Career Guides

Career Guide: How to become a Mason


The field of masonry, known for its craftsmanship and importance in construction, represents a vital professional avenue that consistently offers numerous opportunities for career advancement. Whether creating the enduring brickwork of towering structures or the intricate stonework that beautifies landscapes, masons are integral to building environments worldwide. This comprehensive career guide aims to equip prospective and existing masons with the essential information they need for a successful career in this specialized trade.

This article will cover what it means to be a mason, the key responsibilities involved, the training and qualifications needed, and much more. Each section is designed to provide deep insights as well as practical advice. Understanding the career outlook and discovering pathways for finding jobs within the industry will also be explored, ensuring a well-rounded and informative read for anyone considering this sturdy and rewarding career path.

What Is a Mason?

A mason, also known as a bricklayer or stonemason, is a skilled tradesperson who specializes in building and repairing structures made from various materials including brick, stone, and concrete. Masonry, one of the oldest forms of construction, plays a critical role in the construction industry, requiring both technical prowess and creative artistry.

Masons work on a variety of projects, ranging from constructing residential homes to building impressive historical monuments and commercial buildings. The scope of their work includes laying brick walls, constructing stone exteriors, creating fireplaces, and setting stone or marble facades and walkways. They often work closely with other construction professionals to ensure that the aesthetics and structural integrity of a building or other structure are achieved.

Masonry is not just about laying blocks and mortar; it also involves detailed planning and design, understanding architectural drawings and blueprints, and an adherence to building codes and safety standards. Moreover, preservation and restoration of ancient stonework also fall within the mason’s purview, requiring specialized skills to maintain the integrity and heritage of historic constructions.

Given the physical nature of the job and the detail-oriented skills required, masonry is both a challenging and rewarding profession. Whether working on a new construction project or restoring historical structures, masons contribute significantly to the building and maintaining of functional, aesthetically pleasing, and sometimes historic structures around the world.

Key Responsibilities of a Mason

The role of a mason, fundamentally centered around construction, involves various critical tasks that contribute to the building and repairing of structures. A mason's job is as physically challenging as it is creative, requiring both precision and artistic skill. Understanding these responsibilities can provide insight into what employers and clients expect when hiring masons.

Reading and Interpreting Documents: A mason must be able to read and interpret blueprints, work orders, and instruction documents. These skills ensure that a construction project aligns with the specified architectural designs and client expectations.

  • Laying Building Materials: This includes bricks, blocks, and stones to construct or repair walls, foundations, partitions, arches, and other structures. Selecting the right material and effectively laying them is crucial.
  • Mixing Mortar: The preparation of the mix—which includes cement, sand, and water—is essential for the adherence of the masonry units.

Ensuring Structural Integrity: Masons must have a strong understanding of constructing structures that are not only visually appealing but also structurally sound. This might involve assessing the load-bearing walls or deciding on the adequacy of the materials used based on environmental factors and the project specifications.

  • Maintenance and Repair: Beyond building, masons are also responsible for the maintenance and repair of masonry works. This involves fixing cracks, replacing damaged bricks, and restoring old masonry work thereby extending its longevity.
  • Adhering to Safety Standards: Safety is paramount in masonry. Masons must operate tools and machinery safely, and adhere to all workplace safety standards to prevent accidents and ensure a safe working environment for themselves and their colleagues.

Each of these responsibilities requires a high degree of skill and dedication, making masonry a highly skilled trade. As the construction sector evolves, these tasks may expand with new technologies and methods, requiring continuous learning and adaptation.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Mason?

The journey to becoming a skilled mason does not follow a single uniform timeframe, as the length of time required can vary widely depending on the route chosen and the individual's dedication and access to training resources. However, a general outline can be provided to get an understanding of the typical timeframes involved.

Apprenticeships: Most masons start their career through an apprenticeship program, which is the most traditional and comprehensive way to learn all facets of the craft. These programs typically last for about 3-4 years. Apprentices spend time both in the classroom and on-the-job, receiving hands-on training from experienced masons. The classroom instruction covers subjects like masonry techniques, mathematics for layout work, job safety, and reading blueprints.

Vocational Schools: Some opt to attend a vocational or trade school. These programs can range from several months to two years. They focus more quickly on practical skills, often accelerating the learning process, but may not provide as broad an experience as a formal apprenticeship.

Learning on the Job: Another way to become a mason is to start as a laborer or helper on masonry projects, where one can gradually learn by observing and assisting experienced masons. This route may take longer, as formal training is sporadic and less structured, heavily depending on the complexity of projects and the willingness of other masons to teach skills.

Continued Education: Becoming a proficient mason doesn’t end with initial training. Masons often attend additional classes or workshops to learn about new materials and methods or to specialize in a particular type of work like restoration masonry or ornamental stonework.

In summary, the path to becoming a mason is flexible and can be tailored to an individual's circumstances and career goals. Whether through apprenticeship, academic paths, or on-the-job learning, gaining proficiency generally takes between 3 to 4 years. However, mastering more complex skills and techniques can extend this time, inviting a lifetime of learning and mastery in the craft.

What are the Qualifications Required to Become a Mason?

Becoming a mason requires a mix of formal education, on-the-job training, and certain certifications that confirm a candidate’s skills and knowledge in masonry. Here, we break down the typical qualifications you need to start a career as a professional mason.

Education Requirements

Most masons start with a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate. While in high school, prospective masons may benefit from taking courses in mathematics, mechanical drawing, and shop that can provide a basic foundation for understanding building plans and measurements.

Technical Training

After completing high school, aspiring masons typically undergo a more formal type of training. This can be achieved through vocational or technical schools that offer courses in masonry. These programs usually cover various masonry tools, techniques, and materials, and might include hands-on projects that mimic real-world tasks.

Apprenticeship Programs

  • An apprenticeship is one of the most important qualifications for a mason. These programs, which typically last 3 to 4 years, blend on-the-job training with in-class instruction. Apprentices learn essential masonry skills such as reading blueprints, using masonry tools and equipment, and different types of brick, block, and stonework.
  • Apprentices are also taught safety procedures specific to the masonry trade to prevent job-site injuries.
  • Upon completion of an apprenticeship, the mason is often considered a journeyman and can either work independently or continue learning additional skills.

Professional Certification

While not always mandatory, obtaining professional certification can be a significant advantage in the field. The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and other organizations offer certification programs that validate a mason’s skill and knowledge level. Gaining such certification might focus on specific skills like concrete masonry, stone masonry, or restoration masonry, among others.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is crucial for masons who wish to keep up with industry standards and advancements in masonry products and techniques. Many masons attend workshops, seminars, and additional training courses throughout their careers to enhance their abilities and remain competitive in the field.

In conclusion, becoming a mason involves acquiring a foundational education, undergoing significant hands-on training through apprenticeships, and potentially securing specialized certifications. These steps ensure that professional masons are well-prepared to meet the demands of the construction industry safely and efficiently.

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

Becoming a proficient mason demands a blend of skills and knowledge, both practical and theoretical. Here's a consolidated list of the essential skills and knowledge areas that are critical for anyone pursuing a career in masonry:

  • Technical Skills: Masonry requires detailed knowledge of mixing and applying mortar or other adhesives, understanding the properties of different building materials, and techniques for laying brick, stone, and concrete blocks accurately.
  • Physical Fitness and Stamina: Masonry is physically demanding work. A mason should be able to lift heavy materials, stand for long periods, and perform tasks that require bending, kneeling, and climbing.
  • Mathematical Skills: Basic math skills are crucial for measuring materials, calculating areas and volumes, and ensuring the alignment and level of structures. Precision in measurements is a core part of achieving aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound results.
  • Attention to Detail: Quality masonry depends heavily on attention to detail. Each measurement and cut must be exact to ensure that structures are stable and visually appealing.
  • Creative Thinking: Masons often need to solve unexpected problems and adapt to the varying needs of specific projects. This requires creative thinking and flexibility.
  • Communication Skills: As with many trades, effective communication is essential. Masons must collaborate with other construction professionals and communicate with clients to understand project requirements and expectations.
  • Safety Knowledge: Familiarity with construction safety standards and practices is vital to prevent injuries and accidents on the job site.
  • Technical Understanding: A fundamental knowledge of building codes, blueprints, and specifications ensures that projects are completed to standard and within legal frameworks.

While some of these skills can be developed on the job, others are typically covered in formal training programs. Apprenticeships, in particular, combine classroom instruction with on-the-job training, giving apprentices the technical grounding and practical experience they need. Additionally, continuous learning and skill improvement are essential, as construction techniques and materials evolve.

In summary, a mason needs a robust set of physical and mental skills, coupled with specialized knowledge and a commitment to continuous improvement and safety adherence. With these competencies, masons can expect to build a successful and rewarding career in the construction industry.

How Much Does a Mason Make?

Masonry is a skilled trade that can offer both stable employment and competitive wages. The earning potential of a mason varies based on several factors, including geographic location, experience, type of projects, and level of expertise.

Average Earnings

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of May 2021, the median annual wage for masons was approximately $48,040. This statistic implies that half of all masons earned more than this amount, while the other half earned less. Entry-level masons or those in the lower ten percent earned around $30,000, whereas the top ten percent of earners in this field made upwards of $80,000.

Factors Affecting Masons' Pay

  • Experience: Generally, masons gain skills and efficiency with experience, which can lead to higher pay.
  • Location: Wages can vary greatly depending on where a mason works. For instance, masons in urban areas or regions with a high cost of living typically earn more than those in rural areas.
  • Specialization: Masons specializing in certain types of work like historic restoration or custom stone craftsmanship might command higher fees.
  • Employment Type: Masons who are self-employed or work as contractors may have different income levels compared to those who work for a company, as they can set their own rates and choose their projects.

Earnings by Type of Masonry

Different types of masonry work can also influence earnings. Brick masons might have different pay scales compared to stone masons or concrete masons, depending on the complexity of the work and the demand for specific masonry skills in the market.

Opportunities for Advancement

With advancements in skills and experience, masons can move into higher-paying positions such as supervisors, project managers, or even business owners. Such positions further enhance their earning potential.

Benefits and Overtime

Aside from regular pay, full-time masons often receive benefits such as health insurance, paid vacation, and retirement plans. Furthermore, overtime pay is common in this profession, especially during peak construction periods, which can significantly boost a mason's annual earnings.

Conclusion on Earnings

Becoming a mason can lead to a rewarding career with a solid earning potential. While beginners might start at lower wages, growth in skills and experience can lead to substantial financial benefits. As in any profession, specialization and continuous learning are key to maximizing income.

Career Outlook for Masons

The construction industry continually evolves with new technologies and methodologies, which directly influences the demand for skilled tradespersons, including masons. Knowing the future scope and growth potential in the masonry profession is crucial for individuals considering this career path or those seeking to advance in their current roles. Here’s what current trends suggest about the career outlook for masons:

Growth Projections

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the employment of masons will grow at a rate of 3% from 2019 to 2029, which aligns closely with the average growth for all occupations. This growth is partially fueled by the need for the repair, renovation, and maintenance of existing structures, as well as new construction driven by population growth and urban development.

Impact of Technology

As with many other trades, technological advancements affect the masonry field. New materials and techniques such as prefabricated masonry and laser leveling systems enhance productivity but also require masons to learn new skills. Those who stay abreast of these changes and adapt accordingly may find better job prospects and career advancement opportunities.

Regional Opportunities

The demand for masons varies significantly across different regions. Areas with higher construction activity offer more job opportunities. For instance, states like California, Texas, and Florida frequently have a higher demand for masonry workers due to their ongoing development and construction projects.

Niche Specialization

Career prospects may also be brighter for masons who specialize in a niche area. For example, those skilled in restoring historical buildings or skilled in using exotic materials might find unique opportunities that standard masonry work doesn't offer. Specialization can lead to higher pay and distinguished job roles.

Freelance and Entrepreneurial Opportunities

  • Self-Employment: Many masons eventually go into business for themselves. Running your own masonry business can provide flexibility and potentially higher earnings, but it also involves managing business operations, including finance, marketing, and customer service.
  • Consultancy: Experienced masons with a deep knowledge of the field can also serve as consultants for construction projects or become educators in trade schools, sharing their expertise with the next generation.

In summary, although the growth rate for masonry jobs is moderate, opportunities for advancement and specialization, particularly in bustling markets and niche segments, paint a promising picture for the future. Aspiring masons should focus on skill advancement and adaptability to technological changes to tap into diverse job opportunities in this field.

Finding Jobs as a Mason

Finding employment as a mason involves a combination of networking, skill demonstration, and strategic job searching. Whether you are new to the field or an experienced professional, knowing where and how to look for jobs can substantially influence your career path.

Utilize Online Job Platforms

Online job portals such as Indeed, Monster, and LinkedIn are great places to start your job search. These platforms allow you to filter job listings specific to masonry and related fields. Make sure your profile is up-to-date and highlights your key masonry skills, certifications, and previous projects.


Networking remains a powerful tool in the job search process. Engaging with professionals in the industry can lead to job recommendations and opportunities that are not advertised publicly. Attend industry-specific events, seminars, and workshops to connect with potential employers and fellow masons. Joining professional organizations such as the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) can also provide valuable networking opportunities and resources.

Apprenticeships and Local Unions

Joining a masonry apprenticeship program or becoming a member of a local union can be beneficial. Many unions provide job placement services for their members. These organizations typically have connections with reputable employers who are looking for skilled masons.

Local Builders and Contractors

Directly reaching out to local building and contracting companies can uncover job opportunities that might not be advertised online. Visiting job sites and speaking with site managers or company owners can demonstrate initiative and might lead to immediate job offers based on current needs.

Freelance and Contract Work

If you prefer a flexible work schedule, consider taking freelance projects or contract work. Sites like Upwork and Freelancer allow masons to get in touch with clients needing short-term services, from small residential projects to larger, specialized tasks. This approach requires a proactive attitude and good self-marketing skills but can significantly expand your client base and professional experience.

Prepare a Strong Portfolio

When applying for masonry positions, having a well-prepared portfolio can make a significant difference. Include photos and descriptions of past projects, emphasizing those that highlight your unique skills and craftsmanship. This visual documentation of your work will help potential employers appreciate your expertise and style of work.

Lastly, always be ready with valid references and testimonials from previous employers or clients. These endorsements can enhance your credibility and reassure future employers of your professionalism and skill level.

Finding the right job as a mason requires patience, persistence, and a proactive approach. By exploring all avenues and making informed, strategic moves, you can increase your chances of landing a rewarding position in this skilled trade.


The career of a mason offers a gratifying blend of physical activity, skilled craftsmanship, and artistic creativity. As we've explored throughout this guide, masons play a crucial role in the construction industry, fashioning durable structures out of brick, stone, and concrete. This profession not only contributes to the physical framework of society but also to the perpetuation of historical stonework techniques that have been passed down through generations.

Entering the field of masonry does not necessarily require extensive formal education, which makes it an accessible career option that still offers competitive salaries and job security. With the construction industry's growth, the demand for skilled masons is expected to rise. Thus, masonry stands out as a viable and promising career path for individuals who value hard work, creativity, and enduring results.

For those considering this path, the journey involves gaining the necessary training either through apprenticeships or vocational schools, investing time to master the craft, and possibly advancing to more specialized or supervisory roles. Each step in this career provides profound satisfaction derived from the tangible results of one's work—buildings and structures that may stand the test of time.

Hopefully, this guide has illuminated the exciting possibilities and practical steps associated with becoming a mason. With the right training, perseverance, and passion for the craft, embarking on a career as a mason can indeed be a fulfilling professional decision.


Choosing a career as a mason can spark numerous questions. Here are some of the frequently asked questions that might assist in understanding this profession better:

What is the difference between a mason and a bricklayer?

While the terms are often used interchangeably, there is a slight difference. A bricklayer specifically works with bricks to build structures, whereas a mason has a broader skill set that includes working with bricks, stones, concrete, and other materials.

Do masons need any certification?

  • Certification: It's not mandatory everywhere, but obtaining certification, such as from the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), can enhance a mason’s job prospects and credibility.

Are masons in demand?

Yes, masons are consistently in demand due to the ongoing need for new construction and maintenance of existing structures. Urban development and infrastructure projects frequently require the specialized skills of masons.

What are the physical demands of being a mason?

  • Strength and Stamina: Masonry is physically demanding, requiring lifting heavy materials and spending long hours on one's feet, often in strenuous positions.
  • Weather Conditions: Masons often work outdoors, which means weather conditions can greatly impact their work schedule and conditions.

Can masonry be considered a safe career?

Masonry involves certain risks as it is a physically demanding job that sometimes requires working at heights and with heavy materials. However, following safety protocols and using protective gear can mitigate most risks. Continuous training on safety practices is essential.

How to advance in a masonry career?

  • Continued Education: Pursuing further education in masonry and construction can open up opportunities for advanced roles, such as a foreman or project manager.
  • Experience: Gaining extensive experience through various projects enhances a mason's reputation and skill set, potentially leading to better job opportunities and salary prospects.
  • Networking: Building a robust network within the industry can lead to more job opportunities and professional advancement.

Are there specializations within the masonry field?

Yes, masons can specialize in different areas such as stone masonry, marble masonry, and refractory masonry among others. Specializing allows masons to focus on specific materials or construction techniques, often leading to higher pay and unique project opportunities.

How does weather affect masonry work?

Weather plays a significant role in masonry work. For example, cold weather can halt projects as mortar may not set properly, and extreme heat can lead to rapid drying, which can weaken the final structure. Masons need to adapt their work practices based on weather conditions to ensure the integrity of their work.

Are you looking for a Mason role?

Apply via BuildStream today and our team will get in touch to discuss your move and find you your dream job.
Apply Now

Looking for a career change?

We specialize in matching great people with their dream role. It's free and only takes 2 minutes to apply.
  • Get interviews at interested companies within 72 hours
  • 100% discreet, we won't expose your details to anyone
  • Free for candidates, we charge companies a placement fee