Becoming a successful bricklayer requires a blend of practical skills, technical knowledge, and personal attributes. Here, we outline the essential competencies needed in this field:

Practical and Technical Skills

  • Manual Dexterity: Bricklaying is a hands-on job requiring precise hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
  • Physical Stamina and Strength: Physical endurance is crucial as the job involves kneeling, lifting, and working in a variety of weather conditions.
  • Building and Construction Knowledge: Understanding construction methods, building codes, and safety regulations is vital.
  • Measurement and Calculation: Skill in measuring and calculating dimensions and materials ensures structures are built to specifications.
  • Tool Proficiency: Proficiency with tools like trowels, levels, and power saws is essential for cutting and setting bricks and blocks.

Knowledge Areas

  • Materials Knowledge: Knowing different types of bricks, mortars, and other masonry materials helps in choosing the right product for each project.
  • Masonry Techniques: Familiarity with various techniques such as pointing, jointing, and bonding patterns is important for both aesthetics and structural integrity.
  • Safety Protocols: A thorough understanding of safety guidelines to prevent job-site injuries is critical.

Soft Skills

  • Attention to Detail: Precision is crucial in masonry to ensure alignments and patterns are correct and visually pleasing.
  • Problem-Solving Abilities: The ability to swiftly identify and rectify issues that arise during construction.
  • Communication: Effective communication with contractors, architects, and team members helps ensure that projects are completed according to plan.
  • Time Management: Managing time efficiently to meet deadlines while maintaining high standards of work.

Developing these skills can significantly enhance a bricklayer's efficacy and career prospects. Whether acquired through formal training or on-the-job experience, mastering this blend of skills is pivotal for anyone aspiring to excel in bricklaying.

How Much Does a Bricklayer Make?

The earning potential for a bricklayer can vary significantly depending on several factors such as geographic location, experience, the complexity of the tasks, and the sector in which they are employed. Generally, wages for bricklayers are competitive, reflecting the skill and physical demands of the job.

Starting Salary: Entry-level bricklayers typically start with an hourly rate that can range from $15 to $20. This starting wage can increase rapidly as bricklayers gain experience and demonstrate proficiency in their craft.

Mid-Level and Experienced Bricklayers: As bricklayers advance in their careers, their earning potential increases. A mid-level bricklayer can earn between $25 and $35 per hour, whereas highly-skilled and experienced bricklayers, especially those who manage large projects or work in higher-cost-of-living areas, can command hourly rates upwards of $40.

Additional Income Factors: Many bricklayers have opportunities to boost their income through overtime pay, particularly during peak construction periods. Others might receive additional compensation through benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacations, which can add substantial value to their overall compensation package.

Annual Salaries: Considering a full-time schedule, the annual income for bricklayers can generally range from $31,200 (based on a 40-hour working week at $15 per hour) to over $83,200 (based on $40 per hour). These figures can escalate with overtime hours and higher pay rates accorded by union contracts or premium projects.

It’s important to note that in unionized environments, bricklayers might have different pay scales and job security benefits, potentially leading to higher income and better job stability. Also, self-employed bricklayers, or those who run their own contracting businesses, have the potential to earn more, depending on their ability to secure projects and manage expenses effectively.

In summary, while the earning potential for a bricklayer varies, this career path offers a lucrative income possibility, especially for those who develop a high skill level and can work in diverse construction settings.

Career Outlook for Bricklayers

The future looks promising for those entering the bricklaying industry. As construction projects continue to rise globally, the demand for skilled bricklayers remains strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts growth in the masonry field, including bricklaying, about 3% from 2019 to 2029. This rate is as fast as the average for all occupations, reflecting ongoing housing projects and increased investment in infrastructure.

In addition to new construction projects, there is a significant amount of work available in restoration and repair. Older buildings and structures that need maintenance or updates provide a steady flow of opportunities for skilled bricklayers. Urban development and the revitalization of historical districts in cities also drive demand for masonry work, encouraging more specialized skills in brick restoration techniques.

Expanding Opportunities in Green Building

With a growing emphasis on sustainable construction practices, bricklayers with knowledge in green building techniques may find additional opportunities. The use of environmentally-sustainable materials and energy-efficient strategies is becoming more popular, influencing the masonry industry. Bricklayers who adapt to these new methods could have a competitive edge, accessing a broader range of projects and potential clients.

Diversification and Relocation

Geographical location plays a significant role in job prospects for bricklayers. Regions with more active construction sectors generally offer more employment opportunities. For instance, areas experiencing a boom in housing, commercial, or infrastructural construction can provide more stable employment for bricklaying professionals. Furthermore, those willing to relocate or travel for work may find it easier to secure continuous employment.

Bricklayers willing to diversify their skills beyond residential buildings to commercial and industrial projects may also expand their job opportunities. Mastery in varied masonry types can open doors to projects in public works, such as schools, hospitals, and municipal buildings.

Income Stability and Advancement

The financial aspects of a career in bricklaying can also be positive for those committed to their craft. As experience and expertise grow, particularly for those who specialize or pursue certification in advanced bricklaying techniques, so does the potential for higher income and job security. Moreover, experienced bricklayers often have the opportunity to advance into supervisory roles or even start their own business, broadening their career prospects significantly.

To sum up, the career outlook for bricklayers is marked by both traditional opportunities driven by residential and commercial construction and emerging trends in eco-friendly building practices. With the right skills and a willingness to adapt, bricklayers can find robust job security and dynamic career paths in this time-honored profession.

Finding Jobs as a Bricklayer

Finding a job as a bricklayer can be a straightforward process if you know where to look and how to present your skills. Whether you are just entering the field or looking to advance in your career, the construction industry offers numerous opportunities. Here, we explore some effective strategies to help you secure a position as a bricklayer.

Utilize Industry Networks

Networking within the construction industry is crucial. Connecting with other professionals can lead to job recommendations and insider information about upcoming projects. Consider joining local trade associations, attending industry meetups, and participating in online forums dedicated to construction and masonry.

Online Job Portals

Many companies post their job openings on online job boards. Websites like Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn are great places to start. Moreover, specialized job portals for construction and trades can also provide more targeted job listings. Regularly checking these sites and setting up job alerts can keep you informed about new opportunities.

  • Apply Directly to Construction Companies: Bypass middlemen by applying directly through construction companies' websites. Larger companies often have careers pages where you can find openings and submit your resume.
  • Engage with Local Contractors: Local building contractors frequently need skilled bricklayers. A direct approach, either through a call or visiting their office, can sometimes yield immediate job opportunities or freelance projects.


If you are starting your career, an apprenticeship can be an excellent way to earn while you learn. Apprenticeships provide on-the-job training and are often seen as a stepping stone to full-time employment. Check with local trade schools, community colleges, or the National Association of Home Builders for apprenticeship listings.

Develop a Compelling Resume

Your resume should highlight your relevant experience and skills in masonry. Include specific projects you've worked on, particularly those where you can quantify your contributions (e.g., “Worked on a team that laid over 1,000 bricks per day”). Also, listing any certifications or completed apprenticeships can enhance your profile.

Prepare for Interviews

Be ready to discuss your bricklaying experience and approach to work during interviews. Practical demonstrations may also be part of the interview process, so be prepared to showcase your skills in a real-world setting. Knowledge of newer technologies and methods in bricklaying will set you apart from other candidates.

Stay Updated and Upskill

Continuously improving your skills and staying up-to-date with new techniques and materials in bricklaying can help increase your employability. Consider taking additional courses or certifications in areas like tiling, scaffolding, and safety protocols to broaden your expertise and appeal to potential employers.

Finding a job as a bricklayer demands a combination of technical skills, proactive job searching, and network building. By employing these strategies, you can significantly enhance your chances of securing rewarding work in the field of bricklaying.


Embarking on a career as a bricklayer can provide not just a stable and rewarding job, but an opportunity to be part of shaping the physical world. Whether it’s constructing new buildings, restoring historical structures, or participating in specialized industrial projects, bricklayers play a pivotal role in the industry. The durability of bricklaying as a profession is underpinned by ongoing demand in both residential and commercial construction sectors.

Becoming a bricklayer combines the satisfaction of practical, hands-on work with the security of a skilled trade. It demands a blend of physical endurance, attention to detail, and creativity. Though the path to becoming a fully skilled bricklayer requires commitment to learning and apprenticeship, it is a path that leads to a profession of mastery and pride. Moreover, as urban landscapes continue to evolve and old buildings require careful preservation, the skills of a bricklayer remain in high demand.

For those considering this trade, it's important to acknowledge the continuous learning involved—from the foundational skills acquired through an apprenticeship to potential further education in specialized masonry techniques. Furthermore, the financial aspect of starting as an apprentice and growing into potentially lucrative specialized roles should be considered an investment in a lifelong career.

Therefore, if you are seeking a career that offers robust opportunities, a clear path for progression, and the chance to leave a tangible legacy, then bricklaying might just be the building block to your future. Remember, every great building once started with the careful placement of a single brick.

  • Practical and rewarding: Bricklaying is not just building walls, it's crafting the skeletons of future homes and businesses.
  • Stability and growth: The construction sector often reflects economic trends, and skilled trades like bricklaying are essential to support growth.
  • Creativity and mastery: The field offers extensive opportunities for those who value both creativity and precision.


What is the typical career path for a bricklayer?

Typically, a bricklayer starts as an apprentice, learning the skills and techniques required for bricklaying under the guidance of experienced professionals. After completing an apprenticeship, individuals may become journeymen, where they can work independently. With further experience and possibly additional certifications, one can become a master bricklayer or move into supervisory or managerial positions.

Do bricklayers need a certification?

While not always mandatory, obtaining certification can enhance a bricklayer’s credentials and may be required by some employers. Certifications such as those offered by the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) can validate a bricklayer's competency and expertise in the field.

Are there any physical requirements for bricklayers?

Yes, bricklaying is a physically demanding job that often requires lifting heavy materials, extensive bending, kneeling, and standing for long periods. Good physical fitness and stamina are crucial for a bricklayer.

What are the work environments like for bricklayers?

Bricklayers typically work outdoors, and the work environment can be challenging due to weather conditions. Work sites can be residential, commercial, or industrial. Safety is a top priority, so adherence to safety regulations and wearing proper safety gear is essential.

Can bricklayers advance their careers?

Yes, career advancement opportunities for bricklayers include roles such as foreman, supervisor, project manager, or business owner. Additional experience and education in areas like construction management can also open up further opportunities.

Is seasonal employment common in bricklaying?

Yes, bricklaying work can be seasonal in regions where cold winter weather inhibits construction activities. However, in milder climates, bricklayers may be able to work year-round.

What kind of tools do bricklayers use?

Bricklayers use a variety of tools, including trowels, levels, hammers, chisels, and masonry saws. Maintaining these tools and knowing how to use them efficiently is part of the craft.

How can someone stay updated on the best practices in bricklaying?

Staying informed about industry trends and new techniques is important for career growth. Engaging with professional organizations, attending workshops, and participating in training sessions are excellent ways to stay updated.

What are common challenges faced by bricklayers?

Common challenges include physical strain, managing construction deadlines, and working in varying and sometimes harsh weather conditions. Effective planning and adherence to safety practices can help mitigate these challenges.

Can bricklayers work internationally?

Yes, bricklayers can work internationally, especially in countries with booming construction industries. However, they may need to meet specific certification requirements or learn new building techniques and regulations relevant to the specific country.

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