Masonry Career Information for Students
Masonry, also known as brick or stone work, has been an art throughout history. The Egyptian pyramids, the Roman Coliseum, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, Jefferson's Monticello - some of the world's most significant architectural achievements have been built with masonry. Throughout civilization, architects and builders have chosen masonry for its beauty, versatility, and durability. Masonry resists the destructive effects of time and weather, and remains beautiful for centuries. Today, everywhere you turn, you see the work of a skilled mason - in office buildings, homes, schools, factories, patios, fireplaces, and more.
As a Mason, What Would I Do?
As a skilled mason, the contributions you make will last for generations. Masons work with brick, concrete block, glass block, tile, terra cotta and stone. Work can be simple, as in building a wall, or complex, as in installing an ornate exterior or constructing a skyscraper. No matter what the job, the skill and precision required by a mason cannot be replaced by machines.
As with many construction trades, masonry work is done outdoors. In the past, weather conditions often affected work schedules, but today, protective sheeting encloses work areas, allowing masons to work continuously throughout the year.
The work is very physical, involving the use of hand tools, power tools and material moving equipment. Every brick and block must be laid by hand, and requires the skill of a craftsman - a true artist. A skilled mason knows the different patterns, textures and colors that create an attractive finished product. Masons must also be able to read blueprints, understand building codes and be knowledgeable of industry safety guidelines and rules for handling hazardous materials. Each job presents new challenges that masons are called upon to address and solve.
As a Skilled Mason, Would I Be In Demand?
Absolutely! There are several opportunities to start a career in masonry since today the masonry industry is facing a shortage of skilled employees. As a trained and skilled mason, you will have the job security that promises a lucrative career for years to come.
How Do I Become a Mason?
In order to become a journeyman mason, you must enroll in an apprenticeship program, through a training center, union program, or mason contractor. Apprenticeship programs combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Most masonry apprenticeships last three years; however, requirements vary among programs.
During your apprenticeship training, you will complete 144 hours of classroom instruction each year (classes are usually held one or two evenings per week) and spend 1,500 hours each year doing on-the-job training. You'll learn from seasoned mentors who will help you learn the trade and teach you the skills you need to succeed.
One of the great things about apprenticeship training is that you earn while you learn. Apprentices are paid for their on-the-job training, with wages generally beginning at 50% of a journeyman mason's salary, and reaching up to 90% by the final year of training. Also, many apprentices' classroom tuition is covered by their employing contractor.
To qualify for an apprenticeship, you must be at least 17 years old and in good physical condition. A high school diploma is preferred by most employers. It is also helpful to be comfortable with geometry and algebra, and map, blueprint, or instruction reading.
If you think you may be interested in masonry, and would like to try it out, you can check with your high school or local community college. They may offer masonry programs that feature classroom and hands-on instruction. These courses provide an introduction to the trade as well as good experience. If you are interested in becoming a journeyman mason after this vocational training, you can then enter an apprenticeship program, and may even be given credit for your "pre-apprenticeship" training.
Another option is to take our Masonry Skills Assessment to discover if you would succeed in a career in masonry.
How Much Money Can I Make?
The wages of a skilled mason are one of the highest in the construction trades. As with all careers, though, wages depend on where you work and who you work for. For information on wages in your area, call the Mason Contractors Association of America at 800-536-2225.
What Career Options Are Available to the Skilled Mason?
Depending upon your interests, a wide variety of masonry-related careers are available within the industry, aside from being a journeyman mason. You could pursue an interest in: Job Site Supervisor or Foreman, Quality Control Technician, Estimator, Project Manager, Instructor, Product Sales Representative, Inspector, Restoration Expert, General Contractor, and many more.
You may need additional training for some of these career choices. However, knowledge of the craft will contribute to your success in all areas of the industry.
Where Can I Find More Information?
You can begin by checking out books on masonry from your local library. Look for Opportunities in Masonry Careers, by Chris Santilli, among others.
Consult your school administration office and local community college to research any available vocational training classes in masonry.
Contact the Director of Workforce Development at the Mason Contractors Association of America at 800-536-2225, for customized information about training and employment in your area, as well as a local contact name.
Please take our Masonry Skills Assessment to discover if you would succeed in a career in masonry and also fill out the Masonry Career Checklist to follow the neccessary steps to find training, employment, and success within the masonry industry.